Photo Credits: SHEREEN LEE / AGGIE FILE
Early voters’ anonymity compromised as Elections Committee emails students directly, asking for their votes on four ballot measures
The ASUCD elections website failed to show the entire ballot for the first voters in this Fall Quarter’s elections early Tuesday morning on Nov. 12. Called a “procedural oversight” according to an email sent by the Elections Committee to The California Aggie, the webpage failed to display proposed ASUCD constitutional amendments. Voters were able to cast their ballots for prospective senators without complications.
Following what has already been an election season with significant setbacks, including the absence of an elections chair or elections committee, this most recent misstep has compromised student voters’ anonymity and has the potential to significantly impact the outcome of the election.
In response to this malfunction, the Elections Committee’s emails to individuals affected asked them to respond with their decisions on the four proposed constitutional revisions via email. Asking students to vote via email contradicts the ASUCD Bylaws, which state, “Members of ASUCD can only cast their ballot on the official ASUCD Elections website.” The bylaws also state that any ballot measure “will be listed before the candidate listings.”
Students impacted also had the ability to go back onto the original elections website and vote for constitutional amendments once the option was added later in the day. If a voter were to vote both via email and online, they would have potentially been able to vote on each constitutional amendment twice. Further, the decision to contact voters gives the Elections Committee explicit knowledge of some voters’ ballot choices, eliminating the integrity of what should have been secret ballots.
“The Elections Committee and its members are committed to being impartial administrators of the ASUCD Elections, which includes safeguarding the security and integrity of each and every student’s vote,” said a statement from the Elections Committee via email. “To ensure maximum security all returned votes will not be opened until the day after the end of the elections, when the Elections Committee oversees tabulations.”
Beyond the anonymity of affected students’ votes on these ballot measures being compromised, this glitch has the potential to impact the outcome of the election.
Among the four proposed constitutional amendments, Constitutional Amendment #62 would create a Worker-Student Commission (WSSC). The vote on this amendment comes less than a week after student workers staged a walk-out over UCPath’s failure to deliver payments on time and also coincides with the sixth strike in recent memory organized by the AFSCME Local 3299 union over alleged unfair labor practices by the UC.
Constitutional Amendment #59 would change Winter Quarter ASUCD elections to Spring Quarter.
In order to impose more constitutionally-established checks on ASUCD elected officials, Constitutional Amendment #61 would introduce the process of impeachment and removal of elected officials from office to the constitutional framework in the case of gross misconduct or inability to perform an elected role.
Constitutional Amendment #60 would reform the structure of the Judicial Branch of ASUCD, which amendment authors hope would allow the Judicial Council to serve as both a greater check on ASUCD and give the ASUCD Bylaws more authority.
Ko Ser Lu Htoo, a third-year political science and international relations double major and chair of the BASED party, weighed in on the progression of this elections period.
Recognizing ex-officio members of the ASUCD Senate jumping into the roles of Elections Committee members at the last minute, Htoo was understanding about the many challenges this quarter’s elections have troubled through.
“These are the duties of the Elections Committee and we can say they’ve failed to do that, but this is the first time they picked up a role they didn’t even ask for,” Htoo said. “It’s imperative that we understand they are doing the best they can and they worked really hard for the past week making sure the elections go forward.”
With historically low voter turnout during ASUCD elections coupled with a lack of advertising of this quarter’s elections, this additional glitch has potentially excluded a number of early voters from exercising their right to vote on the proposed amendments and may play a role in whether or not they pass.
Written by: Ally Russell — firstname.lastname@example.org