ASNMSU Senate to set limitations on candidates running together in elections


Shane Buchanan

The ASNMSU Senate passed a bill setting limits on presidential and senate elections.

The 63rd Senate of the Associated Students of New Mexico State University passed a bill aimed at ensuring greater fairness in ASNMSU Presidential and Senate elections during their Oct. 10 meeting.

Bill 65 sets limitations on both the merging of budgets and on the ability of candidates to campaign using materials that may endorse more than one candidate. It will apply to both presidential and vice presidential candidates as well as those running for senate.

Senator Josiah Armstrong claimed that the bill being passed before the start of the fall senate elections will allow ASNMSU to see how it affects the student voting experience. If needed, the bill may also be improved in anticipation of the presidential and vice presidential elections in the spring.

Prior to the passing of Bill 65, the ASNMSU election code did not prevent candidates from running together.

Senator Laura Laemmle, who introduced the bill, said candidates who wished to run together were not only allowed to do so, but were able to combine their given budgets, thereby strengthening their campaign and their odds at being elected.

“In the spring election for President and Vice President, there were teams of running mates with a combined budget of $600 going up against single candidates with a budget of only $300,” Laemmle said.

Regarding senate elections, individual candidates are granted a budget of $75 in campaign costs. Because students may vote for more than one candidate, candidates that choose to partner up in terms of campaigning may together utilize a budget of $150 or more.

Laemmle also discussed an advantage of teaming up that she deemed as “slightly harder to quantify,” stating that candidates running as a team can gain a greater amount of public exposure and instill the impression that a certain pair of candidates is better fit for the positions they seek in the association.

“This bill aims to level the playing field in terms of public perception. Therefore, a limit is also placed on any campaign materials, social media posts, or list-serve messages that advocate for more than one candidate at once,” Laemmle said.

Bill 65 is to be added to Section 2-8-1 of the ASNMSU Law Book and will be subject to the same enforcement as other general campaign rules listed. Rules are enforced and investigated by the Elections Board but require the filing of violation forms.

Laemmle noted that while anyone may bring suspected violations to the attention of the Elections Board, they may only be enforced if people are willing to file violations.

The reporting of potential violations also requires the person filing to provide documentation to prove that a breach has occurred and demands action on behalf of the Elections Board.

Few senators and Vice President Melina Burnside questioned whether the enactment of Bill 65 would even be effective at preventing such violations as it may allow for further loopholes.

In response, Laemmle defended the importance of Bill 65, claiming that having a running mate has become such an advantage that it is now a necessity.

“Candidates for both President and Vice President should be considered based on their individual merits and whether they really are who the student body feels should represent them. The same goes for candidates for senate,” Laemmle said.

Armstrong was one of several senators expressing their support for the bill, stating that it will help guarantee the student body is able to select candidates for positions on the basis of their ideals, experiences and goals, and less on who they happen to be running with.

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