The Student Government Association will hold its annual general election on Feb. 26 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on campus and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. online.
“It is a busy time for the SGA,” senior communication studies major and SGA president McKenna Stone said. “It is a time where the community really comes together and eventually, as a community, you’re getting to choose their future leaders.”
The different executive positions up for reelection are SGA president, vice president, attorney general, election commissioner, treasurer and a senator position. Senior international studies major and SGA election commissioner Katie Rogers said the candidates’ names will be released Feb. 20 at midnight.
“I’ve been on election commission since my freshman year. I’ve always loved campus elections,” Rogers said. “Getting to put on the elections and work with the candidates is a very rewarding position.”
Candidates who turned their applications in on Feb. 19 will go to a mandatory meeting the same day at 5 p.m. and will be able to campaign midnight on Feb. 20. Candidates have six days to campaign before elections close with the possibility of a run-off on Feb. 28. Rogers also said there will be a page on the SGA website displaying the candidates and their potential position.
Senior communication studies major Casey Ford ran for and got homecoming queen in 2018, which she said was due to encouragement from friends. She said the six days of campaigning felt short but thinks it proposes a great challenge. She also said the sign-up process was fairly easy.
“It really isn’t a huge position. In the sense that you aren’t running for office to fill a role or do a job, but it is a really unique opportunity to represent Southern Miss, and that’s what was appealing to me,” Ford said. “That kind of thing—and the campaign process involved—was and still is very foreign to me, so I think those couple of weeks were uncomfortable for me in some ways but also a lot of fun.”
There will be a town hall-style debate between presidential and executive seat candidates at the Joe Paul Theater the night before election day on Feb. 25 at 5 p.m. Rogers said the SGA will gather questions from the student body through social media before the event that will be proctored, but there will not be a Q&A section.
“The debate is going to be really interesting,” Stone said. “It is open to the public. Any student can come and hear the platform points of the candidates.”
Stone and Rogers both are extremely happy with how the online voting and their other changes to the election code have affected the elections.
“[Elections] are a very straightforward process, and that is something I worked very hard on this year,” Rogers said. “I realized that an online voting system would be very beneficial to the students.”
Rogers said an early announcement of running is considered early campaigning which is against the SGA election code and will disqualify the candidate. Another issue that can disqualify a candidate is candidates setting up unofficial voting stations. If a candidate is seen handing smart devices to students with the express purpose to get the student to vote, Rogers said to contact her, and they will be disqualified.
Stone said since she ran unopposed for both SGA president last year and SGA vice president the year prior that her campaign experience is different from most people’s application, but she also said she did campaign as a senator.
“I haven’t had to personally experience an election in quite some time, but I’ve also been on the more administrative side these past two years,” Stone said. “From my experience, it is a really exciting time for the whole community.”
Students can either vote on campus during the times mentioned above at the Thad Cochran Center, Scianna Hall or the Liberal Arts Building or online at https://apps.usm.edu/sga/voting/.