To avoid past mistakes, student government prepares for elections
The USG’s legislative branch amended the electoral code and passed resolutions to ensure student representation and the smooth running of the spring elections
As undergraduate student government senators scramble to pass resolutions they hope will prevent mistakes from happening next semester during the election, much of the process is left to the coming executive. just appointed an election commissioner, thus breaking the process provided for in the electoral code for the position.
Students associated with ASU elections are overseen by an Elections Commissioner who is appointed by the USG Tempe Executive Board – the President, Vice President of Policy and Vice President of Services – and then confirmed by the senate. Each USG campus president then appoints an assistant election commissioner to oversee the elections on each campus.
The electoral code specifies that the post should be filled by the meeting of all senates in November, which took place on November 12. No election commissioner was then selected and candidacies were open for additional weeks.
USGT chairman John Hopkins said in an email that the executive branch has selected a commissioner who he hopes will be confirmed by the Senate in the spring semester and complete a process of integration. Hopkins, a senior finance student, said the person will be appointed once they are cleared for human relations. Campaigns and elections usually take place at the end of March.
Other changes to the electoral code that will be represented in the next election were influenced by past electoral errors – Senate seats have always been vacant due to lack of interest, an executive candidate has taken office despite the election was lost and a candidate for the Senate won a seat even though he had tried to abandon the race.
According to the changes to the electoral code, there will be more polling stations, candidates will be offered online campaign training, corruption has been banned, and ranked choice voting has been clarified.
According to the legislation passed, exploratory majors on the Tempe campus should expect representation in the Senate.
Amendments to the electoral code
Agreed upon at the meeting of all senators on November 12, the changes to the electoral code include a provision specifying that there should be one polling station per campus with an additional office for 20,000 students. The Tempe campus would be the only one affected.
USGT Senate President Marco Huerta, a political science student, said he supported the amendment for additional polling stations in the hope that they would allow more students to vote and vote. get involved.
Historically, turnout for the USG has been extremely low. In 2018, only 1,955 students voted in the USG elections. About 73,000 students were eligible to vote in the same year.
“If you look at our number of students who vote in our USG or ASASU elections versus the student body as a whole, it’s typically between 5% and 10% participation among our student body, which can certainly be much better, ”said Huerta.
The changes to the Election Code also include a provision to add a Canvas course for U.S. government candidates, which outlines campaign expectations and rules. The addition of the Canvas course allows candidates to complete the distance learning requirements. The previous electoral code only specified candidates who had to undergo mandatory in-person training.
Julius Woart, a USG polytechnic senator, a sophomore software engineering student who co-sponsored electoral code changes as part of a routine effort to ensure the USG was ready for the next election , said he hopes the Canvas course change will help students work around other time commitments.
Huerta said he was not sure the Canvas course was actually going to be created. He said the Election Commissioner would likely be tasked with implementing the course as part of the campaign routine.
The amendments also clarify that any attempt to bribe voters will be considered a level three violation, which immediately disqualifies candidates from running for office.
Additional preparations to avoid repeated mistakes
USG elections use ranked choice voting, which means voters rank candidates in their preferred order, rather than simply selecting a ticket to win. In ranked choice voting, the ticket with the most first choice votes wins the election. If no ticket obtains a majority, the ticket with the fewest votes is eliminated and the votes are distributed to the second choice of that group.
Recent changes to the Election Code 2021-2022 clarify how the ballots would be compiled after the Election Commission incorrectly defined classified choice voting in the Election Code and named the incorrect executive ticket won in the elections of the Election Code. spring 2021.
“I think we have done everything we can within the competence of the Senate to prepare for the elections,” Huerta said. “The rest goes to the executive branch, the election commissioner and any deputy election commissioners the election commissioner hires.”
Amanda Lombard, a senior student in public service and public policy and civic and economic thought and leadership, is currently an ASASU Supreme Court judge representing the downtown Phoenix campus. Lombard said the court is preparing for the election by revising the electoral code and making sure it complies with other ASASU regulations.
“There is a bit of ambiguity and last year the electoral code changed with some pretty significant fixes, especially with the way votes are counted and decided,” Lombard said. “So I plan to relive that this year, just sort of overhaul.”
Lombard said the court only reviews the policy when the USG requests an advisory opinion or if someone files a policy request because of concerns about non-compliance with the election code or statutes.
“Due to all the controversy and everything that surrounded the 2019-2020 school year, they asked the Supreme Court for a lot of advice, to make sure everything went well last year,” said Lombard. “This year we haven’t heard much, so I think it will be interesting, especially since you’ve drawn our attention to the new Senate bills that are coming out.”
Tempe representation for exploratory majors
Three Senate bills passed on November 16 by the USGT created accommodations to open a Senate seat for University College, a school that offers exploratory programs that guide students on how to be successful academically. , but do not award diplomas.
An exploratory program lasts only two or three semesters until the student enrolls in an ASU school from which they will graduate. Izaac Mansfield, a USGT senator representing the College of Global Futures, said he sponsored Senate Bill 23 to allow the allocation of Senate seats to non-degree-granting colleges.
“Essentially, University College doesn’t award a degree, but then we realized that Barrett probably wasn’t awarding a degree either,” said Mansfield, a junior student who studies innovation in society and systems. computer information.
SB 29 allows University College students to go through an appointment process instead of an election. The statutes of the USG state that the councils of the respective colleges can fill vacant seats in the Senate. After a period of two weeks, the president of the senate may appoint a senator with the approval of the college council.
According to SB 30, the Senate seat of University College is exempt from the US government’s obligation for senators to “immediately relinquish their seat in the Senate” if the Senate “changes respective university affiliation.” A senator from the University College who has changed major may retain his seat until the end of his mandate.
Changes still in the air at the end of the semester
A bill to ensure representation for colleges with 100 or more students was debated in the spring by the USGT at its November 16 meeting. The performances reportedly included senators for students of the College of Health Solutions and the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions which are located on the Tempe campus.
Another bill, which was passed and sent as an advisory opinion to the ASASU Supreme Court, described the allocation of seats for University College, Barrett, The Honors College and the College of Health Solutions. .
The USG statutes state that the ASASU Supreme Court must do a seat count for next year’s body by November 1 and send those numbers to the Elections Commissioner.
Without the Health Solutions and Watts Representation Bill, a bill that outlines the number of seats and an approved Election Commissioner, it is not clear whether students at these colleges will be represented.
Piper Hansen contributed to the writing of this article.
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