First ever ASUCD executive recall ends in failure

JESSE STESHENKO / AGGIE

Petition fails to receive necessary amount of signatures

ASUCD President Michael Gofman and Vice President Shaniah Branson will remain in office as the effort that sought to recall them failed to receive the 2,364 signatures necessary to enable a special election.

In an email sent by Mahssa Rezaei obtained by The California Aggie, the total number of signatures obtained was 85.

“There were about 85 signatures turned in for the recall of Michael Gofman and about 85 signatures turned in for the recall of Shaniah Branson and the required number of signatures for a Special Election is 2,364,” Rezaei said in the email. “Because the number of turned in signatures is far below the required signatures needed for a Special Election, the Elections Committee did not feel it was necessary to verify the student signatures. Therefore, because the required number of signatures required as per the Bylaws for a recall was not reached, there will not be a Special Election.”
Branson also shared her thoughts on the failed recall attempt.

“This truly marked the end of a quarter that I never thought would end,” Branson said. “These past 10 weeks held some of the hardest battles that I had faced in a very long time.”

According to Branson, she and Gofman were accused of being “racist, homophobic, sexist, trans-antagonistic, Zionist, conservative, etc.” Additionally, the Unite! slate which both Gofman and Branson ran on was accused of committing voter fraud.

Branson maintained that Unite! had not committed fraud and that while Gofman is a “confirmed zionist,” those were “his beliefs” and “a great portion of UCD students’ beliefs as well.” Gofman also stated that he believed his Zionist views were the true reason for the organization of the recall.

“The organizers, through their facebook page and website, claimed that this was about broken bylaws and alleged incompetence,” Gofman said via email. “However, what they have privately confirmed to many on this campus was that it was purely for political and personal reasons, stemming from the fact that as a proud Jew I’m also Pro-Israel and a proud Zionist. I’m very happy this hateful and anti-semitic recall is finally over.”

Supporters of the recall attempt expressed their disappointment over the results.

“I think the recall showed how flawed the bylaws and ASUCD are,” said former ASUCD Gender and Sexuality Commision Chair Becca Nelson, one of the main organizers of the recall effort. “The elections committee and senate basically did everything they could or sat back as far as they could to make this recall as difficult as possible.”

Nelson cited several factors that made the recall effort especially difficult, including students being at “low capacities this quarter,” the Election’s committee’s “ableism” that made it “logistically almost impossible to collect as many signatures on paper as students who vote in the elections” online and the recall effort carried out during the last few weeks of Spring Quarter.

The Elections Committee ultimately decided not to make online petitions available and restrict the collection of signatures to paper format only. Nelson said an “electronic petition would’ve made” the recall petition “much more accessible and tangible.”

ASUCD Senator Ko Ser Lu Htoo, a supporter of the recall effort, also felt that the restriction of the petition to paper form was problematic.

“By collecting signatures on paper, the possibility of an opponent of the recall putting down a fake signature to invalidate the entire petition is there,” Htoo said in a press release sent to The California Aggie. “If we want to create an elections system that is truly free and fair, then we should protect students’ right to free speech on political issues by creating a petition system that is a) accessible, b) easy to use and c) secure.”

Htoo said they supported the recall “because of the numerous reports of election fraud, collusion, and corruption that the Unite! slate was involved in during the Winter Quarter 2018 ASUCD Election.”

“Of course I wanted the recall to be successful,” Htoo’s statement read. “But unfortunately the outcome was different. Because of all the collusion and corruption that I see as a senator on the table, I question myself: “What kind of president do I want that represents all community members? Has President Gofman been transparent, as he said he will be, to the Association? Will I feel safe in this Association? Can he truly deliver the promises that he made when he was campaigning for President?”

In light of the recall failure, Gofman expressed his determination to keep working toward his goals.

“The recall was concerning,” Gofman said. “While we were never worried that it would succeed, we are glad that this process is over, and we can all continue to dedicate 100% of our mental and emotional energy, as well as time, towards the students of UC Davis, without this recall hanging in the back of our minds.”

By Clara Zhao — campus@theaggie.org