Scheduling delays, technical malfunctions pose rocky start for this round of elections
ASUCD finds itself without an elections committee chair and without any members of the elections committee — with 2019 Fall Quarter Senate elections just around the corner, the association is scrambling to prepare. The elections committee chair oversees elections preparation and helps candidates navigate the campaigning process; the former elections committee chair resigned from the position. Currently, Vice President Shreya Deshpande is taking on the role of overseeing elections.
So far this election cycle, petitions were released a week late due to website technical issues. ASUCD President Justin Hurst spoke about the circumstances that led to this situation.
“The chair is to be appointed by the Judicial Council chair at the end of Spring Quarter for the following academic year,” Hurst said. “Our previous Chair either did not do this, or failed to inform the Senate if he did.”
Former Elections Chair Rodney Tompkins unexpectedly submitted a resignation at the beginning of October. There was a student applicant Hurst hoped to confirm at the Oct. 24 Senate meeting, but that student withdrew their application at the last minute. Both of these unexpected circumstances have left ASUCD without a chair or a committee for the upcoming elections.
“This is definitely not common practice, but there have been extenuating circumstances this time around,” Hurst said.
During the Oct. 24 Senate meeting, senators voted to postpone elections by another week. The following week, during the Oct. 31 Senate meeting, senators introduced legislation to create a one-time Elections Committee for the upcoming election. The committee would consist of ex-officio members of the Senate.
“Logistically, we just need an Elections Committee for an election to run, in terms of logistics, for workshops, we just need one,” said Ashely Lo, Internal Affairs Commission chair and author of Senate Bill #10.
Senator Shondreya Landrum commented on the executive team’s work behind the scenes in trying to fill the position of Elections Committee Chair, saying “this is not their jobs, they have taken steps to diligently rectify this and as you can see there’s a bill in front of you now.”
Controller Kevin Rotenkolber allotted the emergency committee half of the budget set aside for the Elections Committee.
There has not been any traditional outreach efforts, however, for this campaign cycle and members of the public raised concerns about how this will impact the demographics of students who choose to run.
Although petitions for elections have been moved back, according to the ASUCD Constitution, voting must take place during the week of Nov. 11. That date has remained firm despite setbacks.
There was also a delay in the candidate application process. Due to website technical difficulties, prospective applicants were unable to submit their petitions. The website is now functional and candidates had until Nov. 1 to submit their petitions.
Jenna DiCarlo, a second-year international relations and history double major, is running for senate on the Thrive slate. Without oversight from ASUCD, students running for Senate are left looking to fellow slate members for guidance, she said.
“My main points of contact are probably the senior members of the slate,” DiCarlo said. “I haven’t had direction from ASUCD, but I’m getting advice from my friends on Thrive and people who have previously worked in ASUCD.”
Without an Elections Chair, ASUCD has relied on Creative Media’s efforts to advertise the election and encourage students to consider running as well as word of mouth.
As of the time of publication, 21 students have petitioned to run for six open Senate seats, according to ASUCD’s elections website. At least a few of the petitions appear to be joke petitions submitted under fake names including “Gunrock the Aggie,” “McLovin” and “No Boots.” Students hoping to run must be undergraduates in good academic standing, have completed at least 60 units of University credit and must obtain 125 signatures on their petitions.
Another issue that has arisen concerned the mandatory candidate workshop falling on Día de los Muertos. After a candidate raised concerns about this, the Elections Committee offered an alternative online workshop offered to candidates, to be completed at a later date.
Additionally, despite past discussions about eliminating Senate slates, students planning to run this fall will have the option to join UC Davis’ version of different political parties. Slates are, “any group of candidates and/or Tickets who run together under a common name or common slogan,” according to the ASUCD Bylaws.
In the past, slates have been accused of causing division among senators and the student body. Slates have previously created so much internal division that previous senators have cited them as the reason that led to their early resignations. Former Senator Danny Halawi referenced his frustration with the Unite! slate when discussing his decision to resign in an Aggie article. During the 2018-19 school year, three senators elected last Fall Quarter resigned before terming out.
Currently, the slates BASED and Unite! are represented in the Senate. In addition to the two currently active BASED and Thrive slates, students have the choice to run independently. There is currently no information available about different ASUCD slates on the ASUCD website.
Student petitions to run closed on Nov. 1 and the mandatory candidate workshop took place on Nov. 2. Voting will begin during Week 7 on Nov. 12 and votes will be counted on Nov. 15.
Written by: Ally Russell — email@example.com