Dive into Diplomatic Processes
Student government passes election code following presidential veto
Published: Monday, February 3, 2014
Updated: Monday, February 3, 2014 09:02
After weeks of deliberation, NDSU student government has passed an election code.
In January, student senate voted to pass an election code. However, student body president Robbie Lauf vetoed the bill, forcing the ball back into the senate’s court.
While there were talks of overriding the veto, student government members agreed to changes and decided to amend the proposal, to which Lauf and the executive branch approved of. The code passed Thursday night.
“We wanted to re-look at the process,” Lauf said. “We didn’t want to interject before the senate and the court got to do their thing with the right of the president to veto a bill. I thought there were some improvements to be made.”
Lauf had issues with the proposal which he wanted to see dealt with. First and foremost, he said the language regarding the campaigning process was too vague and could’ve been taken out of context.
When the election code first came to student senate, Lauf wanted to hold off on any veto decision in order for student senate deliberation to take place. But they passed the bill, and Lauf met it with his first veto as student body president.
Soon after, Lauf gave recommendations to the student court for what he wanted to see done. At the meeting Thursday, they countered with a compromise and Lauf signed off on it.
“It wasn’t explicitly clear that you were allowed to tell people that you were running,” McEwan said. “Even though it implies you are, it doesn’t give a lot of feedback beyond when you can and can’t tell people after the start date.”
Having ran for office last year, Lauf knew how the process went. Student body vice president Erik Diederich and Lauf were the only ones who were on a presidential ticket last year.
“It’s three branches for a reason with a separation of powers,” Lauf said. “This is a way we can come to a conclusion for the sake of the student body and get them motivation to run.”
Student government members came together and agreed on changes due to the ambiguity of the campaign process. Before the Thursday meeting the code said “tickets do not engage in any campaign activities prior to the official opening of campaigning.”
“It brought up a lot of concerns of the past,” McEwan said, “because there were a lot of people afraid that they couldn’t say out loud that they are running without risking breaking the pre-campaigning rules, even though those rules implied that you can… We wanted to clarify a lot of those rules.”
Lauf admitted it was common practice for campaigns to set up a team and have advertisements ready before any campaign happens.
But according to the previous election code, the student court could have said candidates were breaking the election code by getting ready to campaign. Student government members said the intent of the clause was to make sure candidates aren’t recruiting voters, but now they can get ready without worrying about being sued for election penalties by opposing candidates.
“I was happy with the end process,” graduate studies senator Chris McEwan said. “It came down to meaningful change that was made and all parties were satisfied.”
Lauf claimed there have been plenty of court cases saying other candidates broke election code, so he wanted to make sure there was as little confusion as possible for this year’s candidates.
“Elections can get dirty and we don’t want that to happen,” Lauf said. “I think some positive changes were made.”
Part of the student court’s job description is to pass an election code before winter break. However, the proposal wasn’t on the table for student senate until they recongregated after the spring semester was underway.
The bill met even more delay after the Lauf veto.
“The earlier it can get passed the better,” vice president of student senate Cassie Hillen said. “But with the amount of changes that happen every year and the questionable time of when the elections are going to be called, I do understand that it did take a little bit longer than usual to get it in. Stuff like that comes up every year.”