Illegible and ineligible

The MSA presidential election is off to a surprisingly controversial start.

The usually uneventful MSA election season got a whiff of excitement last week when a presidential candidate was thrown off the ballot, accusations of fraud were tossed around and insinuations abounded that the current president was involved. The All-Campus Elections Commission has spent countless hours trying to generate that type of drama and excitement about the electoral process. They finally succeeded in creating a political buzz last week; too bad it was for all the wrong reasons.

Mike Griffin filed his application as a presidential candidate last week, but the real fireworks began after his name was dropped from the official ballot. The ACEC ruled him ineligible to appear on the ballot after determining he had submitted 80 illegible signatures.

It’s really no surprise that the system for determining eligibility failed given its reliance on the archaic practice of gathering signatures. Signatures are often signed with emphasis on style or efficiency without regard for clarity; illegibility is far from being an anomaly. Not to mention that gathering the required 450 signatures can be a Herculean task. Plus, only 2,841 students took the time to vote in last year’s election.

MSA elections have garnered so little attention because of their predictable pageant. It’s all the same: the same kinds of students running on the same platforms. Having a large field of candidates is one sure way to boost interest from a broad array of students. So the ACEC is now in the awkward position of enforcing policy at the cost of voter interest.

The ACEC needs to make some simple changes. First of all, the number of required signatures should be drastically reduced to more accurately reflect the level of interest from students and to encourage the entry of more candidates. Secondly, signatures should be done electronically with the X500 login. This would immediately create a more legitimate and less-subjective system.

Griffin can still run as a write-in candidate, but in the U’s apathetic atmosphere, it’s hard to envision voters taking the time to type in a candidate’s name.

Maybe this will change things. Maybe next year’s election will be different. Maybe, but don’t hold your breath.