Elections Commission Annual Report

The Elections Commission supervises the conduct of elections to the Senate and all other elective bodies whose power derives from the Senate. This report briefly describes our activities and accomplishments, the matters we considered, and our recommendations for next year’s committee.

Activities and Accomplishments

This term, the Commission, the Committee on Structure and Operations and the University Senate approved several amendments to the code. Most of the changes dealt with language matters but several substantive changes were made in areas regarding procedures and electronic matters.

This list describes some of the substantive amendments:

Matters considered and matters pending

Informal Inquiries

In an election for two research officer seats, one candidate sent out a campaign message to an email list compiled by the candidate himself. The issue that arose was whether the candidate used indiscriminate electronic messaging and whether the Elections Code could be more specific on this point?

We determined that the code was too vague on the meaning of “indiscriminate electronic message.”  But we assumed that sending campaign emails to members outside of one’s constituency might fall under this term.  As a result of this inquiry, we amended the code to remove the term after determining that CUIT policies would directly cover this issue.

In another circumstance, we were asked whether incumbents could conduct their own elections when a division already had a divisional elections commission? We determined that incumbents could not conduct elections because an “incumbent” could not be a “divisional elections commission,” within the terms of the Code.

Our most recent question dealt with observers and balloting practices at one school.  After a flood destroyed election ballots at one school, the question arose as to whether a candidate-chosen observer could also be the candidate’s spouse?  We determined that the Faculty Handbook suggests that this situation would fall under a “conflict of interest.” Thus, we believed that circumstances like that should be avoided.


Recommendations for 2013

We recommend making further changes to Code in regards to standards for electronic usage.

The Elections Commission should also consider the possibility of encouraging most divisions to adopt electronic means for conducting elections or to work with CUIT to provide the capacity for all divisions to conduct elections through electronic means. 

Respectfully submitted,

Steven Jean, Elections Commissioner
Columbia Law School 2013


Elections Commission 2012-2013

Paul Duby (Tenured, SEAS), non-senator  
Steven Jean (Student, Law), non-senator, CHAIR 
Raluca Marian (Administrative staff), non-senator