All current Undergraduate Student Government election campaigns have been suspended “until the return of a functioning Election Board Committee,” according to an announcement today by the Justice Department of the USG.
For the past three years, the USG Senate has not vetted Elections Board Committee members, Senator Maximillian Shaps said at a senate meeting on Thursday.
“Election board members require confirmation by the senate and we have found that none of the members have been approved in three years,” Shaps said.
The Election Board Committee is an independent agency which is responsible for overseeing that USG elections take place according to the Election Board Bylaws.
Senator Shaps also proposed a bill to transfer the authority of the Elections Board Committee to USG Administrative Director Thomas Kirnbauer. He would be responsible for making “fair and impartial decisions,” Shaps said.
Senator Alexander Bouraad called for an executive session, which required all non-USG officials to leave the senate meeting room. Once the meeting resumed, Senator Shaps’s bill was tabled.
“This is pretty weird because we’re mid-election,” Malik Archer, the chair of the Elections Board Committee, said.
Archer, who was vetted by USG President Cole Lee, is serving his second term as the chair. “It is miraculous that they just discovered this now,” Archer said. If Kirnbauer can take on the responsibilities himself, “what’s the point of having an elections board?”
Kirnbauer said there are no plans to disband the Elections Board Committee for good. “Ultimately this is a student government, and it is imperative to the integrity of the organization that it continues to be run by students,” he said.
In an interview with the Stony Brook Press, USG Vice President of Communications Brody Hooper explained that Archer is allowed to choose members of the board, but the senate did not complete the process by vetting and confirming the nominees.
A candidate, who Hooper refused to name on privacy grounds, brought the vetting issue to the USG Judiciary. The candidate was disqualified from petitioning for the election for an undisclosed reason, Hooper said.
The USG appointed Executive Vice President Krisly Zamor to form a committee to vet the current members of the elections board. The committee will be made up senators who are not running for re-election. Elections board members who make it through the new vetting process will be confirmed by the senate.
“We owned up to doing it wrong and that’s why we are doing the best we can in this situation,” Hooper said.