USG President Vows Election Reform

The president of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) said that he supported legislation which would require vote distribution by candidate to be publicly released.

As previously reported, the USG does not share the number or percent of votes that each candidate receives in student government elections with the student body.

USG President Jonathon Hawkins said he will advise the next Senate and student president to publicly release vote shares.

“Next year, I would say when the election committee is established they should reform the elections code to distinctly say that the information should be dispersed,” Hawkins said.

According to the current USG Election Code, any changes to how elections are conducted would require a unanimous vote from the Senate. However, only a simple majority would be required at the first meeting after the next USG general election. Election reform is thus more likely to be approved next year.

Hawkins is a political science major first elected in 2017 with his running mate Albat Mulbah. According to the USG Constitution, Hawkins will see his term end on April 30.

Hawkins will be succeeded by Gina Pleshkan, the winner of the 2018 election alongside her running mate Yasmine Kofahi. Pleshkan could not be reached for comment.

“It will be something that I discuss with the next administration during transitions when it comes to things we would have done differently this year,” Hawkins said of election reform.

While Hawkins supports legislation to require the release of vote distribution by candidate, he said that, “I wouldn’t say necessarily that legislation would be required for such a thing to occur.”

Under the present system, USG presidential candidates can be provided their election results by request.

USG President of the Senate Brandon Rubacha argued last week that reform was unnecessary on this basis.

“The vote shares were disclosed with the candidates, not to the Senate. However, through word-of-mouth that always gets out, because one ticket will say ‘oh, I won by this percent’,” Rubacha said. “They could share with their constituents if they ask.”

Rubacha believed that, in the case of a close election, the results would be publicly disclosed under the current system.

“I do believe that if it comes to like a 56 percent to 54 percent vote, then yes, the number of people who voted for either side should be released,” Rubacha said. “However, I believe in that instance they would be released, or the Supreme Court would ask and then they would be released.”

In the most recent election, the winning student presidential ticket of Gina Pleshkan and Yasmine Kofahi received 56.54 percent of the vote while the losing ticket of l ticket of Kara Teipen and Savannah Kerstiens received 43.45 percent.

These results were not released on social media, the campus website, or any publicly available space, nor did the Supreme Court request for the results to be disclosed to the student body.

These results were shared via email with the Campus Citizen after correspondence with Brian Starkel, the USG adviser and assistant director for Leadership Development and Civic Engagement.

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