MSA, BEC considered sanctioning exploratory committee

Sophomore Josh Travis' exploratory committee for his potential campaign might have gone against MSA bylaws.

Questions regarding the Board of Elections Commissioners' role in Missouri Students Association presidential elections have arisen since the formation of sophomore Josh Travis' exploratory committee last semester.

In May, The Maneater published an article regarding Travis' formation of a committee to look into the possibility of his potential candidacy for MSA president this fall. In the article, Travis said he was not forming a campaign committee and that he was only looking into what a presidential run might entail.

According to MSA bylaws, candidates are not allowed to begin campaigning prior to 12:01 a.m. on the first day of classes of the semester of the election. The bylaws, as outlined in the 2009 BEC Handbook, forbid campaigning through public appearance, literature distribution, purchased media or websites.

MSA President Tim Noce said he believed Travis was sent an official warning by the BEC after the article ran in May.

"The previous Maneater article was a gray area because the article could be considered publicity," Noce said.

But Dan Kelley, BEC chairman at the time the article was published, said no official warning was ever issued.

"The BEC discussed the article and didn't feel it was appropriate, although technically it was within the parameters of the rules," Kelley said. "The BEC never formally notified him because there was nothing they could do about it."

Travis said he did not receive a warning from the BEC and was unaware of the controversial nature of the article.

The BEC is most active during presidential and senate elections, and a new BEC is not in place until three new members are appointed by the MSA president, the Supreme Court justice and the Senate speaker and confirmed by the Senate in the fall semester. The members then must submit a handbook outlining the rules for the fall election.

Jake Sloan, Noce's first appointee for the next BEC, pending confirmation by the Senate in the fall, said the issue was open for speculation, but that he did not think Travis' actions were deserving of any consequences.

Besides campaigning before the semester begins, other possible infractions include failing to report campaign contributions or expenditures, failing to submit campaign materials or damaging or defacing another candidate's campaign materials. In addition to making the rules, the BEC also enforces them.

Consequences for infractions include written warnings or monetary fines, the most extreme being removal of a candidate from the ballot.

When asked about possible changes for the future BEC, Sloan said he could not name any specific changes before consulting with other members. But, he said the BEC will most likely try to correct any problems that occurred in previous elections, including tweaking the electronic voting system.

Sloan said he would also like to increase communication between the BEC and the candidates in order to prevent candidates from committing infractions in the first place.

"In the fall, the BEC will most likely discuss whether or not a committee such as the one Travis formed would be allowed in the future," he said.

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