Feds election report should promote less bureaucracy
eds council is considering implementing some of the many recommendations that stemmed from the last Feds executive election. As you may recall, the past election was noted for having almost 50 presidential candidates and incurring over two dozen allegations against candidates.
The election report was prepared by the Chief Electoral Officer Hyu Soo Chang, and was edited by Matt Colphon, who was Feds president. It included over a dozen proposals for improving the way Feds elections are administrated.
One interesting proposal is that “the number of nomination signatures for all positions should be significantly increased [...] to encourage nominations of high quality, stop “circle signing” of nomination forms and to promote the election to a larger number of students prior to the election taking place.” A person intent on running for Feds president would then have to gather over 100 signatures instead of the current 25.
One might think that it would mitigate against the lacklustre candidates, but I think we should worry about the equal and opposite effect. Would students that would succeed in the role of Feds president have a network of over 100 students that are close enough to vouch for the leadership ability of a nominee?
The nominators are supposed to act as references vouching for their ability, and likely many of those 100 students wouldn’t make for very good references. Increasing the number of nominations required is just decreasing the quality of those nominators while making it unnecessarily difficult for interested nominees.
Precluding people from the process is not the solution. Although having dozens of nominees isn’t much of a solution either, and really confuses the election process, but it shows an important lesson. If our prospective leaders can’t differentiate themselves from candidates who put little effort into their campaign then why should have them as our leaders?
The election report is also controversially recommending to institute a deposit system for nominees. Executive nominees would be asked to deposit $50, while council and senate candidates would be asked to deposit $30. It may possibly work to keep lacklustre candidates off the ballot, but one should always be hesitant to increase the barriers to participation in the process.
I think the answer is to not increase the bureaucracy of Feds elections, but decrease it. It isn’t the nominees convoluting the process, but rather the process itself and its righteous goal to have all candidates treated equally. Forget about leveling the playing field by having candidates only allowed to campaign for a two-week period. If people know they want to be Feds executive in January, let them start campaigning and separating themselves from the noise of other lacklustre candidates as soon as possible.
The people I want leading my union are the ones who have a clear idea and direction about their future and how they want to shape the school. Students are now pushed to pre-enroll in classes before the previous term even begins. You can’t tell me that most presidential candidates need to decide if they can take a year off school to serve students at the end of January, a mere three weeks before the election. Campaigning should begin as soon as a candidate throws their hat in the ring.
For now, the report is in being considered by the council’s Bylaws, Policies, and Procedures committee, who will provide their recommendations to council. There are many good recommendations in the report, including improving the way campaign material is approved, and streamlining the allegation process, but there is still lots of fat to trim off the election process.
Hopefully the council won’t be as quick to try and improve the facilitation of the election by increasing the bureaucracy of the process as the election committee recommends.