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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Editorial: ASUA undermined its own legitimacy

    In the real world, it’s called election fraud. At the UA, it’s just business as usual.

    The Associated Students of the University of Arizona must have heaved one collective sigh of relief when their two-day elections were immediately followed by spring break. Surely a long, leisurely week away from campus would be more than enough to dispel the unanswered questions and concerns that still lingered in the air.

    But it will take more than a week to do that. Only taking those concerns seriously and taking steps to address them will assuage our growing suspicion that ASUA has given up its right to be recognized as legitimate representatives of the student body.

    As the Daily Wildcat editorial board noted on March 11, the presidential ballot was presented in such a confusing way that it seemed entirely likely that many students would inadvertently vote for the wrong candidate. Compounding the confusion, the ballot was altered in the middle of the election, raising the question of whether the entire election ought to be scrapped and done over again. After all, if a ballot were altered halfway through a congressional election, there’d be hell to pay.

    We raised that question, but ASUA chose not to acknowledge it. ASUA President Tommy Bruce was dismissive of our concerns, and waved away our call for a new election. This may seem like a minor matter. But it is not.

    The fundamental legitimacy of this university’s student government has been called into question by the sloppy and careless way in which the election was handled. Those students who are apathetic to ASUA ð-ÿthe majority, in other words -ÿhave just been handed an extra reason not to care. We think that’s a real problem.

    In truth, every ASUA election gives students a new reason not to care. Let’s review one of the worst examples in memory.

    Back in March 2006, Rhonda Tubbs, a candidate for executive vice president, was disqualified for a couple of minor elections code violations. These violations, apparently, included a friend’s posting “”Vote Rhonda Tubbs”” on an AOL Instant Messenger profile.

    A sign of a diligent elections commission? No, the mark of a code applied with ridiculous inconsistency. As the Wildcat reported Feb. 18, almost all of this year’s candidates violated the elections code by leaving their campaign materials up past the permitted date. Candidates wearing their own campaign shirts were spotted at Senate meetings. We saw no repercussions, and we doubt we will.

    As a result of Tubbs’ disqualification, David Reece (whom Tubbs had resoundingly trounced in the primaries) was elected to the office. Reece proved to be such an embarrassment to ASUA that future president Tommy Bruce told the Wildcat he was “”thrilled”” when the ill-fated executive vice president resigned in February 2007. That comment itself was a mark of the petty, personal air that has come to surround our student government -ÿas if it consisted primarily to gratify the aspirations of rivaling egos.

    We take ASUA seriously, and we think they do too. That’s why we believe they were wrong to dismiss our concerns about this election. The feckless attitude of the elections commission has cast a shadow of doubt on the entire electoral process, and if ASUA doesn’t take steps to ensure that similar shenanigans don’t happen in the future, they’re liable to accomplish the exact opposite of “”getting the word out”” about all the good things they do -ÿsomething most of the candidates emphasized when we interviewed them.

    You don’t get power – even the relatively paltry amount of power wielded by ASUA members – without some degree of responsibility, and if our student government doesn’t ensure that future elections are free of the cloud of uncertainty that hung over this one, they haven’t only surrendered that responsibility. They’ve given up any right to be taken seriously.

    Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Justyn Dillingham, Laura Donovan, Taylor Kessinger, Heather Price-Wright, and Nickolas Seibel.

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