Campaigning for SG starts as candidates court voters

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Moments after campaigning opened for the 2011 Student Government elections Wednesday morning, Student Government hopefuls flooded campus hot spots with candidate logos and banners.

Because the Student Government Elections Code prohibited campaigning before Feb. 16, candidates were up until the wee hours of the morning preparing their campaigns, with some forfeiting sleep completely.

Vice-presidential candidate Sameer Desai, presidential candidate Abel Mulugheta’s running mate, said the executive alliance and their campaign members spent the entire night setting up.

“Literally at 12:01 when campaigning started, we swarmed Jester to hang banners and signs so when people woke up in the morning, they’d see ‘Abel and Sameer,’” he said. “We all lost sleep but we felt it was worth it because our campaign became a part of campus this morning.“

The pair’s logo, “One Texas,” was plastered all over Jester Center as early as 3 a.m. The team spent the rest of the night establishing their presence online, tagging more than 600 students on Facebook and inviting them to view their website.

Vice-presidential candidate Ashley Baker, who is running with Natalie Butler, said the most effective way they got students on board with their campaign was by calling on friends to help display the logo. Both Butler and Baker are currently University-wide representatives in SG.

“We reached out to friends about helping us campaign and we had an overwhelming response,” she said. “Our team has committed to tabling, wearing T-shirts and getting out as much information about our campaign as possible.”

Baker and Butler’s team passed out almost 5,000 fliers and more than 90 T-shirts on campus and have signs posted in West Campus.

Voting for the general elections begins at 8 a.m. March 3 and runs until 5 p.m. March 4. Polling stations will be available in Jester Center, the Flawn Academic Center and the Student Activities Center.

The Election Supervisory Board holds all of the candidates accountable, said the board’s chair, Eric Nimmer. He said the board will strictly enforce restrictions on all campaign spending.

“If any candidate spends a dime in regards to their campaign, they have to report it, and it has to be open knowledge to the public,” he said.

The spending limitations range from $350 for college representatives to $900 for an executive alliance.

Nimmer said the spending caps are to keep election races fair for every candidate.

“We don’t want one team spending $45,000 on campaign and being more visible simply because they can afford it,” he said. “The limit levels the playing field and puts everyone on the same page.”

Each student may cast one vote for president and vice president, one vote for each available seat for their college and eight votes for University-wide representatives at a campus location or online on the SG website. Students can also vote for representatives on the Texas Student Media board, the University Co-op Board of Directors, the Union Board and Graduate Student Assembly.