Last week, Abeer Syedah and Sam Marlow were elected president and vice president of the Minnesota Student Association. Syedah and Marlow received about 62 percent of the vote, earning them a clear victory. However, due to rule violations, presidential runner-up Cameron Holl requested a hearing by the All-Campus Elections Commission (ACEC) to clarify its penalty rationale.
Syedah and Marlow’s team campaigned in student dorms during the day of the election, an act which Housing & Residential Life rules forbid. For this violation, ACEC initially docked the team’s votes by 22 percent, but it later decided simply to fine the campaign.
Holl’s ticket also received fines for its failure to remove promotional stickers from campus property before the election.
Even if ACEC had upheld its initial decision to dock votes from Syedah and Marlow, their ticket would have still won the election by a considerable margin. As a result, Holl’s decision to challenge ACEC’s discretion strikes us as a needless waste of time and resources.
However, the confusion surrounding the rule-breaking during this campaign also draws attention to ACEC’s ineffectual administration of the election process. In the future, ACEC should clearly outline its rules for candidates, and for purposes of transparency, the commission should share regulations with the University of Minnesota community at large.
Only one in five University students voted in this year’s MSA election. ACEC needs to focus on strategies to encourage wider voter turnout in order to ensure its elections are as representative as possible.