Changes to election policy target web communication

New clauses needed to clarify campaign rules, chief returning officer says

Last week, AMS Assembly passed a motion to amend the election and referendum policy manuals.

Adam Rose, chief electoral officer, motioned the amendment with the intention of making the policy manuals easier to understand. “We need to have updated policy manuals,” he said. “Clarity is important to minimize confusion and complaints, and to promote understanding.”

Ilana Ludwin, chief returning officer, seconded the motion.

“It’s a yearly process where you see what works and what doesn’t,” she said. “We went over everything and fine-tuned the policies.”

Rose said the most important change was the inclusion of a clause regarding the use of the Internet for campaign purposes.

“The biggest change we had to make was updating the policy because of new technology,” he said. “Previously, there was no clause on websites.”

The new clause reads, “all websites shall be approved by the CRO. All other campaign materials, including content on social networking sites, shall be subject to the approval of the CRO.”

The clause regarding e-mail stipulates that, “all e-mail content shall be consistent with previously approved campaign material and shall be above reproach.”

President-elect Kingsley Chak cited Facebook as the most popular means to make students aware of the election.

“Using Facebook makes it easy to get the word out,” he said. “It creates buzz. People check Facebook way more than the AMS website.” Because it’s cheap and easy to use, Chak said, Facebook changes the way in which the campaigns are run.

“Now there will be more emphasis on how we can utilize Facebook to get students to vote,” he said. “When people see their friends joining campaign groups, it’ll help get the word out.”

A notable change to the referendum policy included the amendment of section 11.02, which governs the regulations for a fee to pass on the referendum ballot.

For a fee to pass, 50 per cent plus one per cent of the vote must be “yes.” Spoiled ballots were previously counted as “no,” making it difficult for clubs to have their fee passed.

Rose said the change is necessary, because a large number of ballots generally end up being spoiled.

“People will spoil their ballots because they don’t know enough about the issue. To interpret that as a ‘no’ is unfair.”

Under the new system, Rose said, results will be determined by counting only unspoiled votes as part of the total.

In addition, two weekdays and a weekend will be cut off of the nomination period, eliminating the waiting period between the end of the nomination period and the beginning of the campaign period.

“This change will be especially helpful in that hiring will be able to begin a week earlier than it has in the past,” Ludwin said. “It will also lighten the burden on both candidates and students.”

The motion to amend both policy manuals passed unanimously at the meeting, a move that did not surprise Rose.

“There was nothing really controversial about it,” he said. “People had two days to look it over. A couple of questions were asked, but it’s pretty straightforward.”

Chak said he considers the amendment good news for people who haven’t previously read the election or referendum policies.

“I think it’s definitely a positive step that Adam and Ilana took.”

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