Every semester, when the campus is covered in promotional banners and groups of students in bright, monochromatic shirts handing out flyers, each UM student knows that Student Government elections are just around the corner. The process is overseen by the student government Elections Commission, an independent group of students who are responsible for overseeing and coordinating every aspect of the elections.
The duties of the Elections Commission include publicizing the elections and coordinating meetings having to do with the elections process, making sure the elections are run according to the election codes, creating the candidates’ election packets and managing the polls.
The Elections Commission, in conjunction with the SG Supreme Court, holds nightly meetings during the candidates’ campaigning period to hear and judge complaints brought against potentially unfair tactics to ensure a fair election.
The commissioners can usually be seen wearing black T-shirts around the polling site set up in the UC Breezeway, strongly encouraging those who pass to take a moment to decide on a candidate.
Andres Berisiartu, vice-chair of the Elections Commission, enjoys being able to work behind the scenes on the SG elections and hopes that the voter turnout will be larger this year.
According to Bresiartu, the number of students who participate in the elections is greater in the spring than in the fall due to the importance of the presidential elections. However, many students still choose not to participate in these elections because of general apathy or because they think the outcomes of the elections will not directly affect them if they do not live on campus.
“I think voting is important because the senators make important decisions that affect our entire campus that will affect everyone in the long run,” Berisiartu said.
Berisiartu and the chair of the Elections Commission, Martin Cruz-Mesa, are also both active members in the student organization FEC, Federacion de Estudiantes Cubanos (Federation of Cuban Students), which seems to have the most members taking part in all aspects of student activities and student life.
Of the 16 individuals on the Elections Commission, nine of them are also members of FEC.
Stephanie Martinez, president of FEC, said that FEC encourages its members to get involved outside of the organization, which explains why their members make up the majority of the Elections Commission.
Berisiartu believes that the familiarity of the nine members involved in both the commission and FEC is only one aspect that creates a productive working environment for the Elections Commission.
“I guess because we know [the FEC members]outside the commission it makes it easier, but the people who are not in FEC have worked out just as well,” Berisiartu said. “We all work well together-really well.”
The SG elections will take place in the UC Breezeway on Monday, Feb. 27 through Wednesday, March1. Students can stop by and vote electronically for the candidates they choose at any time from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Results will be announced at the Rat at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 1.
Marina Nazir can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.