Nearly $3,000 spent in 2016 student elections, report says

UBE releases student election campaign expenditure reports

The University Board of Elections released February’s University election candidates’ expenditure reports this past weekend. In 2016, undergraduate and graduate candidates spent nearly $3,000 on their campaigns, according to the report.

Each candidate running for Student Council, year-specific offices or school-specific offices is required by the UBE to report all expenses pertaining to their campaign to be made available to voters.

During the course of the election season this past February, candidates reported spending a total of $2,873.18 combined on campaign materials. Candidates for Student Council outspent those running for all other organizations on the ballot, spending a total of $1,332.14 — compared with UJC candidates’ combined spending of only $40.

Krishna Korupolu, UBE vice chair of rules and regulations and third-year Commerce student, said there is no limit to the amount of money a candidate can spend on his campaign as long as he does not violate University policies.

“Basically, it’s money that's spent that you’re going to use to advertise for yourself, [and] donations count as a campaign expenditures,” College student Malcolm Stewart, third-year class president-elect, said.

Stewart reported spending no money on his campaign, but most students use their own funds for their campaigns. However, those who do not have personal funds available can apply for grants from UBE.

“We do have campaign grants for people who want to spend money but don't have the funds themselves,” Korupolu said. “A portion of our budget is allocated to campaign grants that candidates can apply for, [although] candidates usually spend their own money.”

Since UBE’s creation in 2003, candidates have been required to report their campaign expenditures in some format. This year, candidates had to report incurred and projected expenses to UBE by Feb. 15. Previously, candidates had 24 hours to report any expenditure, but Korupolu said this method was not efficient or especially helpful.

“The 24 hour rule was a little more burdensome than it needed to be because there was no additional bonus for the voters or UBE to have candidates report within 24 hours, so it seemed easier for everyone to have it done at one point,” Korupolu said.

Law student Eli Heller, who ran for Student Bar Association president, spent the most money on his campaign, reporting $663.64 total for the election cycle. 

Vice President of Administration Sarah Kenny, a second-year College student, spent the most money on any undergraduate student government election, a total of $355. Kenny drastically outspent her opponents second-year College student Michael Eaton-Byrd, who spent $0, and second-year College student Uhunoma Edamwem, who spent $73.

Graphic by Kriti Sehgal

(L) Lost election

* Won election

Graphic by Kriti Sehgal

Many candidates are pleased with the current expenditure reporting system and the lack of regulation of candidate expenditures.

“I think the current expenditure policy is great as is,” College student Anna Ellis, a third-year Class President candidate, said. “To my knowledge, no one has spent any crazy amount of money on campaigning, [and] there are definitely ways to campaign without spending a lot of money, like on social media for example.”

However, College student Eddie Lin, who ran for second-year class president, said he would like to see a limit on campaign spending, as well as the addition of more and larger grants.

“[Campaign expenditures] should be regulated with a cap and higher grant givings,” Lin said. “This way, nobody is discriminated against [and] candidates would then be able to make important decisions such as whether they should spend on flyers or chalk instead of some candidates just doing everything with the money.”

Lin spent $300 on his campaign and was defeated by first-year Engineering student Ahmad Shawwal, who spent $266.09.

Candidates running for Second Year Class Council far outspent any other Class Council’s elections, reporting $789.64, compared to Third Year Council’s total of $159 and Fourth Year Trustees’ total of $176.

However, Stewart said meeting people and forming relationships is more important than expenditures in winning elections.

“From my experience, you can spend a ton of money for a campaign and it isn’t going to help that much because what’s actually going to help in the voting is the time you've spent getting to know people and talking to them,” Stewart said. “Money, yes, will open the door to getting your name out there, but won’t ultimately get people to vote for you.”

Correction: This article previously listed AJ Collins as the candidate who spent the most on his campaign.

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