Electioneering guidelines have been sent to the Texas State community and candidates for local and state office for the first time in order to clear up any confusion about rules for campaigning on campus.
Students, faculty and staff were emailed Texas State’s electioneering guidelines Oct. 15, one week before early voting began in the LBJ Student Center. Joanne Smith, vice president for Student Affairs, said the email was prompted after concerns were raised from both students and candidates during previous election cycles.
Smith said some candidates were concerned during last year’s elections that they did not have adequate opportunity to talk with students in The Quad while campaigning. Two students complained they did not understand why the candidates were on campus.
“This year we wanted to make sure that everybody knew that during this period of time there would be candidates in The Quad who may be trying to contact students, staff and faculty to talk about their platforms,” Smith said
According to the email, individuals who will be campaigning on campus must submit an Electioneering Request Form to maintain the security, health and safety for person and property and campus. The restrictions include controlling pedestrian and vehicular traffic so free movement, entry and exit from university facilities are permitted.
Smith said candidates are asked to set up their tables at the LBJ Student Center Mall or The Quad because those areas are where people typically go to express their platforms. Candidates are not allowed to set up at any other location on campus.
Smith said some candidates have previously felt restricted by the electioneering guidelines.
Joe Ptak, manager of Planet K, said he witnessed an incident last year where candidates were being confined to staying behind their tables in the campaign areas. He said this rule was confusing to him.
Joyce Cowan, Hays County elections administrator, said candidates can walk through the LBJ Mall or The Quad if they want to shake hands with students.
“We cannot confine somebody and say ‘Here is your six foot space, and you cannot go anywhere else,’” Cowan said.
According to the guidelines, the Dean of Students designates one or more places near the polling area where persons may place signs for or against any candidate, measure or political party. Signs must be at least 100 feet from the outside door of a polling place.
The guidelines cite a University Policy and Procedure Statement that allows the Dean of Students to designate appropriate areas where signs may be placed during early voting this year. The designated areas are the LBJ Student Center Mall, LBJ Student Center Bus Loop and The Quad.
“(The guidelines) give more access to the signs than they do to the candidates themselves,” Ptak said.
Ptak said the electioneering guidelines deny candidate access to students who do not typically pass through the LBJ Mall or The Quad.
Cowan said the 100 feet rule is a state law put in place to protect the security and privacy of an individual’s vote.
“(The rule) is to maintain that you are not being harassed as you are going into the polling area,” Cowan said.
Cowan said the rules are put in place to protect voters and not disenfranchise them all while maintaining a controlled facility.