• June 3, 2015

Iowa State Daily

Government of Student Body campaign restrictions may need change

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Posted: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 8:32 pm, Tue Apr 9, 2013.

The Government of the Student Body presidential election that occurred the week before Spring Break had a low voter turnout.

Election Commissioner Adam Guenther had a goal of 15 percent of the student population to vote. Approximately half of that actually voted.

Along with several other campaign rules, there was a new one this year: No active campaigning while the polls are open or 24 hours before they open.  This may have had a role in voter turnout.

President-elect Spencer Hughes was at the GSB senate meeting where this new rule was voted on.

“There was no debate from the senate about this issue,” Hughes said. “There were other provisions of the bill that got more attention, like no campaigning during classes, and the no active campaigning just kind of slipped through.”

Many are concerned that the new campaign rule impacted the number of people who voted. “There is a huge concern after seeing the turnout dropping fairly significantly,” Hughes said.

“I think not having the ability to campaign after the polls were open held the candidates back; I’m just very glad the election commission decided social media wasn’t a part of the ban.”

Guenther explained there would be no way to ban social media, especially Twitter. He said that even if the candidates were banned from tweeting or posting campaign-related content on Facebook, there would be no way to control when they were retweeted on Twitter or shared on Facebook.

Steffen Schmidt, university professor of political science, thinks many campaign rules should be eliminated.

“Any law that seriously reduces voting, which for GSB is already shockingly low, is a danger to democracy and to encouraging student participation in the process," Schmidt said.

“If I could wave a wand I would remove almost all ISU GSB election restrictions. After all, the goal should be to unleash the creativity and energy of students running for office and exciting as many students to participate as we can get." 

Hughes and runningmate Hillary Kletscher were fined for violating a rule concerning campaign emails during this year’s election. The rule states that no email can be sent out on behalf of a candidate within 24 hours of the polls opening and while the polls are open.

The Saturday before the election, Kletscher sent an email to 30 greek chapter presidents and asked that they send it along to their members. Kletscher forgot to include the rule disallowing the email to be forwarded within 24 hours of the polls opening.

One of the rules Kletscher did remember to include was once the email was forwarded, Guenther had to be courtesy copied. Two of the presidents did as instructed, and Guenther was courtesy copied. However, both of those emails were sent out past the deadline, which resulted in the fine.

"For years I have said that GSB voting rules are stupid. They prevent aggressive campaigning. No wonder almost every election, there are violations,” Schmidt said.

“If we want students running for office, we need to throw out all the foolish restrictions — even national elections for president of the [United States] do not fine candidates for sending out campaign emails on election day.”

Guenther will meet with his election commission to decide what to do about the current rules and decide what changes to make. Everyone involved in the process agrees that voter turnout needs to be higher.

Former opposing presidential candidate Daniel Rediske did not have a comment on the campaign violation.

Hughes will be inaugurated on April 8, 2013, and the new GSB senate will be seated April 10 at their weekly meeting.

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