January 1, 2019

Article I: Purpose

The purpose of the Associated Students of Montana State University (ASMSU) Elections Policy is to outline the rules that shall govern all ASMSU elections and campaigning. A copy of this document must be provided to candidates before they begin campaigning for any election.

Article II: Campaign Rules

Section 1: General Guidelines

  1. Rules are meant to ensure fairness, keep order, and preserve the integrity of the election.
  2. All candidates are responsible for their campaigns, which includes the conduct of others whom they know are campaigning for them. It is the responsibility of all candidates to know the campaign rules and to ensure that their campaign is compliant with the Elections Policies.
    1. All campaigns are responsible for the actions of any agents of their campaign which shall be defined as any individual or group which a candidate has empowered to campaign for them (i.e. giving a person more stickers/posters/etc. than they can personally use).
    2. Candidates are not responsible for materials that have not been distributed by themselves or an agent of their campaign.
    3. Permanently affixed items, such as stickers, on personal property in a classroom does not constitute a violation.
  3. Campaigning is defined as: publicly promoting one’s candidacy. This includes, but is not limited to: postering, distribution of email material, chalking, speeches, and the publishing of a campaign websites or social media accounts. Additional campaigning activities will be at the discretion of the ASMSU Supreme Court.
    1. Organizing a campaign is not a violation of this rule- so far as candidates do not make a public display of those efforts. Public display of organizing a campaign does not include private informational meetings with a student, faculty, or staff member of the University or Community.
  4. All executive campaigns (teams running for President and Vice-President), and Senate campaigns, must abide by campaign funding restrictions as defined by the ASMSU Bylaws.
    1. Each campaign must submit a preliminary budget for all campaign spending no later than 48 hours after filing to the Chief Justice of the ASMSU Supreme Court via email.
    2. Material donations to a campaign must be reported to the ASMSU Supreme Court.
      1. Physical and Print Materials, in-kind donations, or paid social advertisements, do count towards ASMSU Election financing limits.
      2. Independent campaigning made by students and/or student organizations do not count towards the ASMSU Election Financing Limits.
  5. All candidates must be registered students per the MSU Registrar’s Office, by add date, to be eligible to run. Under ASMSU guidelines, the candidate must be enrolled in a minimum one credit(s), pay the student activity fee, and be in good academic standing.
  6. Senate candidates must be current members of the college for which they wish to represent, according to the Registrar’s Office.

 Section 2: Active Campaigning  

  1. Candidates may begin active campaigning as soon as they have filed to run and submitted their budget to the Chief Justice of the ASMSU Supreme Court.
    1. Candidates may not file to run any sooner than the end of the rules meeting.
    2. The deadline to file to run will be one week before the primary election for executive teams, and one week before the general election for senatorial candidates.
  2. Campaigns must follow all advertising policies established by the University and its entities.
    1. It is the responsibility of each candidate to ensure their campaign is compliant with all internal and external advertising policies.
    2. Violating the advertising policies delineated in the Election's Policies, of the University, or of any entity where campaigning occurs for an ASMSU election can be considered an elections violation.
    3. Should the violation be of the Election’s Policies, the ASMSU Supreme Court will proceed in normal form.
      1. Should campaign advertisements be found in restricted areas not governed by any particular body, then candidates will be instructed to remove the advertisements.
        1. Failure to remove advertisements deemed to be in restricted areas can constitute an elections violation.
    4. Suggested resources for accessing relevant advertising policies include, but are not limited to:
      1. http://www.montana.edu/engagement/organizations/policies.html
      2. http://www.montana.edu/fgh/ad-solicit-policy.html
  3. Campaigns must abide by the following rules regarding campaign related emails:
    1. Candidates and campaign associates may only send campaign emailmaterials to listservs of which they are members.
      1. People who remove themselves from a listserv soon after sending the listserv a campaign email are not members of the list.
      2. Candidates cannot send out to listservs implying endorsement by third parties.
        1. Student organizations, or external organizations, are free to endorse candidates at their discretion.
      3. Individual college listservs cannot be used unless advertising all candidates eligible for election for the college’s respective Senate election and for all Executive candidates.
      4. If requested by the ASMSU Supreme Court, any candidate must verify they are a member of any listserv used.
    2. Blind Carbon Copy may not be used.
  4. Campaigns may not engage in any form of balloting which is defined as “providing a student a device with which to vote (iPad, laptop, etc.).”
  5. Requests for campaign fund reimbursements must be made through the Election’s Director.
    1. Candidates for Executive Team may spend no more than $500 on campaign related expenses as a complete ticket; candidates for senate may spend no more than $100.
    2. Candidates for Executive Team will be eligible for reimbursement of campaign funds not to exceed $250; Candidates for Senate will be eligible for reimbursement of campaign funds not to exceed $50.
      1. The Election’s Director shall have requisite funds to reimburse five total candidates for Executive Teams and 75 total candidates for Senate. If more candidates run for office, the total funds for reimbursement shall be divided by the total number of candidates (eg. If six candidates for Executive Teams run, each team will be eligible for reimbursements not to exceed $208.33).
      2. All Reimbursements will be given as Visa Gift Cards.
    3. Requests for reimbursement must be submitted in writing and must be accompanied by valid receipts.
    4. Reimbursements will be made exclusively in the form of a Visa gift card, no sooner than three business days following a valid request for reimbursement.
    5. If a candidate can show prohibitive financial need, a request may be made to the Supreme Court for an advance on funds, prior to campaigning. These requests will be approved on a case by case basis.
  6. Campaigning is strictly prohibited in classrooms.
    1. Reminding students in a class to vote in an election, with the permission of the instructor for the class and without promoting a candidate in the election, is permissible.
    2. Campaigning may be conducted in classrooms being used for purposes other than those activities organized by the University (club activities etc.).
  7. All active campaigning activities in public spaces of the Strand Union Building, apart from events organized by ASMSU with the Office of Student Engagement, are strictly prohibited.
    1. Student Organization meetings in the Strand Union Building held in a reserved room or similar private space do not constitute a public space of the Strand Union Building.

     I.   Campaigning may be conducted in Student Support Offices with the permission from the Director, so long as all candidates may have similar access to the space if requested. Use of an organization’s resources by a campaign shall be governed as the organization sees fit provided that no election rules are violated.

    J.   Campaigns may not bribe voters. Bribery is defined as: the application of such influences [anything of monetary value or influence] in exchange for votes.

               1. Distributing promotional campaigning items is not a violation of this rule.

    K.   If the candidate is unsure if a particular activity violates election rules, they shall contact the Election’s Director to work in concert with the ASMSU Supreme Court for an official interpretation.

 Section 3: Campaign Rules for Unofficial Write-In Candidates  

  1. Unofficial candidates must satisfy the requirements to be registered students per the MSU Registrar’s Office, by add date, to be eligible to run.
  2. Unofficial candidates must follow the same rules as official candidates unless otherwise indicated in this section.
    1. This section does not apply to official candidates who have been removed from the ballot.
  3. Unofficial candidates may begin campaigning at the time set on the election’s calendar as the start of official campaigning.
  4. If a candidate begins to campaign before being officially approved by the ASMSU Supreme Court, they will be referred to the ASMSU Supreme Court for review and potential sanctioning.

 Article III: Procedure for Complaints 

  1. Election’s disputes shall be directed to the Chief Justice of the ASMSU Supreme Court.
    1. The ASMSU Supreme Court shall send an acknowledgement of receiving such complaint within twenty-four hours of its receipt to all parties involved.
    2. The ASMSU Supreme Court shall conduct a review and hold a meeting for the purposes of a hearing to determine the merit of a dispute and impose any necessary sanctions within 36 hours of notifying all parties involved in the dispute.
      1. If possible, the involved candidate(s), or a representative from their campaign, should be in attendance for the hearing; however, the hearing will proceed regardless of if a member of the campaign is present.
      2. The Chief Justice shall schedule hearings with the intent of having all necessary parties present but will make exceptions as necessary.
  2. An official statement of any ASMSU Supreme Court rulings shall be sent within 12 hours of the decision.
  3. A list of substantiated disputes filed against official candidates shall be available on the ASMSU website.

Article IV: Sanctioning Guidelines 

Section 1: General Guidelines  

  1. It is at the sole discretion of the Supreme Court to issue rulings in conjunction with past precedent.
  2. In general, the ASMSU Supreme Court should evaluate violations based on if the violation gives the offending candidate an unfair advantage in the campaign.
  3. Sanctions shall be imposed in such a way that the punishment fits the crime.
    1. The purpose of imposing sanctions is to nullify any unfair advantage the candidate may have gained by committing the violation. 

Section 2: Disqualification  

  1. Candidates who commit severe violations that undermine the integrity of the election and/or the democratic process void their right to be elected to office during the election in which the violation was committed and is not eligible to run as a write-in candidate.