For the second year in a row, ECOS Executive Elections are mired in controversy. The polls closing early this year may have been an innocent mistake stemming from miscommunication, but the circumstances surrounding this election should raise red flags among the student body, which must demand more transparency in deciding its student leaders.
This year’s election saw conflicting last-minute messages about the polls closing early. They ultimately did, and many students were stripped of their opportunity to vote. This may be attributed to miscommunication between the ECOS Elections Committee, Campus Activities (which sent out some of the conflicting messages) and ITS (which proctors the election itself). But greater questions remain.
Just four days before running for Executive Vice President in this year’s executive elections, Junior Meghan Long stepped down from her position as Director of Elections. This left junior Taylor Wagner, Long’s replacement, with insufficient time to plan and organize a clear and transparent election. This echoes the circumstances under which then-Secretary of State of Georgia Brian Kemp administered his own election against Stacey Abrams in the 2018 Gubernatorial race to widespread reports of voter suppression.
Last year, Long and former ECOS Parliamentarian Molly Markshtein let then-ECOS Vice President Marissa Bradley join the race for ECOS President at the last minute through a loophole in the ECOS Constitution. The constitution and other ECOS bylaws were not published online at the time and were only available to members of ECOS. This excluded virtually every student from exploiting the same loophole.
To be clear: there is no evidence to suggest that Long or any member of ECOS, past or present, has intended to manipulate any student election. Still, this is the second consecutive election that appears to have broken ECOS bylaws or navigated through constitutional loopholes, and Eckerd deserves better.
ECOS’s goal is to represent the student body of Eckerd College, and elections that disenfranchise students of their right to vote or operate shrouded in secrecy are beneath the organization.
The executive council administers over half a million dollars annually to different clubs across campus, but more importantly, it provides Eckerd’s students an avenue to voice their opinions to the administration. With the imminent appointment of a new college president, this representative roll of Eckerd’s student government is more important than ever.
Because of the dubious circumstances under which this election was organized and ultimately ended, the students of Eckerd College are entitled to and should demand a new election to provide certainty in the integrity of ECOS as a democratic student organization.