Photo Credits: CAITLYN SAMPLEY / AGGIE
Special election announced with only one-day notice
This week, ASUCD gave students a one-day notice that a special election would be held today through Thursday, after an election held two weeks ago was afflicted by a number of issues, including voter disenfranchisement. But in this attempt to correct that issue, ASUCD has failed to appropriately notify the student body in a timely manner that an election will be held — disenfranchising more voters than the previous election and violating the ASUCD Bylaws. The Bylaws, which require that a special election be publicized three days after its approval, seem to have been disregarded — the Editorial Board only became aware of the election on Sunday evening, just two days before the election was set to take place.
In its effort to resolve allegations of voter disenfranchisement, the ASUCD Executive Office and Senate amended the Bylaws to allow the Senate to convene a special election for a constitutional amendment. Previously, this had to be done by collecting the signatures of 8% of the student body. Additionally, the Constitution mandates that “Legislation to amend any ASUCD Elections Regulations must be signed by the ASUCD President or somehow otherwise enacted no less than four (4) weeks before the first election it will affect.” By changing the Bylaws in a political process to allow for a special election that otherwise couldn’t happen, ASUCD is facing a Constitutional crisis, the likes of which the members of the Editorial Board have never seen before.
The election will allow students to vote on Constitutional Amendment #63, CA #64 and CA #65 — all of which were overwhelmingly rejected by voters during the general Fall Elections. These measures were not on the ballot for the earliest voters on the first day of voting, however, due to what the Emergency Elections Committee called a “technical error.” As mandated by the ASUCD elections code, students must have 72 hours to cast their vote during a general election. But this special election brings up a whole host of other issues, the first being a violation of the rules on holding special elections. While ASUCD may have amended the Bylaws in order to hold this election, it did so in violation of the ASUCD Constitution.
The ASUCD Bylaws mandate that the ASUCD Elections Committee notify the student body about a special election “no later than three days” after a special election is approved. There is no legal way in which a special election can be held this quarter. In an attempt to seemingly maneuver around elections rules, the Senate amended the Bylaws to allow for a special election less than two weeks after approving changes to the elections code — a direct violation of the Constitution.
ASUCD’s laws and codes regarding election rules are not trivial. They were explicitly codified in order to protect students from the issue of voter disenfranchisement by requiring that ASUCD appropriately inform the students it represents of their right to vote in a timely manner. Giving students a one-day notice undermines the alleged objective of preventing voter disenfranchisement. With an abysmal voter turnout of under 7% in the last election — and the lack of notice regarding this special election — we, the Editorial Board, seriously doubt a significant portion of the student body will be made aware of the election for turnout to increase.
Further cause for alarm comes from the fact that the identities of those on the Elections Committee are not public, despite the Constitution mandating this information be made publicly accessible. The total lack of transparency in this process, in conjunction with the constitutional violations that allowed for this election, means that those who should be held accountable are not going to be.
Also at issue are accusations waged against ASUCD officials concerning the manipulation of the Bylaws to promote personal agendas. CA #63 would move Winter Quarter elections to spring with a clause allowing for current officials to extend their term by one quarter.
“ASUCD officials have no personal vested [interest] in extending their terms,” ASUCD President Justin Hurst said in response to these allegations. The unconstitutional Bylaws that allowed for a second vote on an already failed measure that would extend senators’ term limits is incidental, not an attempt at personal gain. Even so, current senators still benefit, making this an arbitrary distinction.
After an election muddled by mismanagement and riddled with allegations of manipulation, we could only hope that ASUCD officials would have learned from that experience moving forward. They clearly haven’t. It is disheartening that many of these officials were elected on platforms of increasing transparency within ASUCD. It’s high time that they stop ignoring the promises they made when we, as students, elected them. Instead of devoting time and energy to petty Facebook comment wars, it’s time to return legitimacy to our student government.
Written by: The Editorial Board