The FAMU Electoral Commission met Monday, with members of the Student Senate’s Elections and Appointments Committee to discuss new election dates for the spring student body elections.
Electoral Commissioner Bria Jefferson, who recently ascended into office after the resignation of former Commissioner Adrienne Floyd, presented a proposed set of dates for the election to the committee.
Elections were previously set to begin January 30, but were postponed due to Floyd’s resignation and a lack of quorum on the Student Supreme Court.
“We would like to start the declaration of candidacy period on February 20, with the election period running March 15 through March 21,” Jefferson said. “Election day would be March 21 with runoff elections on March 23.
According to the Commission’s proposed schedule, the “dead days” period of the election schedule where candidates may acquire penalty points for pre-campaigning, will run from February 23 until March 14. The lengthy period did not sit well with the student senators because it would include the annual Candidates Meeting.
“The Candidates Meeting is what’s essentially known as ‘Declaration’ to us,” said Senate Pro-Tempore Kenidee Webster. “If it’s during dead days, and the rules of pre-campaigning still apply, is there a reason to have the candidates speak at all?”
“Students will have the opportunity to speak but will not be allowed to say ‘vote for me’ or ‘I’m running for’,” said Jefferson. “That will not be allowed because that’s technically considered pre-campaigning.”
However, Student Government Association Director, Brandi Tatum, weighed in on the confusion of the protesting rule.
“If we have a candidates meeting the rule should maybe be waived for the simple fact that you’re inviting candidates to come speak about running for a position,” said Tatum. “To give points for that at the meeting would just feel like we are setting them up to get penalized.”
Webster then offered a suggestion to remove the pre-campaigning rule altogether, claiming that due to the delay of this year’s elections, potential candidates are already soliciting support from the student body. “Honestly, this isn’t a traditional election,” Webster said. “people are already asking for support and campaigning. Pre-campaigning has already been going on.”
She went on to suggest a shorter period for dead days, a move that Jefferson says would put the commission at a disadvantage to approve all candidates campaign materials. “The biggest problem is that any real timeframe is going to run into spring break.” Jefferson said. “And we are already working all the way up until the day the election starts.”
Jefferson did eventually agree, however to consider waiving the pre-campaigning rules for the candidates meeting.
The electoral commission is expected to present the official election schedule and penalty point system to the Student Senate their next meeting on Monday February 20.
The Commission’s Proposed Schedule is as Follows:
February 20 Declaration of Candidacy Begins
February 22 Declaration of Candidacy Ends
February 23 Dead Days Begin
February 25 or 26 Candidates Meeting (Depending on venue availability)
March 15 Campaign Week Begins
March 21 Election Day
March 23 Run-off Election Day