Students to vote on three constitutional amendments

While the race for MSSA president, vice president, and senators have commanded much of the attention this election season, this Tuesday’s ballot will also feature three constitutional amendments proposed by the Constitution Commission.

According to commission member David Cowan, in order for a constitutional amendment to pass, there must be a 10 percent student body voter turnout and it must be approved by more than half of all votes. Article XI Section 2 states that amendments “shall be subject to ratification during elections by a simple majority of a number equivalent to at least ten (10) percent of the non-extended campus students and to approval, modification, or disapproval by the University President.” The text of this year’s proposed amendments has not yet been finalized, but Constitution Commission chair Daniel Gries explains the content of each amendment.

One of the amendments would change the voting procedure so that presidential and vice presidential candidates of the same party run as a combined ticket. Under the current constitution, students vote for the positions of MSSA president and vice president separately. This means that students could conceivably elect a president and vice president from opposing parties. Gries notes that this has in fact occurred in the past and that the Constitution Committee is seeking to avoid such a potentially dysfunctional situation in the future.

Another amendment deals with the constitutional amendment ratification process itself. The current constitution requires more than half of all votes cast to be in favor of a proposed amendment in order for that amendment to be ratified. Because of this, abstentions count as votes against the amendment. The new amendment would not factor in abstentions. Ratification of amendments would simply require more “yes” votes than “no” votes. The new amendment would not affect the 10 percent threshold requirement.

Another amendment proposes several fairly insignificant “housekeeping” changes to the text of the constitution. Gries notes that one such change is to replace each mention of “MnSCU” with “Minnesota State,” the system’s new name.

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