The question “Have you voted?” is an often-heard phrase as election seasons roll around at the University, whether it’s from campaign staff for Student Government Association candidates, Miss Homecoming hopefuls or aspiring Miss Auburns.
Yet for some, it’s also a source of annoyance walking down concourses during these times and a concern SGA looks to address at the start of the spring semester.
A bill was discussed at the final SGA Senate meeting of the fall semester on Dec. 2, that would set guidelines on how many staff can occupy concourse campaign locations during elections. According to the legislation, up to 10 people per candidate can promote their campaign in a given area, but, if passed, the bill would see this number reduced to eight.
The legislation was introduced to the floor by Hope Ward, senior in public relations, the current senator for the College of Liberal Arts and SGA code of laws chair.
“Lauren Urban, [SGA executive] director of elections, came to me, and we’re really working on being mindful of people on the concourse that don’t feel so passionately about campaigns,” Ward said. “Clearly, the people involved want to be out there and get their name out, but we also understand that there’s some students who don’t particularly mind not being as involved.”
Ward said that while not all students are uninterested in voting in elections, for some, enthusiastic campaign staff can prove to be interrupting or distracting to fellow students trying to get to classes.
“[We want to] make sure that it is an opening and welcoming environment and that that week is not stressful for people,” she said. “We don’t want them to feel like they have to avoid normal walks to class or feel like they’re being bombarded or feel like they have to answer to these people that are out there.”
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Monday night’s draft of the bill pertained specifically to Haley Concourse, which Ward said can see some of the highest activity during election weeks. While senators were in support of its passing, there was division on whether it should be tabled until the next senate because of how it might suit other walkways not considered in Ward and Urban’s writing of the initial version.
“[On] the points that were brought up about the other concourses, me and Lauren would have to work on making sure that there is a place to clearly mark off a line that you can’t cross over,” Ward said. “I know a lot of bikes go down Thach Concourse very quickly.”
In the past, Ward says campaign staff have been notified that they are not to cross onto the red bricks on concourses as not to obstruct the path. This is not a rule that exists in the current form of SGA’s campaign packet outlining election rules, however.
As such, SGA cannot file violations for this, which is something Ward and Urban intend to change should the bill be passed next semester.
One other policy the bill will seek to adjust is the time at which campaign staff begin their post on concourse locations. At present, campaigners are required to show up at 5 a.m., but the legislation would move it to a more reasonable 6:30 a.m., when more students arrive on campus and facilities like the Student Center open.
“Some of the campaign staff would spend the night before voting day out there,” Ward said. “We wanted to ensure safety for those people and didn’t want them hanging out so long.”
Ward and Urban’s bill will be brought to the floor again at the next SGA senate meeting on Jan. 13, 2020.
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