MSA shakes up election bylaws

The Board of Elections Commissioners aimed to address problems confronted in 2010's MSA presidential election.

After a controversial Missouri Students Association presidential election last fall, MSA's Board of Elections Commissioners updated its handbook to address problems confronted during the campaign and election process.

MSA approved the final revisions to the BEC Handbook during full Senate on Wednesday night.

Major changes in the BEC Handbook include condensing paperwork and improving the clarity of wording and definitions to avoid any gray areas.

“The slates were confused, the BEC was confused, MSA was confused,” BEC Chairman Jake Sloan said. “New wording will make the Handbook less confusing and more clear.”

The negligent and intentional infractions brought up during the Travis-Horan scandal during last semester’s election have been reworded to minor and major infractions. All punishments for infractions remain the same.

The BEC understands slates might make a mistake in their paperwork during the election, but if the MSA Student Court finds that any of the infractions were done with intent, the slate should not be allowed a second chance, Sloan said.

According to the handbook, if a slate is found guilty of a major or minor infraction with the intent to do so, the student court has the power to expel that slate from the election.

The amount of paperwork slates were required to turn in has also been condensed. Slates are now only required to submit three of what use to be five election forms, Sloan said.

“At the end of the election, the candidates were asked for suggestions to improve the election process,” Sloan said. “One of the suggestions was for less paperwork, so we condensed the forms slates are required to fill out."

Student Court Chief Justice Lischen Reeves said the BEC did a good job with the revision of the Handbook.

"They did what they could to address the problems we had last time around," Reeves said.

Chapter five of the bylaws is also under construction to reorganize information, redefine terms and reduce gray area that caused problems during the past election.

“Unclear definitions were the crux of the legal problems,” Operations Committee Chairman Justin Mohn said. “We want to make it clear what exactly we’re trying to target.”

Although the bylaws have not been completely revised, there will be a clause allowing the BEC to propose a change in the election date due to special circumstances.

“The BEC had made the right move, but they had also made an illegal move under the bylaws,” Mohn said.

The BEC will have the ability to submit an election date change to the Student Court justices, who will decide whether the BEC’s proposition is valid or invalid.

The revised version of chapter five will also include the prohibition of public declaration of support from anyone in office.

“This is an approach to what was a lot of backlash to Evan (Wood) supporting Josh (Travis),” Mohn said. “It’s legally prevented in the bylaws and traditionally incorrect.”

Although the bylaws will be revised and improved as much as possible, it is impossible to tell if the revision was enough, Reeves said.

“We have a history of loosely defined terms and contradictory bylaws,” Mohn said. “During the election, we become less like an organization and more like kids on a play ground making up their own rules to a game they made up.”

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