The non-contested results are out for the ASUCI Spring Elections, but four out of five executive office results and the student stimulus package referendum are still under review.
Due to the high number of complaints, most of this year’s election results are still pending two weeks after the election closed. The uncontested results released last Tuesday, however, indicate the election of Kristin Oto to the Vice President of Student Services and the passage of The Green Initiative Fund by a narrow margin. Additionally, several school-specific and at-large representatives were finalized.
“Because of the high level of complaints this year – we just got this ridiculous volume of complaints against things that have never had a complaint against them before,” said Kelli Chew, chair of the elections commission for the ASUCI election.
“For example, there was a complaint against the [election] process this year and a complaint against the student referendum, which has never happened,” Chew said. “It’s a little bit difficult because now we have a question of what report is valid now, who gets to decide whether or not these complaints are legitimate and which party and which faction of student government gets to decide on that. Because of that there’s been a little bit of confusion over it.”
In addition to the typical divide of promotions for “yes” and “no” on a referendum, a counter-campaign of the student stimulus package emerged.
“This is the first year that there was actually a legitimate counter campaign to a referendum on the ballot. Because of that there was some outspokenness in terms of having a campaign against [the referendum] and there was a complaint against it as well,” Chew said.
Chew urged each person to get their information themselves before rendering judgment.
“For everyone out there, I would recommend they check their information first and know entirely what the campaign is about before they decide to support it or not,” Chew said.
Chew is not deaf to the complaints of extensive time spent reviewing contested results, but considers the time well worth spending to assure unbiased results.
“I know some people have been complaining about the length of time that it takes to get the results out but I would rather do a good job knowing that the process is done correctly and there’s nothing that was inadvertently affected by any bias before we really serve results. I don’t want to rush the release of results and then find out later on that for some reason, was constitutionally shady,” Chew said.
“There is an extremely high volume of complaints right now, which is why this process is going so slowly, because it takes an entire committee to come together and debate about it and come out with an official response that is then made public,” Chew said. “The process takes awhile, but I’m kind of glad that it does because that means there’s a check and balance to the [election] process.”
Originally, the elections commission was going to address each complaint and announce the commission’s opinion on each contested issue in turn. However, as per ASUCI Elections Code, each contested result is allowed 48 hours to submit a further opinion by the party that lost the contest and appeal to the Judicial Board.
“We didn’t want to release them staggered as they came in because [each deadline would] be more difficult to keep track of,” Chew said. “At the moment there are ones that have already been voted on and we already know the response for, it’s just a manner of finishing up arguments for the last ones and coming out with a response for them. So there’s a few that we’re already hanging on to and we plan to release them all at once so that everyone’s 48 hours can start at the same time.”
As soon as the elections commission releases responses to the complaints, parties may submit their complaint to the Judicial Board. These complaints can only be against the process that the elections commission used to release their response; no new evidence can be introduced into this round of judgment by the Judicial Board. All evidence must have been submitted to the elections commission when the issues were first contested and the parties involved were notified to present evidence.
While the majority of elections results are tied up with legislative council, the sustainability referendum, The Green Initiative Fund, was passed by students for a narrow 60.8 percent win. The referendum needed 60 percent of voters to be passed.
Max Broad, TGIF co-author, remarks that the success was a miracle with student concerns about rising tuition. The group campaigned hard on campus, informing students about the importance of sustainability, but the real selling point was just that: sustainability.
“Despite our hard work, TGIF sold itself on an environmental agenda,” Broad said.
The program will be put into effect next year and students will be able to begin applying for funding in 2010.
The referendum imposes a $3.50 increase on student fees, bringing in a total of $210,000. One-third of this funding will be put directly back into student financial aid.
“All non-mandatory student fee increases have to go back to financial aid so that the students who are financially burdened don’t feel the increase,” Broad said.
This leaves TGIF with $130,000 dollars to allocate to students with plans to go green.
The group plans to provide students with two application periods, funding between three and four projects per year.
“UC Berkeley had $1 million applied for and they have about [$150,000 to $200,000]. They do about 10 projects. The first year we’ll keep it small, do about three to four projects and next year we’ll get more serious about it and do about 10 projects a year,” Broad said.
The initiative places a green commission in ASUCI in order to manage these funds. In fall 2009, one student will be elected as Sustainability Commissioner and four other students will apply to the remaining positions on the commission.
In regards to future plans with the referendum, Broad noted that, while it’s too early to tell what the projects will be, a good team will be fundamental in the success of sustainability.
“I think we really have the luxury of some great staff and motivated faculty, so I think this will go well with the support of the professionals working with UCI. Hopefully that’ll really help TGIF,” Broad said.
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