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USG considers pushing back election start dates

Lantern file photo

Ohio State’s Undergraduate Student Government is considering moving future elections to accommodate the semester schedule.
Tyler Byrum, a third-year in engineering physics and USG chief justice, said election deadlines for candidates to get on the ballot and the campaigning season were much earlier this year under semesters.
“Campaigning season was earlier this year, usually it’s April,” Byrum said. “Students usually have all of Winter Quarter to prepare for elections.”
Campaigning began on Feb. 17 this year.
Byrum said the USG Constitutional Bylaw Review Commission suggested elections be earlier under semesters, but after feedback from members of USG, the commission might move elections to after spring break.
“I had heard from some people that they thought they couldn’t properly prepare a good campaign,” Byrum said. “Candidates had a two-week period to petition to get on the ballot.”
The two-week period is the same time frame students have had in the past, it has always just been offered later in the year.
However, USG President Taylor Stepp said he thinks the reason USG is considering changing the election dates has nothing to do with the petition deadlines.
“It’s utterly hell to campaign in this weather,” Stepp said. “People don’t want to be stopped on the Oval when it’s 20 degrees out.”
Stepp, a third-year in public affairs, was the only candidate on the 2013 ballot and was re-elected for a second term. He is set to be confirmed on March 27.
Byrum said several other people were interested in running for USG president but said they did not have adequate time to prepare a campaign.
Byrum also said winter weather is not good for campaigning on the Oval, where candidates usually talk to students.
“Generally that face-to-face contact is shown to get more people interested and active in whatever issue you’re talking to them about,” Byrum said.
Stepp said he does not think what time of the year elections are held affects the campaigns in a major way.
“I will say it was different,” Stepp said. “But I don’t think that was the major inhibitor for other people to get on the ballot.”
Stepp said there were several teams that planned on campaigning but decided right before petitions were filed not to run.
“We thought someone (else) was going to go and file to be on the ballot,” Stepp said. “I was very surprised.”
Stepp said the change of elections should not have affected anyone’s opportunity to campaign or petition to be on the ballot because students prepare for elections months in advance.
“I’ve never heard of anyone starting their campaign any later than November,” Stepp said. “You do not start a USG campaign two weeks before or two months before.”
Nick Parker, a fifth-year in pre-law and political science, is a current USG senator and supports moving election dates.
“The Constitutional Bylaw Review Commission wanted to move elections so they ran more smoothly,” Parker said. “It seemed like a good idea in theory, but there were some issues. Changing the elections dates was a disadvantage because people didn’t realize the switch.”
Parker, a 2012 USG vice presidential candidate, said he is now in favor of moving elections so campaigning will be in warmer weather.
Parker said the new election dates are in the process of being enacted.

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