Canvassing Committee and Court Wrestle Over Timing of Upcoming Elections
In the wake of Moshe Siegel’s resignation as YSU Vice President, student elections to fill the position are now being set in motion.
In a ystud delivered on Wednesday, December 19, Tzvi Solomon, Chairman of the YU student Canvassing Committee, announced and explained the upcoming election process:
“In the next few weeks an election for YSU Vice President will be held.
“In order to be eligible to run you must declare your candidacy and be officially approved. You must e-mail email@example.com with your full name as it appears on your transcript and your YU ID by Monday December 31st.”
At that point, the news of Siegel’s resignation had not yet been publicized. Though Siegel officially stepped down on Tuesday, December 18, the ystud announcing his stepping down arrived in student inboxes only on Saturday night, December 22.
Michael Silverstein, one of five Associate Justices on the student court, lent insight into the hasty email from the canvassing committee. “When I heard the news of Moshe’s resignation, I immediately contacted the council presidents to inform them that, according to the constitution, they must hold elections within two weeks of the resignation.”
Silverstein was alluding to Article II Section 3 Clause (3) of the student constitution, which reads as follows: “If the Student Union Vice President is permanently unable to perform his duties or is removed from office before March 1, an election for a new Student Union Vice President shall be held within two weeks.”
However, after speaking with Mr. Solomon, The Commentator found that the canvassing committee had plans to hold elections for the position of YSU Vice President almost two weeks after winter break, and thus far beyond the confines of the constitutions two-week allowance.
Solomon claims that the constitution is not clear on the matter. He says it is not clear what precisely must occur within two-weeks of the resignation. According to his interpretation, the constitution mandates that the election process must begin within two weeks, not that the election must occur within that time-frame.
Solomon says he did not contact the court for an interpretation on this matter nor did he ask for a confirmation of his own interpretation. Nor did he contact the General Assembly (the YSU board and the presidents of the student councils). When asked if he consulted the Office of Student Life about his decision, he declined to comment. He did say, though, that he discussed the matter with a “YU employee” who supported his decision.
If Solomon had gone through with the decision to hold elections beyond the two-week time limit, he would have been subject to possible charges of negligence, incompetence, and malfeasance.
Soon after its conversation with Mr. Solomon though, The Commentator was informed that the student court would be hearing Mr. Solomon’s case and determining the proper interpretation of the two-week clause. The hearing will determine whether the elections for this important student council position are held during finals or after winter break.
Mr. Solomon and his Canvassing Committee had good reason to try to postpone elections until after break. A two week election cycle would be quite difficult to manage and might lead to less than stellar results. Students must first declare candidacy to the Canvassing Committee, and await their approval. Students must then acquire hundreds of signatures to officially become a candidate. The students would then have only a short time to campaign in order to persuade the student body to vote for them.
In this specific scenario, the two week process would prove even more challenging; the campaign and election process will take place almost entirely during reading week and finals. The difficult timing would not only make campaigning difficult but might also discourage qualified candidates from running simply because they are busy with schoolwork.
If the court rules that elections must occur before the recess, there is not much that can be done; Chief Justice Aaron Kor explains that there is no way around the constitutional rule. “The only way to change the ‘two-weeks’ rule would be to amend the constitution,” he said. “And that can only happen during the general elections in May.”
Clause four of Section One in Article XIII states the rule explicitly. “Ratification of amendments shall be by three-fifths of votes cast by the Student Body during the General Elections.” Thus, an amendment to allow elections to be pushed off until after winter break—beyond the two-week limit allowed by the constitution—could not occur until the end of next semester.
Hoffman raised the possibility of amending the constitution to allow amendments at any time of the year rather than only during general elections in May. When The Commentator suggested this notion, Kor reiterated that it would simply have to wait until the general elections when amendments are officially sanctioned. Silverstein added that Hoffman’s suggestion would be comparable to “Congress raising its own salaries.”
When asked what the court could do if the elections were postponed until after winter break, Kor said he wasn't sure. He did point to the fact that in such a case the Canvassing Committee might be brought up on charges of negligence by an outside party and that the leaders of the committee would then face the possibility of removal.
According to Solomon, there has been interest in the open YSU Vice Presidential seat, as several students have already declared candidacy, though he declined to provide the names of those students. Students interested in running for the position can declare their candidacy until December 31 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Regardless of the complications with the timing of the elections, Adam Zimilover, YCSA Vice President, has a positive attitude looking forward, but also emphasizes the importance of voting carefully come election time.
“Even if the election falls out during an inconvenient time, it is important that students take the campaigns and elections seriously,” he said. “Though it doesn’t always receive much public exposure, the position of YSU VP is integral to the functioning and success of the student councils. It is the duty of the student body to elect a candidate fit for that position.”