UPDATED: MSA Board of Elections Commissioners Handbook approved during full Senate

The handbook aims to give the BEC more control over the elections.

The Missouri Students Association unanimously passed the Special Election Board of Elections Commissioners Handbook during full Senate Wednesday night. The changes were made following problems the BEC faced in the 2015 MSA presidential election.

The handbook was passed unanimously by the Operations Committee the night before.

The most disputed change came to the infraction system that sparked a lot of scrutiny during the last election. The new infraction system was simplified from categorizing violations into major and minor infractions to just infractions in an attempt to make cheating candidates face elimination.

“The ambiguity is to serve the students,” BEC Chairwoman Bridget Everson said. “This election should be about the students and what they want to hear, not what we should allow for them to hear.”

By doing away with the rigid infraction system, the BEC has more freedom to rule on each infraction as they see fit. The BEC set basic guidelines for what to do for the first few infractions, but ultimately the BEC has final ruling on the penalty for an infraction based on severity.

“We don’t want to compare slates’ infractions to each other because they are individual basis,” BEC Vice Chairwoman Taylor Cofield said. “That’s not what a race is about. You should be trying to get your platform out there not get the other slate out of the running.”

The definition of obstruction was changed so that any deceit and dishonesty toward the BEC would result in automatic removal from the election. This was changed to resolve the ambiguity in the time period that a candidate is president-elect. Previously, a member of MSA could not be removed from office for any dishonesty committed while they were not holding office.

The BEC decided to follow MU’s definition of mass communication. The MU Mass Email Policy defines a mass communication as a message that reaches 250 or more people. This clause was purposely left vague because candidates found loopholes through the formerly tight restrictions.

The committee ruled to add a disclaimer to the mass communications policy in an attempt to eliminate voter harassment from the slates. If a person being notified does not want to receive any more messages, they can opt out. The policy explicitly states “including but not limited to emails” as the mass communications of choice.

The BEC also defined a slate, which did not have a clear definition before. An MSA campaign slate is now defined as the presidential candidate, vice presidential candidate and the campaign manager. During the 2015 election, Gomez/Hanner’s former campaign manager Natalie Edelstein sent mass text messages. Since there was no clear definition of a slate, Gomez/Hanner received a minor infraction instead of a major infraction because there it couldn’t be proved that Gomez or Hanner knew. However, GroupMe screenshots later revealed the slate knew. If the slate decides against a campaign manager and uses a team format instead, they must notify the BEC who the members of their campaign team are.

The BEC ruled to provide a list of locations where the slates could have their constituents vote on election day. Previously, the slates would provide a list of five locations where they’d like to campaign. The slates will still provide this list, but the slates are now able to campaign at any of the designated locations rather than the ones they provided.

The definitions of hard campaigning and soft campaigning were also reduced to just campaigning.

Edited by Waverly Colville | wcolville@themaneater.com

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