Associated Students Senate considered two separate proposals to amend the elections process during Wednesday’s 10-hour meeting.
Elections Committee initially presented their changes at last week’s meeting, which included shortening the candidate recruitment period and designating specific weeks for recruiting and campaigning, but amended the proposal after senators argued that less recruitment would yield less qualified candidates. The Executive Board also jointly proposed to tack on additional changes that would allow Elections Committee to disqualify candidates for ethical reasons.
Elections Committee Chair Hannah Yen said the revisions were made after the committee conceded that imposing a limit on the recruitment period was not realistic.
“In the recruitment section, recruitment is no longer having restrictions,” Yen said. “We don’t want to punish people. And realistically, if it’s happening, then we want to allow for that in the code … We are trying to do the best we can to accommodate what we think is best for the students and for you all.”
However, second-year political science major Anisha Ahuja said dropping the additional changes would result in the committee not holding parties accountable for their actions.
“It sounds like you’re addressing that there is a problem and basically just conceding to that,” Ahuja said. “I’m kind of confused about how this actually solves anything.”
Yen said her goal is to make the elections process as open to student involvement as possible.
“Different violations come up, different campaign strategies come up,” Yen said. “So we are always trying to make the process as fair and impartial as possible, and as open as possible and accessible to students.”
A.S. President Sophia Armen said the Executive Board’s proposal would give Elections Committee the power to disqualify students for the use of A.S. funds for personal affairs, the deliberate and public misrepresentation of the association and other ethical issues.
Student Advocate General Yoel Haile said the responsibility to ensure that candidates were indicted for ethical violations fairly would lie with the Judicial Council.
“We believe this to be the baseline … of what kind of ethical parameters should elected folks be held to. We’ve thought very long and hard about this,” Haile said. “If the Judicial Council finds that the student is responsible for violating these codes as the baseline, that Elections Committee be empowered to disqualify that student.”
Many Senators brought up concerns with the proposal. Off-Campus Senator Kyley Scarlet said it should be in the hands of the students to judge the character of each candidate, rather than the association.
“Shouldn’t the student body be the ones deciding the moral standards of their leaders, not this code?” Scarlet asked.
Yen said the Elections committee does not endorse the Executive Board’s proposal.
“The Committee does not want this in our code because we do not feel that this is part of our charge,” Yen said. “I hope that you take into account the fact that this is not something we wanted.”
Rhandy Siordia, External Vice President of Local Affairs, said the new ideas came about as a result of issues that have occurred in past elections.
“This is indeed a response. It would be a response to historical precedent,” Siordia said. “Has [an infraction like the ones mentioned in the proposal] happened in the past? Yes.”
After hours of debate, including a ‘working meeting’ in which the Senate abandoned the restrictions of the official meeting process and talked through the ideas in a circle on the floor, Senators passed the changes proposed by Elections Committee, but did not approve the ethics requirement proposed by the Executive Officers.
After the Senate passed a resolution that would support CALPIRG in an effort to repeal the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Citizens United v. FEC, three Senators exited the room abruptly, leaving the Senate without the requisite number of members present to adjourn the meeting. Next week, Senate will resume where it left off in this week’s agenda.