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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ASUA elections: easier to violate

    ASUA not only makes the rules when it comes to student government elections, it breaks them and then it changes them.

    Last year, the Associated Students of the University of Arizona made news when two candidates vying for the presidential seat were both disqualified for committing too many campaign violations. Although James Allen, now ASUA president, appealed his violations and got them under the threshold for candidacy, then-Elections Commissioner Michael Colletti disqualified him and called a special election.

    After the special election, Allen won again and was named president. He then promised to reform the ASUA Elections Code. During its meeting on Wednesday, the ASUA Senate discussed the working draft of this year’s code.

    In addition to doing away with the 10 “checks” system in favor of a “three strikes” system, along with other tweaks, the code completely neuters the elections commissioner. Under the proposed elections code, all discretion is removed from the elections commissioner. Chapter 1 has omitted the power of the commissioner to just dole out a “strike” or “check” for a violation. Instead, a candidate must first be given a warning for his or her violation. He or she receives a strike only after violating a specific rule twice.

    Furthermore, according to Chapter 9, section 1.02, as long as an action that resulted in a violation can be and is corrected within 24 hours, no strikes will be handed out. This becomes a “correction.” The code continues to state, “Multiple correctable actions pertaining to the same violation shall not result in a strike, but will result in another 24-hour window.”

    In other words, don’t break any rule more than once. But if you do, just make sure it’s something that you can fix in a day’s time. Once you’ve fixed it and made everything nice again, go ahead and break the rule again. Don’t worry, you won’t be punished, you can correct it tomorrow. Basically, just abuse the elections code, and fix it really quick. Rinse and repeat.

    Under the old code, such blatant abuse would be punishable at the discretion of the elections commissioner. If someone were to show a heinous disregard for the rules and exploit an obvious and loose loophole like this, there would be someone who could step in and enforce some sort of punishment, right? Wrong.

    Thanks to the proposed changes, the elections commissioner can’t make any judgment calls like that, a point that was raised by ASUA Sen. Erik Lundstrom at the senate meeting.

    Lundstrom stressed the need for some power to dictate what is abuse of the code and what is just an honest mistake. Lundstrom argued that the elections commissioner needs that discretion, and added that the problem with last year’s election process wasn’t the election commissioner having too much power, it was the holes in the elections code.

    But let’s take it a step further. The problem wasn’t the code as much as it was the candidates. Allen and Daniel Hernandez read the code and knew full well what was in there. If they didn’t, they knew who to talk to for clarification. They disregarded the code and made a mockery of the elections process and ASUA.

    Proposed revisions to the code make what Allen did last semester perfectly acceptable. In fact, it almost encourages actions like his. If you’re thinking about breaking a rule, make sure you break it big and make sure it adds up to votes. It will all be worth it. You’ll walk away with a warning, which amounts to nothing more than a frowny face on your grade school report card, and you’ll have pocketed some valuable votes.

    If you read the code, you know what is and what isn’t allowed. If there’s a gray area, ask the person who wrote the code. It’s that simple.

    Instead of washing the blame from Allen’s hands, put together a concise code and stand by it.

    During the senate meeting, Elections Commissioner Mikindra Morin said she felt uncomfortable with the amount of power her position had under the old code. What she fails to understand is that her duty as elections commissioner is to protect the integrity of ASUA elections. Through the proposed draft of the code, Morin would eliminate herself from any real role in overseeing that the election process is fair and would sanction all of Allen’s wrongdoings last spring.

    If this is any indication of what elections next semester will look like, expect rampant violations again this spring, but little punishment. Let the free-for-all commence.

    — Editiorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat’s opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Kristina Bui, Storm Byrd, Nicole Dimtsios and Steven Kwan. They can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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