The Student Senate Elections Commission told Chief of Staff Zach Thomason it fears it will be unable to function properly with only three out of the five members required on the commission.
Though Thomason appointed three of the necessary five students to the commission he did not appoint the rest of the members by the first cycle of the spring semester, as required by Article II, Section 4, of Student Senate Rules and Regulations. The commission pointed this out to Thomason in a letter Sunday morning.
“The lack of a full Elections Commission has hindered the commission’s ability to effectively operate and assess future risks as the 2020 election heats up,” the commission said in the letter.
A lack of at least one more member could prevent the commission from effectively enforcing the elections code, said Elections Commission Chairman Wyatt Risovi-Hendrickson. If a commission member brings forward the complaint, they cannot vote or hear the complaint because the commission is not full.
In addition, Risovi-Hendrickson said the commission is concerned that subsequently-appointed members will not get a say in election decisions, such as the official calendar.
“If we don’t get a fourth member, especially as the election is progressing more suddenly, we could potentially run into some various serious issues,” Risovi-Hendrickson said. “We’re hoping to be proactive about it.”
The University of Kansas Student Senate will look to fill two vacancies on its executive board in coming days.
Thomason said although he understands the commission’s concerns, the open seats are a result of a lack of student interest in the positions, not a shortcoming in his performance as chief of staff.
Thomason said previous commission members did not want to come back into their former positions, and the positions remained vacant despite his recruitment efforts, including his release of the application, advertisement in Senate meetings and classroom presentations. Other factors such as commissioner’s lack of payment and reputation with politically-engaged groups also contributed, Thomason said.
“I think their concerns are absolutely valid,” Thomason said. “I think it speaks to a greater issue that is beyond the operations of the chief of staff office.”
“I really would like to see this commission full,” Thomason said. “One of my goals in this office has been to have a five people. I’m going to continue to work on it and I’d love to see that students would respond to those applications because I think it’s a phenomenal opportunity to be involved in Student Senate in an unconventional way.”
To solve the issue and preserve the integrity of the election, Risovi-Hendrickson said Thomason must appoint two more commissioners and have them confirmed before Senate as soon as possible.
Risovi-Hendrickson said no coalitions have filed for the upcoming election so far.