Know Your Bureaucratic Bodies: Columbia Elections Board
Written by Bwog Staff
Student council elections and the bureaucracy behind them have changed FOREVER. How so? We have a new elections board, chaired by Jeremy Meyers, CC ’15. Meyers explained himself and his spiffy new board to Bwog in this short but sweet interview.
Bwog: What’s different this year about the student council elections?
Jeremy: This is the first year that there’s an independent elections board. Before [the Columbia Elections Board] was kind of with CCSC, kind of independent, but now we’re school agnostic and we’re regulating CCSC and ESC elections.
B: Why was this necessary? What prompted the change?
J: So I’m friends with some engineers and I was talking to some people on ESC and I found out about how different the ESC process is from the CCSC process. A lot of people said it was outdated, or not as good, and prone to abuse, especially because candidates got to spend their money for ESC elections. So last year I was talking to the previous chair, saying it wouldn’t be hard for us to do the other school as well, and we could make their elections significantly better. Then I was talking with Tim Qin and Caroline Taylor, who were both on the ESC E-Board last year, and they both thought it was a good idea, so ESC eventually adopted it.
B: Do you need an independent elections board mainly for dealing with campaign infractions?
J: So that happens. For both schools there are certain things that are simply not allowed, like campaigning outside of campaign periods. Campaigning before the campaign period is a serious thing, because you have an advantage. Also if you tear down another candidate’s poster, that’s a problem. Sometimes people report campaign violations to us and we have to figure out how to deal with them, so we have set guidelines and look at what’s been done in the past.
B: So no sexting scandals?
J: No, not really [laughs]… There has been some stuff that’s happened, though. Like technically candidates aren’t allowed to seek endorsements, but no one can stop someone from endorsing someone else. So some technical issues like that have been happening. But usually there aren’t any sex scandals.
B: How are the freshmen doing?
J: They’re doing pretty well, and they’ve all submitted campaign posters, and they’re all pretty typical. What has been interesting so far is the endorsement issue. Where we get to see which candidates stand out is the debate (Sunday), so after that point you’d be able to tell a lot more.
B: How do you feel about contributing to the Columbia bureaucracy with another board?
J: Terrible. But it’s only five people, we’re very lean and, in a sense, I think we’re helping the bureaucracy because when we took over ESC elections no one was really in charge of it and it was subject to malaise. No one really focused on it. Now that we’re focusing on it we’re trying to make everything as clear and fair as possible.
[Interview edited for brevity and clarity]
Democracy in action via Wikimedia