With ASUCD elections approaching next week, student Daniel Golden has filed a court appeal against the ASUCD Elections Committee that will challenge the validity of presidential candidates Sergio Blanco and Vishakha Patel.
Blanco and Patel, currently running on an independent ticket, were granted a 24-hour extension past the original deadline to acquire the full 250 signatures needed to apply for candidacy. According to ASUCD records, after originally submitting more than the full number signatures by deadline, the elections committee found only 231 of the signatures to be valid – leaving the candidates 19 signatures short of the required amount.
“When you collect signatures from people, you have to assume they’re good,” Blanco said. “When you ask someone for their ID number you don’t know if it’s correct; you assume that it is.”
At the first elections meeting, all candidates were provided with a packet, which outlined ASUCD election bylaws. Elections Committee Chair Nick Sidney also informed the candidates of the 24-hour extension policy.
After submitting the additional signatures as stated within the 24-hour period, Blanco and Patel were granted a certificate of candidacy, and recognized by the committee as President and Vice President candidates for the winter 2010 ASUCD election.
Golden, a sophomore animal science major, has no direct affiliation with ASUCD but was made aware of this case through his housemate, ASUCD Associate Justice Ryan Meyerhoff.
In his original complaint, Golden states that the executive ticket did not have the number of required petitions at the due date. He added that because the authority to grant an extension is not explicitly written in ASUCD bylaws, the Elections Committee “illegally” granted Blanco and Patel the additional amount of time to acquire signatures.
“They shouldn’t be given a 24-hour extension, because the ASUCD bylaws state that the elections committee only has the power explicitly given to them, and this extension isn’t specifically included,” Golden said. “If ASUCD would like to add a specific bylaw that allows the Election Committee to grant extensions I’m fine with that – but speaking as a concerned student, [I] don’t want to see people taking advantage of the system.”
Speaking in defense of the Elections Committee, Chair Nick Sidney recognized Golden’s right to challenge ASUCD’s actions, but stands by the committee’s authority to allow Blanco and Patel to run.
“Part of the reason I support the extension is because anyone that picked up a packet was notified of that policy in advance, and we laid it out in fall quarter, and no one challenged it when the policy was announced – only after we acted on the policy,” he said. “Also, we did act on this policy in fall quarter, and no one challenged it then.”
The trial will take place Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., and the outcome will determine whether Blanco and Patel will be placed on the executive ticket alongside L.E.A.D. candidates Jack Zwald and Previn Witana, and independent candidates Greg Webb and Jessica Martin. The case will be overseen by six Court Justices – excluding Ryan Meyerhoff, who withdrew from the case due to his association with Golden.
Elections will be held Feb. 17 through 19. Voters will cast their votes through the elections website, which opens the morning of Feb. 17.
MICHELLE IMMEL can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.