Mailbag: Dec. 5

Daily Wildcat

ASUA Senate let students down

On Nov. 29, the ASUA Senate took an unfortunate 8-2 vote to approve the ASUA Elections Code drafted by Commissioner Mikindra Morin. Although several senators did make good, substantive changes to the code, we’re still left with something less then satisfactory. The senate settled for mediocre when they should have advocated for outstanding.

Admittedly, we came off a crazy election year where no one could really straighten anything out, and it became obvious our elections code needed cleaning up. However, instead of what had been promised, the senate was given an elections code almost unedited, minus sweeping changes to the power of the commissioner.

With the new conduct process in the 2012 code, the commissioner no longer has much discretionary power, and candidates have much more ability to violate the code without any substantive punishment.

For many of the problems faced in the 2011 elections, the commissioner chose to not solve the problem, but rather go around it. Nothing was changed with the language of certain violations, nothing made more specific and no standard of evidence imposed. Instead, the commissioner took power away from her position, and made it nearly impossible for candidates to get disqualified. That sure solves the problems of disqualification and messy ASUA Supreme Court cases. However, does it solve the problem of badly written violations? Does it keep candidates from violating the code? Does it adequately punish candidates who are found to have violated the code? Does it provide for free and fair elections? Does it give voters the confidence in their elections or their newly elected officials? The simple answer is no.

The elections commissioner is supposed to have the power to disqualify candidates, and make them shake in their boots. I was not immune to the craziness of last year’s elections, nor was I separate from it — I still understand the need for an elections commissioner with power, for they are charged with protecting the electorate from run-away candidates. The commissioner acted appropriately last year when reigning in both presidential candidates with disqualification, and if circumstances were repeated I would support such efforts.

At this point in time, the elections code and elections commissioner are more important than the senate, the vice presidents and the president of ASUA. As a student government, we’re trying to re-establish confidence in our elections process and our right to serve. This code and its drafter do nothing to instill such confidence in the students of the University of Arizona. At this point in time, we should be committed to reforming our elections so that they work for everybody, not giving free passes to candidates. We should be putting in the hard work to make a good elections code, not just passing a weak compromise to avoid arguing it at the last senate meeting of the semester.

This vote reflects a disregard for the constituents the senate was elected to represent and a major change in the layout of our next elections. I condemn this vote and the newly instated code as one of the two dissenting senators. We can do better, and we should do better.

ASUA Sen. Erik Lundstrom