The Undergraduate Student Government Senate revealed at its meeting on Thursday evening that members of the USG Elections Board have not been confirmed by the Senate in three years, calling the board’s legitimacy into question in the middle of election season.
The USG Code states that members of the Executive Council or Senate may nominate students to the Elections Board, and the Senate must confirm nominations with a majority vote of filled seats. However, Malik Archer, the current Elections Board chair, said this is not how board members have been chosen in recent years.
“Only the chair was vetted, and the chair does the appointing for whoever they’ve deemed should be on the board,” Archer, who was confirmed by the Senate earlier this semester, said in an interview.
The section of the USG Code that requires Senate confirmation for Elections Board members was discovered after an unidentified club leader asked a question about election bylaws to USG officials, Sen. Maximillian Shaps said.
“I think it was just an oversight, honestly,” Shaps said in an interview after the meeting.
A bill to suspend the Elections Board and to give the board’s responsibilities to the USG administrative director was ultimately tabled after the Senate went into an executive session. The bill will likely not be reconsidered.
“It was too harsh of a solution,” Shaps said. “We want to maintain the legitimacy of the board as best we can.”
Campaigning for the 2016 USG elections is underway, and conflicts of interest would arise if senators running in the elections were to vet Elections Board members.
“We want to handle this in a way that does not reflect the interests of parties or people running for re-election,” Shaps said. “So we want to make it as nonpartisan as possible.”
After the executive session, the Senate decided that the best solution would be to create a coalition of senators and Executive Council members who are not running in this year’s elections to vet the current members of the Elections Board, Shaps said.
Members of the Elections Board must maintain a 2.5 grade point average, and they remain members of the board until they resign, run for office or graduate, according to the USG Code.
The Senate also passed an act at Thursday’s meeting that requires the Elections Board chair to give weekly reports to the Senate.
“Basically what this act does is tries to hold the Elections Board chair accountable to the Senate and Executive Council,” Sen. Alexander Bouraad said during the meeting.
FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT GOVERNMENT