The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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More than violations: Election Commission upholds fairness, Aggie Honor Code

Photo by Photo by Meredith Seaver
Koldus Building

Though typically known for giving violations, the Texas A&M Election Commission is more than that. The commission puts student body elections together from start to finish, ensuring fairness for all parties involved.
Housed under the executive branch in Student Government Association, or SGA, the Election Commission organizes and oversees both the fall and spring student body elections while upholding the Aggie Honor Code, Election Commissioner and business honors and management junior Cara Maxwell said.
“From start to finish, we’re looking at the confirmation of the Election Commissioner in about April or May, and then moving forward into anticipating the February elections. A lot of what we do is try and set some kind of strategic plan for the year regarding what our goals are for the election, if that is going to include strictly facilitating the process, [and] promoting voter [participation in the] election as well,” Maxwell said. “We have a lot of liberty, which I think is great from a marketing and promotion standpoint, to try and advertise the elections. We get to kind of see what we want [elections] to look like in the fall for the spring, and then more technically, what people know us more for, is enforcing and interpreting the election regulations to help ensure that the campaigning space is one that is safe and secure, and fair and accessible to both candidates and students.”
Though the Election Commission is a part of SGA, the commission is independent on their own rulings and governance, so they are able to build a team featuring players from all walks of campus, Maxwell said.
“We almost intentionally build our team to include people who are a little bit unfamiliar with SGA … because we think that their perspectives as students are super valuable,” Maxwell said. “My favorite aspect is [getting to] gather a really unique group of students who, at first, aren’t totally familiar with student government, and then seeing them learn more … seeing their hearts for the university, and how selfless and excellent they are in wanting to ensure that this process is fair and equitable for everybody. I think the collaboration that we’re able to have is super valuable, especially coming from students who necessarily wouldn’t otherwise have any kind of stake in this student government role.”
One thing that is unique about the commission is that, besides the election commissioner, all roles are kept anonymous to ensure the fairness of the election and protect those on the commission.
One member, a political science junior, “Sam,” said their favorite part of the commission was getting to interact with candidates as well as with the student body at events like the debates and election celebration following the announcement of the winners.
“I like the outreach [and] the engagement. We [recently] had the debates, and I absolutely love that because I like meeting the candidates face-to-face. [With] the fall elections, you don’t really get to have that [many] events as we do in the spring,” Sam said. “The election celebration is a great event that we’ve been planning since [the] fall elections … our role in that was just to figure out how we can get students there.”
Before voting opens on Thursday, March 3, a commission member and public health freshman “Taylor” said they encourage students to take a look at the Election Commission Voter’s Guide, which provides information regarding all student body president and Yell Leader candidates, and individuals who are campaigning for a Student Senate seat. Taylor said they also encourage students to talk with candidates bannering on campus or to take a look at the candidate’s social media.
“[The Commission is] going to be releasing [candidate] information [soon],” Taylor said. “Voting only takes a couple of minutes of your time, but it has such a big impact on every single, modern and past actions of the people who have won.”
Looking at the time of a new university president and also the second student body president, commission member and business management senior “Cameron” said it is important to find candidates who align with the ideals and goals of the student body.
“We’re at an important time with a new [university] president and new people around her and this next [student body] president is going to be the [student’s] representation to her,” Cameron said. “I think it is an especially important election.”
Sam said they encourage all members of the student body to always vote, but especially with the many changes the university is currently experiencing.
“I would encourage students to vote because I think this is a crossroads right now for students [and the] administration to work better together,” Sam said. “We’ve seen that the administration and the student body [have] had a little bit of disconnect in the recent past weeks, maybe the past few months, and if students want to see a little bit of change between the communication between the administration and students, it starts with your student body president, even your senators, and especially every other position that’s being voted on this cycle.”

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