Florida A&M University’s Student Senate held its weekly Zoom meeting on Monday where senators heard concerns by freshmen regarding the upcoming fall elections.
Two freshmen candidates for senator said the Electoral Commission prevented them from having their names on FAMU’s election ballot.
Student Senate hopefuls Ariel Burks and YuKwon Toney spoke on behalf of the Class of 2024 as they detailed their issues with the application process. Their candidacy packets were submitted and confirmed, they said, yet their names where nowhere to be found on the ballot. Although both students have been in contact with the Electoral Commission, their responses have not been hopeful, they said.
“They basically told us there is nothing they can do because there’s technical difficulties,” Burks said. “We understand that although this is their first time using a virtual candidacy packet, there will be technical difficulties, but we feel as if it is unfair that it is being reflected on us.”
Due to the effects that COVID-19 has had, FAMU will hold its fall election virtually for the first time. Applications for freshmen and graduate students wanting to represent their class were distributed earlier in the month. Burks said she submitted her application on Sept 17. Both candidates contacted many members throughout the organization for assistance but were turned down, they said, because the ballot had already been submitted.
Candidacy declaration took place on Sept. 14, yet Burks’ and Toney’s issues may force them to run as write-ins in the upcoming election. Both students said they did everything they could to correct the error, even providing proper documentation of completion to the Electoral Commission which included screenshots.
“With us being freshmen and being new to all of this we feel as if we should have been given an opportunity to do whatever it is that needed to be done for the rest of the packet,” Toney said. “At the end of our packet it said completed so we were thinking it was done.”
A meeting is scheduled with the Electoral Commission regarding the issue and how it can be corrected. In an effort to avoid future appeals in elections, correcting this issue will allow candidates an honest chance to represent their class.
Student Senate President Shanel Brown hopes to correct the issue and hold the Electoral Commission accountable for not addressing the technical difficulties the candidates have described. Brown discussed these concerns with other members and spoke about how they plan to adjust to problems faced in virtual elections.
“There should be a meeting coming up scheduled with the EC (Electoral Commission) just so that everything can be rectified, so that we can avoid a stop of elections or any type of appeals for any technical difficulties,” Brown said.
Although there were only two students who spoke on the issue, Burks said there were a few other freshmen who didn’t see their name on the ballot.