ASUCI Elections: No Change Means More of the Same
In the past, many ASUCI proposals seem to have been tailor-made to benefit only specific groups, but this year ASUCI made huge strides with its UC Irvine Stimulus Package Referendum proposal. The referendum was amazingly inclusive, offering to financially assist groups ranging from multicultural programs to the Greek system to student media. Yet, ask any of your fellow Anteaters if the proposal passed and the most honest answer they will be able to give you is, “I don’t know.” Likewise, the same could be said for four out of five executive positions, which are also currently undecided.
Seemingly every spring quarter when elections are held, results are delayed. These delays are directly tied to complaints made by candidates about their opponents, which the ASUCI Elections Commission must address, in turn interfering with the election results being ratified by the ASUCI Legislative Council. While the Election Commission and Legislative Council are dealing with all of this, students are lost in the shuffle by not knowing which representatives have been elected or exactly which initiatives have been passed.
In some ways, timeliness is just the tip of the iceberg as far as ASUCI elections are concerned. The real problem is how candidates choose to run their campaigns and how these complaints are issued in the first place. Whether it is an irresponsible candidate running their campaign foolishly or some presidential loser whining about how they did not win, these complaints can be avoided.
Since there is no constitutional way to keep less-than-worthy candidates out of an election, ASUCI should make the rules of how to run a campaign crystal clear. This has been worked on to some extent this year. When contacted by the New University, Kelli Chew, the ASUCI Elections Commissioner, gave an example of how the ASUCI Elections Code has been changed to make elections run smoother.
“[In the past] candidates who run for ASUCI [have] used harassment techniques against freshmen … to get extra votes, especially in the dorm areas. The new Elections Code does accommodate for that … Before, we just kind of assumed that it was unspoken, that it wouldn’t happen,” Chew said.
One person that is unquestionably familiar with the ASUCI elections process is incumbent ASUCI President Megan Braun. While Braun fully supports candidates having the right to complain, she also noted that the Elections Code has been used outside of its intended purpose.
“People have begun to see the Elections Code as a way to win the election. It’s not so much about the campaign that you run, but trying to get people disqualified on a technicality,” Braun said.
According to Chew, the Elections Code has been updated this year in order to ensure that it is used for the right reasons. For example, some items have been hammered down in the Elections Code, such as making candidates responsible for the conduct of their campaigns and prohibiting campaigning in on-campus libraries and computer labs. However, the Elections Code allows for some latitude when it comes to releasing public information about campaign expenses. This is because this data can be easily manipulated to work against a candidate when there is no human element to either justify or discount a disqualification.
“If someone didn’t declare a $2 roll of masking tape, I wouldn’t consider that a disqualifiable offense, but falsifying a financial statement … if it was somewhere around hundreds of dollars, that’s blatant falsification of your financial statement,” Chew said.
Yet, as Chew went on to state, not all candidate misconduct is as easy to measure as this. Candidates can always find new ways to get called into question for their campaigns, whether it is soliciting votes, improperly distributing promotional material or encouraging students to vote by conveniently mentioning free Lakers tickets. However, despite these variables, as students we must demand more of our student government. If we do not call into question why one referendum and four of the five ASUCI executive positions have been contested, which has lead to an election result delay, then history is doomed to repeat itself.
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