Though the uncontested results of ASUCI’s spring elections were slated to be released last week, the announcement of winners is still pending based on ASUCI Senate’s failure to ratify the elections process. During both Senate meetings last week, several senators walked out after raising concerns that the election was “unfair,” based on a stipulation that allows candidates who head their own campus clubs to effectively endorse themselves or other candidates.
At the center of the debate, ASUCI at-large senator Jeanine Erikat recalled during Thursday’s meeting that last year, when she ran for her Senate position, she was “explicitly told” by the Elections Commission that “no candidate who’s running can sign off on endorsements for themselves or other candidates.” However, Erikat said she noticed while looking through club endorsements this year that several were signed by a candidate themselves, for their own slate or “for their friends.”
Sui Feng Xu, a candidate for president, endorsed several candidates on behalf of the ICS Student Council. Sanjanaa Ellur, a candidate for internal vice president, endorsed candidates on behalf of the South Asian Student Union. And Sergio Cervantes, a candidate for at-large senator, endorsed the EEE slate on behalf of Mesa Unida.
Elections Commissioner Georgina Danial noted that Elections Code does not specifically prohibit a candidate signing endorsements on behalf of their own club.
“The only stipulation in the Elections Code is that [the endorser] has to be an authorized signer [for their club],” said Danial. “The code does not explicitly state that the signer cannot be a candidate.”
Senator Erikat argued that even if this practice isn’t specifically prohibited by the Elections Code, it amounted to “collusion” and that “logically,” it should be considered unfair. She pointed out that if she “wanted to start five clubs” and endorse herself with all of them, it would be within Elections Code.
Current Senate president Gurneel Boparai, a candidate for ASUCI president, agreed that the practice was “unfair,” and that even if it isn’t prohibited by the ASUCI Elections Code, it constituted a potential violation of California election policy and should therefore not be allowed.
Danial told senators that they could consider changing the bylaws for next year, but that the deadline to submit complaints for this election cycle had already passed, and that the ratification of elections needed to go forward in a timely manner.
Instead of proceeding to vote on ratification on Thursday, four senators walked out of the room, breaking quorum and forestalling a vote.
While senators and cabinet members remained split on the issue, some emphasized the need to release elections results soon, since the ASUCI Elections Code stipulates that all results must be released by 5 p.m. on Tuesday of week five.
“There has to be deadlines in order to follow the process,” said internal vice president Brittany Nguyen. “Everyone had a fair chance to submit the complaint form. Senators’ job is to ratify this election, and if you wanted to submit a complaint, you had a fair chance … now, we need to move forward with [announcing the results].”
Senate will convene again at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 1 in Woods Cove BC. Elections results must be posted outside the ASUCI office by the time the meeting convenes.