Correction (October 29 1:57 AM): Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that a bill passed in Student Congress increased campaign funding for student body president candidates from $250 to $300. This was not a provision of the bill. Should the bill be passed, candidates will receive $250. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.
If a bill passed Tuesday by the Student Congress is approved, the field for the February student body president election will be smaller — but each of the candidates’ pockets will be deeper.
By a nearly unanimous vote, the proposed amendment to Title VI, the student government general election laws, passed after being proposed earlier this month.
The bill would result in a 250-signature increase to the minimum of 1,000 unique signatures required for student body president candidates to be confirmed.
Student Congress members had cited the cost of a runoff election as a motivation for the bill, but said Tuesday that an increase in funding would be permissible with a smaller candidate pool.
Student Body President Hogan Medlin, who has voiced opposition to the changes, has 10 days to sign the bill into Student Code or veto it. Medlin, who has yet to veto a bill, could not be reached for comment.
The bill states that Title VI is difficult to interpret, lacks organizational sense, does not facilitate proper candidate or campaign ease and has an inefficient system of punishment for violations of campaign laws.
The revision of Title VI is part of the rules and judiciary committee’s goal to clarify and reform the Student Code.
Over the past few weeks, Student Congress has discussed and amended the bill many times, often tabling it for further discussion.
Several members voted to limit debate over the bill on Tuesday. Rules and judiciary committee chairman Zach De La Rosa responded to the continuous debate over parts of the bill by stating that no one can get everything they want in the bill.
De La Rosa had initially proposed that the signature requirement be raised to 1,400.
“This bill fixes everything that is egregiously wrong in Title VI,” Speaker Pro Tempore Alex Mills said. “Let’s end the debate, vote to pass this bill as it stands and move on to side issues in separate bills.”
Other amendments included changing the number of signatures needed to run for Student Congress seats to 20 from 35.
Board of Elections Chairman Andrew Phillips stressed that the board needed a revised version of Title VI as soon as possible.
“I would urge Congress to pass this bill simply for the Board of Elections to conduct these elections fairly and efficiently,” he said before the vote.
The revised Title VI is not the final word on election reform.
Several members of Congress opened the floor for future bills to further revise Title VI.
The bill still has potential for change, and proposals such as the reinstatement of the Board of Elections’ power to suspend campaigns for up to 48 hours are still viable.
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