In an attempt to avoid a Florida-type disaster, Associated Students Legislative Council took almost two-and-a-half hours to pass an amendment eliminating runoffs in the upcoming A.S. elections.
Declaration of Candidacy Forms required to run for A.S. offices come out on Friday, leaving Leg Council little time to approve the new Election Code. However, there was time to debate several areas of the “E-Code” that would change the way elections are run.
According to the old By-Laws, a candidate needed 50-plus-one percent of the votes to win an executive office. If that was not achieved, a separate run-off election was held between the top two candidates, and only those students who voted the first time were permitted to vote in the runoff.
Historically, voter turnout has decreased dramatically between general elections and run-off elections. Last year, voter numbers decreased by approximately 50 percent between the two elections.
Off-Campus Rep Jonathan Kalinski said the current system needed to be reworked to achieve maximum use of votes from general elections.
“The system currently in place is a joke,” he said, “and allows for the hijacking of elections.”
Instead, voters will now pick two candidates for each executive office. If no one receives a majority of votes, the top two candidates will advance. Then, the second votes of everyone who did not vote for one of the top two candidates would be added to the original totals, and whoever receives more total votes would be declared the winner.
Several people, including Goodspeed Intern Mel Fabi, felt the new system was too confusing and worried it could even decrease voter turnout.
“The more confusing it gets, the less people are going to vote,” he said. “I’m also worried mistakes will be made in the tallies.”
The bill passed by a vote of 17-3-1.
In other news, a Constitutional Amendment that would increase the A.S. Base Fee was discussed and then referred to the Base Fee Committee for further consideration. Currently, the $9.10 Base Fee is charged to all undergraduates at the beginning of every quarter and helps pay for various student services.
The proposed amendment calls for an increase of $5.90, bringing the total Base Fee to $15, and provisions for inflation. No constitutional amendment can be enacted without the approval of the student body, and so the proposed increase would be on the ballot in the A.S. elections this spring.
Leg Council also voted on a position paper supporting the expansion of the Chumash Casino. Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to the governor to intervene in the Chumash Indian Casino Project, arguing that the tribe “did not make a good faith effort” in its dealings with the county regarding the expansion project.
Off-Campus Rep Pablo Andrade authored the resolution and argued the Chumash did make a good faith effort and are not in violation of any environmental regulations.
“After fighting for 10 years to obtain a contract with the state of California,” he said, “why would a tribe such as the Chumash choose to jeopardize their license to have class III gambling?”
The resolution, which was first presented to Leg Council several weeks ago, passed unanimously.