| 03.19.2018

Ensuring campaign equality – Capping ASUI Senate campaign lengths


Candidates running during spring ASUI elections have traditionally had one extra week to campaign, since elections overlap with spring break. A bill amended by the ASUI Senate Wednesday sought to address that discrepancy. ASUI Election Coordinator Brianna Larson said she has been working to ensure the spring elections are in compliance with the Rules and Regulations.

“The Rules and Regulations hasn”t specified how long candidates can campaign for in the past,” Larson said.

ASUI Senator Zachary Spence speaks at the ASUI meeting Wednesday. The ASUI senate amended a bill regarding spring election campaigning length.

Alex Brizee | Argonaut
ASUI Senator Zachary Spence speaks at the ASUI meeting Wednesday. The ASUI senate amended a bill regarding spring election campaigning length.

She said during ASUI Communications Board meetings this semester, she helped analyze the Rules and Regulations document to make sure spring elections adhered to it. About three weeks ago, Larson said they noticed the discrepancy between the fall and spring elections and decided to take action.

“I sat down with Communications Board Chair, Austin Karstetter, and we wrote the bill,” Larson said. “Then, I talked to the Rules and Regulations Committee Chair, McKenzie MacDonald, and she was on board with it and sponsored the bill when it went to senate.”

Larson said she was supportive of this bill because in the past spring election candidates have had an advantage since they had the opportunity to campaign for an extra week.

“Candidates in the spring have been getting Spring Break to campaign online, which isn”t fair to the people who campaigned in the fall,” Larson said. “Bailey Brown, who is the other Election Coordinator, and I decided that two weeks was an appropriate amount of time to campaign.”

In the future, if senate believes three weeks is better than two for campaigning, Larson said they always have the ability to change the length by amending the Rules and Regulations. However, she said this new bill will not negatively affect spring candidates.

“Normally senate candidates have not run for senate before, so it shouldn”t affect the way they run their campaigns,” Larson said. “Presidential candidates may be a little upset, but they had the opportunity to speak out against the legislation on the senate floor last night and they didn”t.”

She said this addition to the Rules and Regulations will ensure fairness among candidates in the fall and spring elections.

“We”ve been working to make sure ASUI is more effective as a whole,” Larson said. “Making the fall elections equal to the spring elections is a great way to make sure we have the best candidates for senate every time.”

ASUI President Max Cowan said establishing fairness in both the fall and spring elections is vital.

“We”ve seen how having extended and drawn out campaigns have deteriorated the level of dialogue on the national scale,” Cowan said. “I think we do ourselves a service by ensuring that campaigns are of a measured length and substantive in nature.”

Cowan said the decision between two weeks or three week of campaigning isn”t a critical factor in this bill. The legislation establishes clarity and consistency, which Cowan said was the importance of passing this legislation.

“We”ve had problems in previous elections with misunderstandings about the length of campaigns,” Cowan said. “This has led some candidates to believe that they are allowed to campaign before others.”

Cowan said this bill gives stability and transparency to ASUI elections, which is why he said he is supportive of it.

“In the past, some candidates took the opportunity to campaign longer than other candidates,” Cowan said. “We want to make sure everyone begins their campaign at the same place.”

Jessica Gee  can be reached at  arg-news@uidaho.edu  or on Twitter @JessicaC_Gee

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