UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

3-4-24 PDF
March 4, 2024
2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Rule breaking in USG Elections?

During UMB’s most recent USG election, President-elect Travis Henderson and Vice President-elect Dan McDowell got into some hot water for posting more campaign flyers than bylaws and University policy allowed for. As a result, President-elect Henderson and VP McDowell faced the penalty of losing  a percentage of their votes. VP-elect McDowell explained the cause for the commotion. “We put up three signs approved by Student Activities. Our opponents challenged the legality of the number and size of the signs. Their complaint was reviewed by the elections committee which found a University law disallowing the signs.”

Fortunately, the Judicial Branch of the USG showed sound judgment and a reluctance to disrupt the democratic process.  They  took into account that the signs had been approved by Student Activities, thus, the candidates could not have known they were doing anything wrong. Henderson and McDowell also took immediate action to comply with the University rules. Because of these mitigating circumstances, the elections committee decided not to penalize the candidates by deducting votes. 

Obviously, if a candidate breaks the rules of campaigning, to ensure a democratically run election they should face punishment. However in my mind deducting vote percentage punishes the voters more than anything and is a blatantly undemocratic policy. 

It is unfair to the voters because they may be casting their votes while being completely unaware of their candidates’ indiscretion. Therefore deducting a percentage of that candidates vote negates that person’s choice.  

How do you decided how large a percent to deduct? Is it based on the probable influence a candidates’ actions had on his/her voter turn out, or on their opponents? 

I launched these questions at VP-elect McDowell, who responded: ”For the system we have it is the most viable option. Some other schools fine candidates but that brings up a whole semesters’ worth of issues. For example, the legality of collecting fines, where that money would go, how much would we fine, how do we enforce it – it’s just not an option. Vote deduction is meant to be a huge deterrent. Many schools are quick to simply throw people off the ballot.”

While this reasoning is sound, I have to believe there are other alternative modes of punishment. For instance, candidates could run more cutthroat campaigns. If opponents step outside the bylaws they should make a deal of it to the voters. Attacking each other for breaking rules would make for more exciting campaigns and would definitely affect how many votes a candidate got in a democratic way. The voters would know what the candidates had done and be able to decide to vote for them or not. The people could decide what is a minor offense and what is a major one–not some committee arbitrarily assigning voter percentage to certain rule violations.

About the Contributor
Jacob Aguiar served as the following positions for The Mass media the following years: News Editor: 2011-2012; Fall 2012 Leisure Editor: 2010-2011