ASG Senate changes election code to allow president, executive vice president to endorse candidates


Allie Goulding/The Daily Northwestern

ASG President Christina Cilento speaks Wednesday. ASG amended its election code to allow the president and executive vice president to endorse candidates for their positions.

Jonah Dylan, Assistant Campus Editor

Associated Student Government Senate approved changes to the election commission’s guidelines Wednesday, including an amendment that will allow the president and executive vice president to endorse candidates for their positions in the upcoming election.

The guidelines were changed just a year after Senate approved a clause that prohibited the president and executive vice president from endorsing candidates. Chief of staff Isaac Rappoport, who proposed the amendment, said the president and executive vice president should have the option to endorse.

“This is a very problematic part of the code,” the Weinberg senior said. “The reason why the election commission can’t endorse is obvious: it’s because it’s their job to make sure the election is fair. The president and vice president have no role in that.”

ASG President Christina Cilento spoke on the amendment’s behalf, saying insight from people who have done the job is always valuable in any election.

“The entire intention of a campus-wide election is to sway people to vote for other people, so talking about the ability of the president and vice president to sway votes is just kind of in line with what the definition of an election is,” the SESP senior said. “Any campus figure can have that sort of authority or that sort of sway over people.”

Former election commissioner Lauren Thomas spoke out against the amendment, saying that unlike U.S. presidential elections, ASG’s election commission works closely with the president and executive vice president to ensure the validity of the election.

Thomas, a Weinberg senior, added that after last year’s events, she wouldn’t have been able to go to former ASG President Noah Star for help if he had endorsed a candidate. During last year’s presidential election, ASG’s election commission ruled Cilento and Vinson’s campaign violated election guidelines by failing to disclose they had received information about the voting margin while polls were still open.

“I would not have been able to do it without Noah,” she said. “If he had endorsed one of the candidates, I would have been really nervous about involving him at all in my decision-making process because he could’ve been seen as influencing how the election commission did their work or what we decided afterwards.”

Senate ultimately passed the amendment by a vote of 18-8-4. Cilento and executive vice president Macs Vinson will now be allowed to endorse candidates in the upcoming election, which is scheduled for April.

Weinberg junior Lars Benson said students can use past presidents’ judgment when making their own voting decisions.

“The fact that students did vote on a president and vice president to begin with reflects an endorsement of those people’s judgment,” he said. “We trust our leaders to make decisions for us, and to a certain degree I think it’s reasonable to trust their judgment in picking a candidate for their own position.”

Senate also made other changes to the election code, including moving back election commission elections to the third week of Winter Quarter, a move Thomas had previously endorsed.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Lars Benson’s year. Benson is a junior. The Daily regrets the error.

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