Editorial - SGA candidates are pushing boundaries
Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 01:04
After the West Virginia University Student Government Association election scandals last year, the WVU student body hoped those running in this year’s election would go above and beyond the ethical standards of the SGA election code.
In the 2011 election, there were multiple reports of voter fraud from candidates of both parties, which ultimately resulted in fines for several candidates and a revote. Because of the scandal, voter turnout for the revote was at a pathetic low – only 1,134 out of 27,697 who were eligible to vote did so.
While there has been no report of any candidate actually breaking the rules for this year’s election, The United Party, led by Zach Redding and Jarred Zuccari, has pushed the boundaries.
On opening day of the general election, The United Party paid for a limousine service to shuttle students to polling stations.
There is nothing wrong with candidates spending money to benefit their campaigns – signs, T-shirts and promotional events cost money and are fair campaign practices.
However, with seven polling stations across the WVU campus, is there a need for students to be shuttled? It is unfair for candidates to solicit votes in this way. It convey’s the message that "we don’t need to impress you with innovative ideas, because we have money."
According to the SGA election code, "there shall be no active electioneering within thirty (30) feet of the entrances of the buildings where WVU owned and operated computers are located." Candidates have not been reported to campaign within 30 feet of a polling station, but were close.
SGA Elections Chair Jason Butts doesn’t feel The United Party has committed any wrongdoing.
"The attorney general and I were made aware of the incident and looked over the code and decided that it isn’t a problem. If they want to shuttle students to voting locations, there’s nothing wrong with that as far as we’re concerned," Butts said.
To improve the image of SGA, candidates should set their standards high, and they should adhere to them.
During Monday’s debate, West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant asked the candidates how they would turn the negative image of SGA around, and Redding answered "we can’t cheat with polling booths."
An honest candidate would simply say he or she "won’t cheat" instead of "can’t cheat."