Voter transparency bill passed by SGA

The Student Government Association (SGA) passed a bill Feb. 24 mandating voter transparency, which enables students to find out any senator’s vote on any issue.

The bill, called the “Open Government Act,” has been compared to the “Voter Transparency Bill,” which failed to pass earlier in the year.

“The bill is different in several respects, and we [were] hoping that more people on Senate have come to see the inappropriateness of the current system,” SGA Senator and the bill’s lead author David Maciewicz said.

Prior to the passing of this bill, two senators would have needed to introduce a “motion to use voting transparency,” which would then have required approval of the Senate before a transparent vote could be conducted.

Now that the bill has passed, each vote will be required to be documented by the senate speaker.

“Basically, we (were) trying to have all final votes on bills and resolutions be recorded and made available publicly,” SGA Chair and bill sponsor Bryce Jones said.

“The ultimate goal is to have a resource on our Web site that provides the information regarding how each senator voted on a bill or resolution,” Jones said.

According to the Open Government Act, all students have the right to vote for the individuals they want to represent them.

“Supporters of this bill feel that it is very important to have this recording, because it allows for students to see how their elected representatives are voting and if they are actually voting how they pledged they would,” Jones said.

Some SGA Senators disagreed with the motives they felt were behind the bill.

“I’m whole-heartedly against it,” SGA Senator Mike Glynne said. “The people that [wanted] this passed are very vocal on campus. Those who are vocal generally only represent the minorities. This would only harm those people who vote completely different from the vocal minority.”

Jones stood behind his sponsorship.

“Senators should be held accountable for how they vote and they shouldn’t be afraid to stand behind their vote whether it is recorded or not,” Jones said.Ê”The folks that don’t want their votes to be recorded should reconsider their motives for being on SGA.”

According to the act, the SGA is modeled in principle on other American representative bodies and should operate in a similar manner. These democratically elected bodies hold open and recorded votes on the business brought before them.

“They claim our SGA is modeled after other American democracies and, in theory, we’re not, because we have no actual, legitimate power,” Glynne said. “The SGA is more symbolic than anything else.”

Jones recognized the issues that some senators had with the bill.

“Some senators wanted it to be written in a way that enumerated more specifically what would be and would not be recorded,” Jones said. “Some senators felt that having their votes public may prompt more negative situations to occur to them.”

According to the act, when a person graduates or resigns from Senate, their voting history is removed.

“Information will be made available in the coming weeks when the bill is signed,” Maciewicz said.