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The Daily Tar Heel

Here's what to expect during student body president campaigns

sbp campaiging
Student pass by campaign signs for student body president in the Pit on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2018.

People are coming at you left and right in the Pit with clipboards asking if you want to sign their petition. Student body president elections are underway, and it is just getting started. 

They had to acquire 1,000 signatures to get on the ballot, either on paper or electronically, by Tuesday, Feb. 5, according to the 2019 Election Regulations. 

On Friday, the final list of certified candidates will be released to show who’s on the ballot, starting the active campaigning period, according to the regulations. Students that didn't not make the ballot can still run, but they have to campaign as a write-in candidate.

Candidates go all out during this stage of campaigning, so expect to hear from almost every candidate or someone on their campaign team. Social media has changed the way people get their message across, allowing candidates to reach a wider number of people. Some potential candidates have websites, which must include a sponsorship message so they are not penalized by the Board of Elections. 

SBP candidates are only allowed to spend up to $250 on their campaigns, according to the regulations. If they go over that limit, then they could be penalized or disqualified. 

If you ever wondered why you only see people campaigning in certain areas, this is because the BOE is very strict on where people can and cannot campaign. For example, students cannot campaign inside the Student Union, the UNC Student Stores, dining halls or residence halls.  

Every violation a candidate makes, such as campaigning in a prohibited area or not including a sponsorship message on their website, results in points against the individual. Accumulating 15 points means a candidate will be disqualified. Each point a candidate gains will also result in a 3 percent decrease in their spending limit. 

The election will take place Feb. 12 from midnight to 8 p.m. on HeelLife, the online portal for student organizations. The student body president position will be elected by instant-runoff voting. Instant-runoff voting means, as students vote, they will rank the candidates based on their preferences.

If a candidate doesn't receive 50 percent of the first-choice vote, the candidate who has the fewest first-preference votes will be eliminated. This candidates' votes will then be distributed to the remaining candidates based on the second preferences on each ballot. This process continues until someone has a 50 percent majority.

Come April 2, Student Body President Savannah Putnam will no longer hold her position. After the elections are over on April 12, she will transition to mentoring and coaching the next SBP. A lot of things have happened this year, and she hopes to make the new SBP feel less overwhelmed in the beginning, Putnam said.

Putnam also said she'll be spending more time with friends and playing intramurals.

“4v4 flag football, probably some basketball, softball for sure, just doing anything fun in my last couple (of) months here,” Putnam said.

Putnam's administration is wrapping up their projects, including transportation for off-campus psychiatric services or counseling appointments, a survey to access course material affordability and the 'Angel Shot,' a program that would put signs inside of bathrooms of bars, fraternities and other locations letting guest know how to ask for help if they are feeling unsafe. 


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