The ASUCD Court unanimously dismissed a complaint questioning the fairness of winter quarter’s ASUCD elections during a pre-hearing on Wednesday.
Case 46, between plaintiff Chris Ambriz and the ASUCD Elections Committee, centered on a voting malfunction in which the website went down for three and half hours during the election. The Elections Committee extended the voting period by an equal amount of time on Feb. 20, the last day of the election.
Ambriz, a senior political science major, alleged that student voters were disenfranchised as a result of malfunctions. He cited the ASUCD Constitution’s Bill of Rights Section Six, which specifically concerns voter disenfranchisement during elections.
“It is not the student’s fault, but the fault of the elections committee,” Ambriz said during the hearing.
The pre-hearing occurred in the Memorial Union Mee Room at 9 p.m., where the ASUCD Court heard the arguments of both Ambriz and the Elections Committee led by Adam Thongsavat, elections committee chair and senior political science and history major.
The initial pre-hearing, held a week earlier, could not be used to make a decision regarding the case due to the failure of the recorder being used to document the proceedings.
Matthew Shannon, former director of the University Affairs Office, joined Thongsavat in presenting the arguments for the defense.
“The elections committee did the best they could,” Shannon said in regards to the initial incident that led to the filing of the court case. “But we have a solid body of evidence against Ambriz.“
The defense acknowledged that the malfunction was unfortunate, but argued that students had ample opportunity to vote at other times following the incident and that the allegations brought before them were without merit.
Ambriz countered that during the period in which the voting website was down, no time was specified for when potential voters could return to attempt to resubmit their ballot. He also argued that nothing was physically put on campus or online in addition to the website that directly communicated the situation to the students.
After both sides had spoken, the ASUCD Court, headed by Chief Justice Missy Whitney, a junior biotechnology major, left the room to deliberate regarding whether or not the case should be advanced to a full hearing. At approximately 10:47 p.m., they returned to announce that the case was dismissed on all counts.
A similar incident at the University of California at Berkeley occurred regarding the malfunction of a voting website which led to sweeping reforms of their Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) electoral process in Oct. 2000. As a result, students at UC Berkeley are only able to vote at special campus polling places on designated computers.
While this has caused its own slew of legal backlashes for ASUCD in terms of equal opportunities to vote by Education Abroad Program students who would not have access to the polls while out of the country; its creation was in response to issues that mirror those that took place during the UC Davis winter elections.
While members of ASUCD have not suggested any procedural electoral changes, there have been several bills passed to further clarify the bylaws to avoid future complaints.
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