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UNC student election rules updated

New student elections regulations passed through Student Congress Tuesday seek to spare UNC students of a repeat of last year’s controversy.

The new bill — which modified Title VI of the Student Code — introduces a slew of new rules that members of student government say will make the process clearer for everyone involved.

Among the new features is a disciplinary points system. Candidates’ code violations are separated into seven different classes, with a different number of points allotted to each. Once a candidate reaches 10 points, he or she is disqualified.

And each point earned results in a five percent decrease in the candidate’s total starting budget.

“As you get closer to the end, and as people spend their money, they will be seriously incentivized not to commit violations,” said Zach De La Rosa, speaker of Student Congress.

Last year’s student body president election was the most venomous in recent memory, featuring several lawsuits and accusations of misbehavior between candidates.

Andrew Phillips, who was then the chairman of the Board of Elections, said the points system is a suitable remedy.
Last year, fines imposed against candidates who committed infractions were largely ineffective, Phillips said.

“It was tricky because the fine had to be proportional to the crime, but it was entirely left to the board’s discretion as to what was appropriate,” Phillips said.

The bill also adjusts several other aspects of the title.

Candidates can now legally obtain electronic signatures of support as long as they are Onyen-verified, and board members, who previously served one-year terms, can serve indefinitely until they choose to resign.

An appeal system allows candidates to turn to the Student Supreme Court if they do not agree with the Board of Elections’ ruling on point violations, said Speaker Pro Tempore Adam Horowitz, who introduced the bill.

Horowitz said students are able to contest their points, but only within a certain amount of time.

“You can’t wait until you’ve received your 10th point to appeal every point you’ve received,” Horowitz said. “If you want to appeal it, you have to appeal it immediately.”

The change allows members of the student body to use the points system to help evaluate which candidate they should vote for, said Student Body President Mary Cooper.

“Should a candidate choose to break the rules and get a campaign violation, then the new system quantifies that in an understandable way to help students make informed decisions,” she said.

One of the bill’s strengths is its streamlining of the Board of Elections’ role, Horowitz said.

“Everything is now set in stone as to what they’re doing in every ruling.”

The student election season kicks off Dec. 6, with an optional meeting for prospective candidates in room 2518A-B of the Student Union at 8 p.m.

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