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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Editorial

    During our interviews with Associated Students of the University of Arizona candidates earlier this week, the editor in chief asked the same question of each: Do you agree with the perception among students that ASUA is a joke?

    The nearly universal response from candidates was: Of course not.

    Yet every election season, our student government turns into a comedy of errors a Hollywood screenwriter could only dream of. Minor violations of an annually-shifting elections code lead promising candidates to disqualification, while similar violations committed by nearly every sitting senator are dismissed by election commissioner Kenny Ho, who told the Daily Wildcat, “”I really don’t see it as a big deal.””

    Candidates are famously prohibited from forming tickets or campaigning jointly, leading to frequent problems coordinating the implementation of similar campaign proposals after the election ends and new senators assume their office.

    When favored propositions fail to receive enough signatures to make the ballot, the deadline for signatures mysteriously changes.

    The final straw for this board came when its members logged onto Student Link early Tuesday afternoon to cast their votes in this year’s elections, only to be confronted with this confusing ballot construction:

    “”President: Chris Nagata is a write-in candidate, if you would like to vote for him, you MUST type and spell his name as correctly in the box below for your vote to count.””

    Underneath this grammatically-conflicted paragraph appear radio buttons, next to one of which is the name of the sole presidential candidate to make the ballot, Shane Cathers. Below that, another button appears with the name of Chris Nagata, the “”write-in”” candidate, but this time a blank text entry box appears directly underneath the name. The final entry on the list is N/A, presumably meaning none of the above.

    By Tuesday evening, however, the ballot language had been changed, after votes had already been cast, removing Nagata’s name from the instructions but maintaining the confusing ballot arrangement. We can think of no precedent for this action, however flawed the original language may have been. Furthermore, the changes made fail to correct the fundamental problems with the original version.

    We should note that, based on extended interviews with both candidates, our recommendation for president was write-in candidate Nagata. Despite our support for him, we’re incensed that his candidacy would be handled so poorly by whoever was responsible for drafting the ballot, presumably election commissioner Ho.

    Given that the signatures he collected were, in the judgment of the elections commissioner, inadequate to get him on the ballot, Nagata’s name should not appear. The construction of this year’s ballot implies an unacceptable bias in favor of Nagata on the part of current ASUA leadership.

    Examining the ballot from another angle, it is almost certain that a number of students will fail to read the poorly-worded instructions, click the button next to Nagata’s name, and move on down the ballot, confident that they have cast their vote for president. According to our reading of the instructions, this would mean that their vote would not be counted, but given the history of ASUA elections, who is to say that the rules won’t be revised again if the elections commissioner is unhappy with the result?

    Those involved with ASUA constantly argue that the organization is relevant to today’s students, and in all fairness, many of their actions have an impact on our lives. However, these student leaders are being paid for their service and serve in our name, and as students we must demand that their selection is fair, clear and open. Of all of the campus organizations with which we are familiar, none has election procedures as Byzantine and corrupt as those of our student government.

    The root of these continuing problems can only be that elections are entrusted to an all-powerful elections commissioner, with absolute discretion over not only the conduct of the election itself, but also the very code that governs the election and his own position,

    Given the gross malfeasance that has characterized this election, we call for an immediate end to balloting, and for the scheduling of a special election to take its place, to be held under new supervision.

    Further, we call on the ASUA Senate to immediately undertake the enactment of an amendment to the ASUA Constitution placing the elections code under the direct supervision of the senate, and for the enactment of a new code after adequate input from the student body.

    With all of the very real and tragic possibilities on the horizon for this university and its student body, it is time to put an end to this annual farce, lest our government truly become irrelevant.

    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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