Last week’s Senate meeting saw the confirmation of one of the most difficult positions in the ASUO to fill properly: the elections board coordinator. This year, the responsibility to establish rules for and oversee elections will fall on sophomore Monica Nunan’s shoulders.
Nunan is an English and women and gender studies double major. She applied for the position of coordinator because of her interest in politics.
“I thought that would be a really cool way to be involved and actually make a difference,” Nunan said.
Each year, the coordinator is in charge of writing election rules, advertising, interviewing and hiring the remaining four members of the elections board, and managing campaigns as they progress throughout winter and spring term. It is one of the hardest positions for the Executive Board to find candidates for, because it requires a lack of prior connections to ASUO members that could lead to biased decisions, yet it calls for a person with some knowledge of elections and spirit for political engagement.
“You have to find someone who is not biased but the only way to do that is to find someone who doesn’t know anything, really,” Senator Andrew Lubash said. “But they still have to be organized and all of these other things. That’s why it’s so hard.”
The Executive ran an advertisement in the Emerald for weeks and received only two applications in November. However, the other applicant withdrew their application. Consequently, Nunan was the only one called in for an interview.
“The process was a little jumbled in terms of taking applications after their deadline, because no one was applying,” Chief of Staff Lamar Wise said. However, he said, Nunan’s interview made it clear that she was a qualified candidate for the job.
“She already had some experience with outreach for a regular state election,” Wise said, referring to Nunan’s involvement in the Vote or Vote campaign to register students last year. “We were confident that she could do the job based on her experience with being an editor at the Siren… We also got the sense that she was very good at communication, and that, I personally think, has been lacking the past couple years.”
Nunan’s confirmation was marked by concern, most vocally from Senator Emeritus and current EMU Board member Taylor Allison about the thoroughness of the hiring process due to the lack of applicants or interviews. However, Senate confirmed Nunan 9-4-1.
The elections board coordinator must also be prepared to handle grievances in the thick of elections, and so an ability to stand one’s ground is also valuable. Wise compared the position of the coordinator to a referee in a sports competition.
“Right now I’m pretty open to what people are telling me, but I’ll be looking at past elections and what may have gone wrong,” Nunan said.
Every coordinator and elections board shapes elections differently. Nunan’s goals are to implement spending caps on campaigns, distribute elections information as early as possible and hold elections early spring term. These ideas will take further shape when Nunan hires the rest of the board.
“The feeling of accomplishment that’ll happen after I’ve read the elections results, I’m just kind of looking forward to that moment, like oh I did it, I managed to do all the things I needed to do,” she said.
Follow Kaylee Tornay on Twitter @ka_tornay