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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Editorial: ASUA elections reveal flawed Elections Code

The interesting thing about the Associated Students of the University of Arizona is how completely uninteresting they are. Most people just don’t care.

It took a candidate who, weeks prior to the announcement of his campaign run, was thrust into the national spotlight and hailed as the country’s hero to get people to pay attention. And after that, it took a lot of gossip to get people to care about why he and the other candidate for ASUA president were disqualified.

Now that all the speculative rumors have been put to rest, and everyone can rest assured that neither Daniel Hernandez nor James Allen were buying their votes, it’s debatable whether or not anyone cares more about what ASUA is up to. Still, as the details of ASUA’s presidential elections are finally revealed (nearly three weeks after they should have been), the organization’s answers only seem to inspire a lot more questions.

Some questions are pretty simple: How could Hernandez not know that the “”Learn Without Concern”” gun forum event was, in part, sponsored by ASUA, and therefore he shouldn’t wear a campaign shirt to it? Answer: He must have known, and if not, that’s just weird.

Other questions are more complicated: How does the ASUA elections commissioner fairly determine the number of “”violation checks”” given for each Elections Code violation?

According to ASUA’s violation guide, “”in order to assure fair and consistent decisions issued by the elections commission, candidates will be issued checks depending on the severity of their violation.””

One check is applied for each section of the Elections Code violated if the violation disrupts the election or gives an advantage to a particular candidate. One is applied for “”blatant disregard of the Elections Code or authority of the commission.”” One for malice toward another candidate’s campaign. One for intentional or deliberate violation of the code or authority of the commission. One for violations that “”prove to be severely or obviously advantageous.””

Thus, more than one violation check can be given for a single violation, and these checks accumulate throughout the course of the election process.

The lesson: Don’t piss off the elections commissioner or your one violation could have five checks for extra, super bad severity.

Consequences vary, beginning with a warning and proceeding to fines or a loss of campaign materials, all the way up to disqualification. But take the Ponton brothers, for example. Bryan and Brett Ponton each received 10 violation checks, but the elections commission chose not to uphold one, resulting in nine checks for each of them and seats as administrative and executive vice-presidents. That’s integrity for you.

Furthermore, the violations and corresponding checks are generally based on weak evidence. At the very least, how reliable is “”witness testimony”” of spotting things like Team Mauve gluing posters to cars in the Tyndall Avenue Parking Garage? When a complaint form claims Hernandez was wearing a “”Vote Team Red”” T-shirt to an ASUA-sponsored event, and includes a screenshot of ASUA’s website with an advertisement for the event circled, does that really qualify as evidence?

According to the Elections Code, “”the elections commissioner shall issue final interpretation of this code unless the decision is appealed.”” The commission also “”shall have the discretion as to whether to levy a violation and subsequent penalties in the form of warnings, fines, loss of campaign rights, and/or disqualifications.”” And code violations are assessed by the commission, “”all under the discretion of the elections commission.””

Without the intrigue of far-fetched rumors, students care less about ASUA’s elections process and the candidates. But Hernandez’s and Allen’s disqualifications should serve as an eye-opener. Ah, democracy.

— Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat editorial board and written by one of its members. They are Kristina Bui, Ken Contrata, Michelle A. Monroe and Heather Price-Wright. They can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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