Campaign 2002: Battle for SGA kicks off
Candidates take your marks. Set. Campaign. Since Wednesday morning at 12 a.m., candidates running in this year's Student Government Association elections began campaigning for one of the smallest candidate turn outs in recent history.
This year's list of candidates is a meager 56, down 39 spots from the 2001 election race. Only three candidates are competing for the top seat in the SGA Undergraduate House, but all three are internal SGA candidates.
"I was glad that we had three very strong SGA candidates," said Chris Kavanaugh, SGA President.
Andrew Keen, Management representative, E.W. Looney, Computer Science representative, and Tiffany Massey, Junior class representative, are running for SGA President, and Nate Watson, who is currently serving his term as SGA Vice President, is running for this same position again, unopposed.
Both the presidential and vice presidential candidate are elected by a majority vote of the student body. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the votes cast, the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes will compete in a runoff election.
The polls open on Monday, March 25 and close at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 27. Although Georgia Tech's student body voter turn out is consistently among the highest in the nation, Kavanaugh is expecting this year's election to attract more voters than the usual 25 percent.
"I feel there's a very strong competition for president," said Kavanaugh. "The three people running are going to be campaigning very hard, and that is a direct reflection of voter turnout."
Last year's election was marked by the appeals case of the five candidates who were disqualified because their failure to turn in campaign expense reports by the specified date. This year, Justin Hargrove, Elections Committee Chair, feels that the issue will not be a problem.
"We've made it clear as absolute possible, and that's one of the first things I tell people in information sessions," said Hargrove.
Each candidate received a copy of the Election Code in their application packet and also attended a mandatory information session, where Hargrove outlined important rules that are often violated. He cites that during campaigning, candidates often don't realize that they will be held responsible for the actions of their campaign staff, which has been a source of misunderstanding in the past.
Specific rules about sign location, including forbiddance to chalk campus walkways and roadways and not campaigning within 50 feet of an official voting station or computer cluster, are also potential election code violations.
Even though the list of rules is extensive, Hargrove does not want the Elections Committee to adopt a watch dog attitude.
"Our role is not going to be investigative in nature. We're not going to be looking around for violations of the election code, because we feel like that would compromise our objectivity a little bit."
Any Tech student can submit an election code violation in writing at the SGA office.
The Elections Committee will then notify the accused, who is given a chance to present a defense at a hearing. If the candidate is unsatisfied with the Elections Committee'sdecision, he or she can appeal to the Undergraduate Judiciary Cabinet.