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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    ASUA revises ballot during election

    Voters logging on to the student government’s Web site after yesterday afternoon to vote for the ASUA General Elections experienced something earlier voters had not – a changed ballot.

    Shortly after a complaint by Presidential Candidate Shane Cathers to the ASUA Elections Commission, the wording under the area marked off for the presidential candidates was changed to make it more fair and unbiased, said Kenny Ho, Associated Students of the University of Arizona elections commissioner.

    Heading into the early part of opening day for elections, above the candidates’ names was the following description: “”Chris Nagata is a write-in candidate, if you would like to vote for him, you MUST type and spell his name correctly in the box below for your vote to count.””

    Following Cathers’ complaint, the phrasing was changed to exclude Nagata’s name, in favor of “”a write-in candidate.””

    Cathers was originally concerned that explicit directions on how to vote for Nagata was possibly biased and unfair, since Nagata has been involved in ASUA for several years, he said.

    “”I felt like something like this would occur,”” Cathers said. “”This has actually been a worry of mine in this position that I am in – that there definitely could be a bias (toward Nagata).””

    Cathers was not only unnerved that Nagata’s name appeared on the voting instructions, he also did not believe that Nagata, a write-in candidate, should have his name even appear on the ballot.

    On the ballot, Nagata’s name appears under Cathers, with a button next to each and a write-in box under the candidates’ names for voters to manually transcribe Nagata’s name into the box.

    Ho said that it is protocol for a write-in candidate’s name to appear on the ballot, and that the Elections Code only states that a blank should be provided for a write-in candidate – not that the name should be absent altogether.

    “”It is a touchy issue,”” Ho said. “”But we wanted to make sure that both candidates were fairly treated in the ballot.””

    The change was not welcomed by both candidates, though, because Nagata’s campaign may be hurt by the lack of explicit directions on how to vote for the write-in candidate, Nagata said.

    As it stands, students could feasibly click on the button next to Nagata’s name without writing it in the write-in box, thus rendering their vote for Nagata moot.

    “”Yeah, it’s shitty,”” Nagata said. “”If (the directions were) biased and unfair, I don’t know why it showed up like that in the first place.””

    It was not originally clear to the Elections Commission that the wording could be construed as biased, but now that the concerns have been brought to the organization’s attention, they believe they have done the right thing in changing the ballot, Ho said.

    “”We wanted it to be very generic,”” he said. “”We didn’t want it to sound like we were supporting any candidates.””

    Ho said he does not think Nagata’s election results will be hurt by the change, since directions on how to vote for a write-in candidate are still on the ballot.

    “”I don’t feel that there’s a concern, just because the directions are explicitly stated – that you must type a name, and you must type in (Nagata’s) name correctly,”” Ho said.

    Ho also does not find it troubling that since the change was made in the middle of an election, different voters are looking at different ballots, he said.

    “”I feel as if, when people are voting, especially for the office of president, a lot of them have decided already what they would like to vote for,”” Ho said. “”And so we just wanted to clear up the directions.””

    Before the change to the ballot, Cathers said that if he ended up losing the presidency by a small margin, “”it would definitely be something that would discourage me of the ASUA’s position of what democracy is supposed to stand for.””

    After Ho decided that changing the ballot would be the best course of action, the alteration had to be approved by ASUA President Tommy Bruce.

    Bruce said he spoke with both candidates before the change appeared on the ballot.

    Nagata became a write-in candidate after many of the 500 petitioned signatures on his required candidacy paperwork were scratched from the list because of duplicates and illegible signatures. He did, however, secure the 400 signatures needed to obtain his status as a write-in candidate.

    “”I don’t want to be cynical,”” Cathers said. “”But it’s pretty obvious that this point is something that needs to be further looked into.””

    Today is the last day to vote in the ASUA General Elections.

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