SG parties would ensure choices in future elections

Unless there’s a sudden rush on the Student Government office today, voters in March’s elections are going to face a conspicuously one-sided ballot.

Senate President Tyler Montell announced Monday that he would run for SG president. While it’s not uncommon for such a declaration to come within a few days of the filing deadline — that is, today — it is unusual for only one candidate to emerge. Unless someone drops off a stack of 500 signatures at the SG office by closing time today, Montell will be running unopposed.

An unchallenged election is a disservice to students. That’s not to say Montell should not be SG president — we’ll reserve our judgment of him as a candidate until he’s had a chance to do such basics as campaigning and fleshing out policies over the next few weeks.

Instead, it’s a matter of giving voters a choice. Without that, a democratic election simply isn’t effective.

The likelihood of a one-sided ballot this year demonstrates the need for SG to develop accountability that spans more than a single year. A party system could accomplish this goal.

With few exceptions, an SG president serves a single, one-year term. Students rarely have the opportunity to use their votes to show approval or disapproval of a president during a re-election bid. Furthermore, a president has only a few months to bring projects to fruition; plans involving sweeping changes inevitably would take longer than a single term to implement. And with the decision on whether to run left entirely to individuals, there’s no guarantee that enough candidates will step up to give voters a diverse field, as this election cycle is likely to show.

SG elections already involve some of the trappings of a party system, mostly in the form of “tickets” of senators that develop around presidential candidates each year. And since presidents usually work their way up through the SG ranks, they have connections to previous administrations.

These affiliations aren’t always as apparent as they should be, though. A party system would change this, adding transparency to the elections and accountability to the presidency. A poor performance by a current SG president could hurt the electability of a future candidate, while an outstanding president could make his or her party a shoo-in for the next election.

There will always be room for an outside challenger — the independent candidate beloved by many — but with two or three parties advancing candidates every year, students would at least be guaranteed ballot options.

For anyone who hasn’t already filed paperwork, the chance to be a part of SG next year is rapidly passing. The opportunity to have a lasting effect and to create more accountability, however, still exists in the promise of a clearly defined party system.