Candidates for the Spring 2020 University-wide elections submitted their campaign expenses to the University Board of Elections last Thursday for the interim campaign expenditure report. The report, released Tuesday, projects that the election will cost up to $2,041.67, an increase from last year’s anticipated value of $1,492.66.
According to Spencer Whitney, UBE vice chair for candidates and third-year McIntire student, the majority of the reported expenses so far have been zero.
“There’s only a few people — most of them are running for Student Council President, Vice President for Organizations and Vice President for Administration — that have spent any money at all, basically,” Whitney said. “The highest amount is $106, currently.”
Third-year College students Ellen Yates, Shefalika Prasad and Darynha Gnep are campaigning together for Student Council President, VPO and VPA, respectively. They have currently each spent $106.52 and are projecting to spend $118.35 each.
According to Yates, the majority of their costs are going towards advertising on Grounds, including larger costs of printing and minor campaign materials, such as chalk and paint.
All three of the candidates have received UBE grants which helps with their spending costs. In order to receive grants from UBE, candidates are required to fill out a form explaining the amount they need and what they will be allocating their funds towards. The application for grants was due Feb. 7 and optional for all candidates.
Third-year College students Hunter Wagenaar, Ilyas Saltani and Veronica Merril were also running together for Student Council President, VPA and VPO, respectively. They had spent no money on their campaign, but their projected expenses were $185 each.
During closing remarks at last night’s live Student Council presidential candidate forum, Wagenaar announced he is withdrawing from his campaign citing allegations of violations in endorsing procedure policies. Merril also released a statement withdrawing from the election.
According to Wagenaar, they were each expecting to allocate $35 for chalk, $50 for handbill printing and $100 dollars for flyers. The three candidates were splitting their expenses and paying from personal funds.
Six candidates from UJC and Honor reported current or future spending. Lauren Kim and Slade Sinak, both second-year candidates for UJC College Representative, have projected spending $70 and $20, respectively. Second-year Nijat Khanbabayev is also running for this position but has no reported expenses.
Third-year candidates for College Honor Representative Schuyler Guare, Andrew Chambers and Zoe Olbrys have reported spending of $35, $25 and $20, respectively. Third-year College students Madhav Nair, Somes Huwiler and Christian Smith are also running for this position but projected no expenses for their campaigns. In addition, Isabelle Edwards, third-year candidate for Education Honor Representative, has spent $5 on her unopposed campaign.
Five candidates running for school council positions have also projected expenses for their campaigns. Third-year Sarah Meng projects to spend $25 in her campaign against third-year Golnar Mostashari for Engineering Student Council Vice President, who projected no expenses. Catherine Barton and Jack Good, third-year candidates for Engineering Student Council President, are planning to spend $45 and $88.02, respectively. Third-year Sofia Ponos, running unopposed for Fourth Year Board President of Engineering Council, expects to spend $20. In addition, third-year Tyle Windsor expects to spend $30 in his race for Commerce Council President against third-year Brett Hoffman, who reported no expenses.
First-year College students Kaylee Corvin and Lauren Hale are running for Second Year Council President and Vice President, and have reported expenses of $25 and $20, respectively. First-year College students Sophia Liao and Margaret Vicheck, also campaigning together for Second Year Council President and Vice President, project spending $32.30 each. For Third Year Council President and Vice President, second-year College students Ryan Alcorn and Casey Gottlieb both reported projected expenses of $71.55, while opponents Emma Sisk and and Jayla Hart reported a range of planned costs from $25 to $75.
The report does not specifically list what the candidates chose to spend their money on, although some chose to note it in the report. Whitney noted that the majority of funds are spent on posters and other advertising materials, but that many people choose to use mostly social media, which is free. Of the 88 candidates who reported expenses, 56 anticipate having no costs.
If candidates planned on spending more than they currently have, they noted their projected spending on their report.
“A lot of people’s projected isn’t that much more … If they are going to spend money, they usually spend it in preparation for campaigning,” Whitney said. “But obviously, once you get into the campaign season, usually people’s expectations change or they realize ‘Okay, I need to focus in on this,’ and they will spend some more in one area or another.”
Endorsing organizations often ask candidates about their projected expenses and often will only endorse spending under a certain amount. Although UBE places no cap on expenses, Whitney noted that the precedent that the candidate’s image is often tied to their spending keeps many candidates from spending a large amount.
“There is a thing that some endorsed organizations do — it’s not under our purview — but some endorsed organizations can decide if [a candidate] spent more than this amount, [they] don’t want to interview or don’t want to endorse [the candidate], and that’s their prerogative,” Whitney said.
According to Whitney, UBE has been paying closer attention to the expenditure reports in recent years.
“One candidate for Student Council President spent an amount in the thousands of dollars, and I believe we had the expenditure report before that, but it was not as comprehensive as it is now,” Whitney said. “So after that, we really ramped it up.”
In the 2017 Student Council election, Student Council presidential candidate Kelsey Kilgore projected she would spend $2,490 on her campaign. The estimated collective spending for candidates was estimated to be $6,800, which was more than double the previous year. The final expenditure report found that actual spending among all candidates totalled $3,343.64.
In 2018, 13 endorsing student organizations — including Black Student Alliance, University Democrats and College Republicans — responded to the previous election by signing a petition to limit presidential candidate spending to $250 and pledging to not endorse any candidates that spent over this amount. The UBE, however, has not enforced this spending limit on candidates.