To ensure a fair election process, Florida A&M University’s spring election candidates must follow a strict set of rules. However, some candidates said certain rules leave too much room for error.
The Electoral Commission’s Policies and Procedures for this year’s elections include 25 rules that candidates must follow to avoid disqualification. To make sure these rules are followed, candidates are required to sign a “Statement of Agreement” to officially accept the Electoral Commission’s codes and policies.
For student body presidential candidate Gallop Franklin, 20, the standards set by the commission are too high. Franklin, a third-year pharmacy student, found fault in rules that ban campaign materials from selected areas because they can be sabotaged.
“The election code is flawed in a sense because individuals on other campaign teams can take some of your flyers into (a precinct), said Franklin, a Tallahassee native. “You can’t completely make sure it doesn’t happen.”
Shawn Whitehorn, 20, a Mr. FAMU candidate from Indianapolis agreed with Franklin, but said the appeal process protects the candidates.
“That possibility (of misconduct) is definitely present,” Whitehorn said. “If you feel like you’re being treated unfairly, you can just state the facts and go through the appeal process.”
Senate President Mellori Lumpkin, 20, is campaigning to become the Student Government Association’s next vice president. She said the Electoral Commission is trying to prevent any mishaps.
“The Electoral Commission is trying to be more proactive this year, said Lumpkin, who is from Bainbridge, Ga. “They started taking pictures where posters were originally posted.”
When it comes to campaign procedures, Franklin said he does not understand why FAMU’s election rules do not coincide with city and state elections.
“In city and state elections, you can walk into a precinct with your shirt on and it’s fine,” he said.
Channelle Robinson, 20, a third-year business administration student from Atlanta running for senior attendant, said candidates benefit from procedures regarding campaign materials.
“They’re better because they will keep people from tearing down posters,” Robinson said. “It really keeps people from acting up.”
Whitehorn agreed with Robinson, and said he understands why the Electoral Commission made its policies about restricting campaign materials in certain places.
“I think the rules are fair because they respect facilities’ requests,” said Whitehorn, a junior architecture student.
Whitehorn may not have an issue with policies concerning the placement of campaign materials, but he sees difficulty abiding by them. He said the hardest part about avoiding demerits is ensuring that everybody on his campaign team is aware of the rules.
“No matter how much you (try to) make (people) aware of regulations, I don’t think everyone is aware,” Whitehorn said.
However, Lumpkin said candidates should have prepared themselves for this issue before campaigning.
“There’s minor things to be cognizant of,” she said, “but that’s one of the risks you take in campaigning.”
She said she recognized the Electoral Commission rules aren’t perfect, but added that the Senate was available to aid in bringing about understanding.
“There’s room for improvement as far as clarity,” Lumpkin said. “That’s why we have a judicial branch to interpret them.”
Marva Butler, FAMU’s Electoral Commissioner, was unavailable for comment.