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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    EDITORIAL: Flawed ASUA election codes require serious rewrite

    Editor’s note: An earlier online version of this editorial stated that none of the executive vice president candidates fulfilled requirements to run in the primary election. The editorial should have said “general election.” The editorial has been corrected.

    There are “definitely a lot of loopholes” in ASUA elections, ASUA Sen. Bryan Namba told the Daily Wildcat earlier this week.

    That’s an understatement.

    This campaign season has seen mass emails from presidential candidate Dylan Duniho.

    There have been anonymous emails to the Daily Wildcat about text messages offering fraternity members alcohol in exchange for campaign support.

    There have been Facebook messages about “library hopping” to boost votes, a practice linked to presidential candidate Morgan Abraham (though he denies involvement).

    None of the executive vice president candidates successfully fulfilled the requirements to run in the general election, and some officials have challenged the legitimacy of their campaigns.

    You may be wondering why no candidate has been disqualified. The reason? A vaguely worded elections code.

    The elections code was rewritten in 2011, after controversy over — you guessed it — allegations of inappropriate campaigning levied against the candidates at the time, James Allen and Daniel Hernandez Jr.

    Before the rewrite, candidates were offered up to 10 “checks.” Candidates who reached 10 would be disqualified.

    However, elections now operate on a three-strike system.

    The only way a candidate can get a strike is if they violate a campaign rule explicitly laid out in the elections code (the word “library” is not used once in the code).

    If violations aren’t specifically addressed by the code, discretionary action can be taken by the elections commissioner.

    Since most violations aren’t specified by the code — like all of the violations this semester — a lot of warnings are issued.

    That’s not how a three-strike system works. The whole point of a three-strike system is that your first two strikes are your warnings.

    It’s also not very difficult for a candidate to violate a rule a second time. An inconsequential warning would be a small price to pay for the number of votes you could get roaming through the library and approaching students about your campaign.

    There’s a reason that we see the same violations every year. Candidates will do whatever it takes to ensure they are elected. It’s up to the elections code, however, to hold candidates to a higher ethical standard.

    Since accusations began making headlines, several ASUA officials, including Elections Commissioner Leo Oppenheimer, have acknowledged that the elections code is flawed.

    “I think there needs to be a lot that needs to be looked at to be changed,” Oppenheimer said.

    But the elections code is written by ASUA, and the loopholes exist because ASUA officials left them there.

    The root of the problem is that it’s impossible to meaningfully address inappropriate campaigning because of vague wording and even complete omissions in the code.

    Luckily, it wouldn’t be too hard to rid the elections code of those loopholes. All ASUA would need to do is write out definitions of the unethical things that go on during campaigns. Once these definitions have been specifically established, it would be easy for an elections commissioner to judge whether or not a candidate is acting in violation of them.

    Every election is the same: The candidates disregard ethics and quietly ignore the rules, hoping that no one will point it out. But even when they get caught, there aren’t any consequences.

    The only way to have fair, legitimate elections in the future is to tighten the elections code, and to take serious action when that code is broken.

    Continuing to run elections under a flawed elections code only enables candidates to walk all over the elections commissioner — and the voters.

    — Editorials are determined by the Arizona Daily Wildcat’s editorial board and written by one of its members. They are Kristina Bui, Dan Desrochers, Casey Lewandrowski, K.C. Libman and Sarah Precup. They can be reached at or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.

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