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The UCSU Election Code is a 17-page document that lays out the dos and don’ts for candidates as they aim to earn votes from their peers on campus. Its rules are currently holding authority over the campaigns of this spring’s three running tickets: Drive, One and Solidarity.
According to the code, its purpose is to “provide for open, fair and efficient UCSU elections.”
Michael Mazzone, a sophomore open-option major running for Tri-executive on the Solidarity ticket, said he feels the rules and regulations are pretty straightforward.
“Through direct personal communications, there is very little in the election code that can be violated,” he said.
It is the job of the UCSU election commissioner, senior history and economics major Sean Daly, to be a fair and impartial interpreter of these violations.
Daly said the code employs an infraction system for punishing campaign offenses. These include, but are not limited to, defamation and the destruction of campaign materials, which issue five and one infraction per offense, respectively.
Daly said after 10 infractions, a candidate will be disqualified. Since Tri-executives run as a group, he said all three would be disqualified together from infractions. Representatives-at-large, on the other hand, are disqualified individually.
“I would only disqualify people based on the infraction system,” Daly said.
Before candidates can be concerned with avoiding infractions, they must first find their way onto the ballot. Some tickets are assembled with the input and backing of different student groups on campus, as was the case with the Drive ticket.
Junior anthropology and communication major Victoria Garcia, a candidate for Tri-executive with Drive, said underrepresented communities and student groups were pivotal in the formation of the ticket.
“It was more or less not deciding to run, but rather a nomination process,” she said. “The community comes together and it’s discussed who would be good advocates for everything we stand for.”
Other tickets, such as Solidarity, did not go through this same process before deciding to run. But Mazzone said there are people already within UCSU who say they like what the trio is doing.
“It’s been a crash course, but we’re confident we can uphold the standards of UCSU effectively,” he said.
The only requirement for students who want to run in the elections, according to the code, is that they must be paying student fees. After considering a ticket and a platform, Daly said aspiring candidates must pick up a petition form and gather signatures from CU students.
“Most people already know what office they will be running for when they come to pick up the petition form,” he said.
Tri-executives must gather 500 signatures, with Reps-at-large requiring 200 signatures, on the petition. These are to be submitted by 5 p.m. on the third Monday before elections begin, as established by the code.
Those who complete this step move on to the candidate’s meeting, where they become officially recognized as running for office. In the meeting, Daly said they review the election policies and what their responsibilities are in the race, and sign a contract stating that they agree to the election code.
“The election code has some really vague areas that need explanation,” he said.
Garcia also said the candidate’s meeting offers the opportunity to meet with the competition. She said it was good to meet with others who are running for election, and that things were friendly at this year’s meeting.
“Regardless of who’s elected, I think it’s important to be on good terms with all the candidates,” Garcia said. “Hopefully, we can all work together at the end of this election, regardless of results.”
One restriction on campaigning is the caps on expenditures, which the code defines as any money spent on behalf of electing a candidate to office. Tri-executives may not spend more than $1500 on their campaign, and Representatives-at-large must limit their spending to a maximum of $500.
Candidates must turn in contribution and expenditure report by 7 p.m. the day after voting ends. If they don’t turn in a report, or if their report shows they spent more than the maximum amount allowed, it is an offense that carries 10 infractions and disqualification.
Mazzone said the Solidarity ticket is working to make sure it stays within its finances by just talking directly to students and explaining to them what they are trying to accomplish.
“We want to let them know that we’re more than able to fulfill the obligations of Tri-executive,” he said. “We’re just trying to run the cleanest campaign we can.”
Garcia said the budget limitations are not so tight that they are impossible to work with. She said it was a matter of being creative with what candidates want to spend.
“Chalking can be extremely effective, and it doesn’t cost that much,” she said.
Another part of Daly’s job is to promote the elections to students and encourage them to vote. Like the candidates, the only eligibility requirement for voters in the UCSU elections is that they must pay student fees.
Daly said, this year, there are more banners and fliers distributed through campus to remind students to vote. In addition, he said there are fresh tactics being introduced.
“We’ve put the (Tri-executive) debate on YouTube,” he said. “I think it’s very helpful.”
Daly’s role in the election process has also garnered praise from Mazzone, who said Solidarity has used him as a resource for clearing up any ambiguity with the election code.
“He’s proven himself to be a very worthy election commissioner,” Mazzone said.
In all, Garcia said she believes the election code and its enforcements make for positive campaigning and a positive experience.
“The rules and regulations are there for a reason, to keep (elections) as fair as possible,” she said.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer George Plaven at email@example.com.