Kelly Sullivan/The AS Review
The filing period for candidates running for the Associated Students Board of Directors in the AS elections opens on March 7 and goes through April 7 at 5 p.m., with substantial changes to campaign regulations concerning finances and promotions.
This year, AS Elections Coordinator Remy Levin has helped rewrite the entire election code. Many regulations from past years were removed to increase student engagement in the elections, Levin said.
The biggest change to the election code is the opportunity for candidates to receive public financing. Levin said campaigns generally cost between $100-150, with $150 being the maximum amount a candidate is allowed to spend. The new availability of outside funds will ease the financial burden for students who may not be able to afford the expense of running for office, he said.
Public financing will be given out in the form of refunds. The public funds can be spent by candidates on promotional materials such as T-shirts or posters, but they cannot be used to pay for food or labor. Candidates need to keep receipts of their purchases in order to receive any money.
The elections code requires all candidates to document their budgets. If they fail to produce evidence of their spending, they may receive steep penalties through an elections grievance process, Levin said.
Vice President for Governmental Affairs Byron Starkey said fulfilling the requirement of obtaining 150 signatures from current Western students is the biggest challenge in the filing process. He recommended that candidates not wait until 5 p.m. on the evening of April 7, which is the deadline, to turn in their paperwork in case some of the student numbers are wrong or the signatures are not legible. It’s also a good idea to turn the packet in with extra signatures.
“It’s a little daunting at first, but when you get down to it, it’s the easiest thing,” Starkey said.
Vice President for Student Life Jamin Agosti said that it’s possible to get all of the signatures in one day, although he doesn’t recommend doing that. Good places to request signatures are in Red Square or in your classes, he said.
If you are going to ask for signatures in class, ask your professor ahead of time, Starkey said.
The other parts of the candidate application are pretty straightforward. It asks for your major and requires each candidate have at least a 2.0 GPA. A candidate statement, limited to 50 words or less, is also required. Starkey said writing the statement can be a challenge, and usually requires careful editing.
“That’s the only difficult part because you want to make a statement that students actually want to read and not get bored,” Starkey said.
There are also other changes to the election process this year. The time line for the student initiative procedure was extended until the end of the filing period on April 7 for board candidates. This procedure allows students to place initiatives on the election ballot. An example of this was the Green Energy Fee enacted in 2010, which charges students a per-credit fee that goes toward funding student-run sustainability projects on campus. The filing period for ballot initiatives has been open since the start of winter quarter.
Levin said the procedure was revised to allow students more time to campaign for initiatives, which require 675 signatures to make it onto the ballot. Previously, students had only 21 days to promote initiatives.
Another extension was given to candidates who want to create websites and Facebook pages for their campaigns. Candidates can now create these at the beginning of the filing period, instead of waiting until the start of the elections.
Levin recommends that anyone interested in running for office should do so. He said even if you don’t win, you will acquire many skills, such as campaigning and selling yourself, that can be used later in life.
Going through the campaign process is something that can be personally beneficial, as well as being a good way to make an impact on the campus community, Levin said.
He said that those who do decide to run to should read the election code very carefully, particularly section one and clauses one through five in section three. The code is available online at gov.as.wwu.edu.
Students who plan on running need to pick up an elections packet in Viking Union 504. Although obtaining 150 student’s signatures may seem daunting, past candidates say it’s worth the effort.
“It can be scary at first, but when you get into the process it’s a lot of fun,” Starkey said.
“Stressful, but fun,” Agosti added. Starkey agreed. “You have to put a lot of time into running, but it’s still worth the experience.”