SA votes to amend bylaws, elects replacement senator

By Matt Gilbert

The Student Association voted to revise some of its bylaws while recruiting a new senator at last Sunday’s meeting.

According to SA Vice President Dave Gonzalez, the bylaw changes are intended to keep the number of invalid ballots cast to a minimum and to make the election process easier for students.

Gonzalez credits elections commissioner Laura Niesman as being instrumental in making the bylaw changes.

The first bylaw change gives the elections commissioner greater latitude in determining what manner of identification is required by student voters. Article IV-A-1 required voters to produce “an official NIU student ID.”

Many students do not have current ID stickers when SA senate elections take place and student IDs do not tell where students live.

Senators changed the bylaw to require voters to present an ID “and/or whatever else is required by the elections commissioner to prove residency and/or student registration” in order to vote.

Article IV-A-3 was the “five and three” rule. It limited students to vote for “five candidates within their district and up to three candidates outside their district.”

The five and three rule was eliminated. It was thought to limit students in voting for candidates outside their respective district. The SA also felt the rule contradicted other bylaws that said students could vote for candidates in any district. Since there are five districts, the rule limited voters to only four districts.

Other changes were made to maintain consistency. Write-in candidates may now come from any district rather than exclusively from the voter’s own district, as was stated in Article IV-D-7.

The senate also changed the bylaw concerning invalid ballots. Under the old method, if five percent of the ballots in any district came up invalid, the election would need to be repeated in that district.

The new method makes the election process campus-wide, requiring five percent of the total votes cast to be invalid before the entire election is repeated.

Finally, the bylaw requiring candidates to file a signed copy of all printed campaign materials with the elections commissioner was amended to require them to do so before they were posted.

Gonzalez said he was not afraid the changes in the bylaws would lead to a repeat of the controversy about greek domination of the senate in 1988 and 1989 that lead to the split of the original two voting districts into five.

“There are people on the senate now who are minority students, non-traditional students, students from residence halls and off-campus students who all work together. The fear of a greek-dominated senate is an outdated concern.”

Gonzalez said, “This is just the beginning of the bylaw changes. We’re taking proactive measures to ensure that there are no discrepancies in our elections procedures or in our constitution and bylaws.”

The senate also confirmed the appointment of a new senator. Nolen Hendreson fills one of two senate seats vacated when Emily Jerkins and Paul Knox resigned from the senate last week.

Hendreson is the president of Brothers Reaching Out To Help Enlighten and Rejuvenate Self-consciously (BROTHERS), founder and this years’ chair of the Student/Faculty/Administration Poetry contest, a member of the Student Leadership Development Board, a member of the Organization of Black Business Students, a member of the Ombudsman Search Committee, a member of the SA Minority Relations Committee and a judicial advocate.