As the presidential candidates smile, spin, and spend their way toward November, some students might feel tempted to be cynical about the nation's electoral process.
Perhaps it will hearten them to know that election reform is high on someone's agenda: A special committee headed by Will Hales '08 is currently exploring ways to improve Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) elections.
The committee, which is scheduled to submit a report to BSG as soon as next week, will look at requirements for running for BSG positions, including president and treasurer. Last year's races for BSG president and treasurer resulted in debate about eligibility.
"We've known all along that there are a number of problems with our elections," said BSG President Dustin Brooks '08. "People wanted to reconsider the requirements we had for people before taking office. We're providing a venue for that reconsideration."
Hales said the committee will also scrutinize the student body's connection to the election system.
Appointed by BSG, the committee consists of Hales, Maura Cooper '08, Emma Verill '10, Brendan Egan '08, Hassan Muhammed '10, and Aisha Woodward '08.
None of the members are BSG representatives, according to President Dustin Brooks '08, because "the idea was that an objective view might come up with some better thoughts."
The committee recently closed an online survey to gauge student opinion on the current system, and next week will present its findings to BSG.
Hales provided the Orient with the preliminary results of the committee's survey. Because survey participants responded on a voluntary basis, the data may not be representative of the entire student body. Nonetheless, there were some interesting results.
First, respondents were almost perfectly split'148 "yes," 146 "no"?over whether they thought candidates for BSG president need prior experience. Under the current BSG constitution, any candidate for the presidency must have previous experience.
Last year, junior Ian Yaffe's bid for presidency was derailed when a constitutional amendment to get rid of the experience requirement failed. While the majority of voters sided with Yaffe, turnout fell short of the 30 percent necessary for the referendum to be valid.
However, nearly 80 percent of the survey's respondents said that they had voted in the last BSG election.
According to Hales, one of the potential changes the committee may recommend is creating an "independent elections supervising body," since BSG elections are currently self-administered.
Though the online survey was a preliminary step in the investigation, Brooks said that the committee will ultimately deliver several recommendations to BSG. Changes that affect the BSG constitution will be voted on by all students, while any others can be approved by the body itself.