Leaders: Election rules to change

Campus government leaders vowed to clarify rules applying to election results and officials.

Jens Krogstad

Following allegations and admissions of students leaking and fabricating election results, student government leaders said there will be changes to next year’s rules.

Because it is unclear if any rules were broken, student leaders are planning to make election guidelines more clear. They are also still resolving a complaint regarding the instant runoff referendum.

Changes are made every year, but Minnesota Student Association President-elect Tom Zearley said next year’s election rules will be finalized a few months earlier to allow time for any further adjustments.

“We hope to address and change the rules right away next semester instead of waiting for January,” he said. “I feel a few basic rules will prevent a lot of this.”

All-Campus Election Commissioner Jeff Nath, who is graduating, said one change he will recommend is to close access to election results to student commissioners.

“Election results should be kept under lock and key,” he said. “If the commissioners had no access to the results, we wouldn’t have this problem right now.”

Nath said he hopes rules regarding commissioners’ behavior will be fleshed out.

“There’s nothing specifically said in the rules that say you can’t give out results,” he said. “But as you can see you can make an argument that it can influence an election.”

Co-commissioner Dan Nelson admitted Monday to giving election results to former presidential candidate Bob Gindorff. Though Nath denies giving out results, he admits saying the election was close.

Zearley said he is looking into whether a rule forbidding the fabrication of election results is allowed under other governing bodies’ election laws.

Zearley-Pierce campaign manager Aaron Solem admitted to fabricating election results to motivate the campaign to work harder.

Outgoing MSA President Eric Dyer said he hopes to see rule changes that would prevent this year’s perceived conflict of interest from happening again. Nath, MSA vice president, and Nelson, an MSA executive board member, also held two of the four spots on this year’s election commission.

Nath spoke to The Minnesota Daily independently of the elections commission because it would not comment for this story.

The commission is holding a hearing today to try to resolve a complaint filed about the instant runoff election referendum that passed last month.

Under the referendum, next year’s MSA presidential elections will use the instant runoff voting system.

Nath described the complaint as a procedural issue that will be decided by the end of the day today.

He said the elections commission’s decision could range anywhere from no action on the complaint to “noncertification” of the voting results, though he said he doubts the latter would happen.