The deadline to apply to be a student body representative at the University of Minnesota is quickly approaching, yet no one seems to be in a hurry.
The All-Campus Elections Commission is preparing for the upcoming election season, which starts next month, by amending the rule book and trying to increase student engagement.
Though student interest last year was low, the number of applicants varies from year to year for positions in the Minnesota Student Association, Council of Graduate Students, Professional Student Government and Student Senate.
“My freshman year there was a lot of competition ... and last year there was a shortage of at-large representatives, only 18 people who ran for 20 positions,” said junior Brianna Hanson, Minnesota Student Association representative.
Most of the responsibility for advertising upcoming elections and open positions falls on the current position holder, Hanson said.
“The biggest barrier is just getting people to run. When only 18 people run for 20 positions, it’s hard to select people that represent your opinion,” she said.
Junior Maria Versteeg, communications commissioner for the ACEC, said the rule book is amended after each election season based on feedback from staff and voters.
In December, an amendment to the rule book lowered the spending limit for dual-ticket campaigns — a campaign where a presidential and vice presidential candidate pair up — from $2,000 to $1,000.
The out-of-pocket funds provided by the candidate can be used for a variety of things, such as paying those who worked on their campaign or paying for social media marketing, Versteeg said.
In addition to the spending cap, the ACEC worked to amend the complaints process for constituents, Versteeg said.
“We received feedback from some students and University community members to let us know that they did not know how to report a suspected rules violation,” she said.
The ACEC added a point system into its election process, which lets the commission remove points from a candidate if they do not follow the rules outlined in the election rule book updated in December.
If a candidate drops below a certain number of points, they could be subject to fines or disqualification, Versteeg said.
“The amendments made to the rule book this year were for clarity’s sake,” she said.
MSA President Trish Palermo and Hanson said they are urging students to run and take advantage of the opportunity to prompt real change.
The annual positions up for election this year include student body president and vice president, student senators, 20 at-large positions and more.
The deadline to file for student government candidacy is Jan. 31 and campus-wide elections will be held March 5-7.