The Daily Nexus will not be releasing endorsements for the current Internal Vice President special election as a result of the expedited handling of procedure and an active Judicial Council case calling the legitimacy of the election into question. 

The Nexus typically releases an endorsement for every Associated Students (A.S.) executive officer election — including special elections to fill vacant executive offices — but the unique circumstances pertaining to this winter quarter’s special election have made it impossible for us to do so. 

The Nexus’ endorsements are intended to inform the broader UCSB student community of each candidate’s past accomplishments and understanding of the role they wish to inhabit. The Nexus is well equipped to assess these candidates given our extensive, weekly reporting on A.S. executives, the Senate and their functions. 

The A.S. Judicial Council filed an injunction against the release of voting results until a case brought forth by A.S. Senator Sohum Kalia is resolved. The case is contesting the election’s legitimacy over alleged violations of legal code in declaring the Internal Vice President (IVP) position vacant after the removal of former IVP Bee Schaefer. 

Although it is not the role of the Nexus Editorial Board to dictate internal A.S. matters, the unique circumstances surrounding the 73rd Senate leadership have produced  concerns over the legitimacy of the special election itself. Until these concerns are fully resolved, we are choosing to abstain from releasing an endorsement. 

“Judicial Council recognizes that delaying a Winter Special Election could hinder the ability of Election Board to hold any Special Election in winter, thus Judicial Council is allowing the election to continue and filing an injunction on the release of the results until a hearing can determine the validity of this Election,” the injunction stated. 

Kalia is alleging that the results of the special election are void because the A.S. Senate did not deem the IVP position vacant — a stipulation of holding a special election for an executive officer position per legal code

The position of the IVP was deemed vacant by A.S. President Gurleen Pabla on Nov. 28, who called for a winter special election via executive order. Pabla’s executive order said that Schaefer had de facto resigned from the position due to her ongoing strike against A.S. — a claim that Schaefer denied at the time. 

Between the sparse number of Senate meetings held this year and the subsequent internal dysfunction within A.S., the student government’s expedited response to a special election is understandable. However, given that the Senate never approved the removal of Schaefer, and the legitimacy of the election is currently in question as a result of an ongoing injunction, the Nexus believes this election should have been handled with more thoughtfulness in intention and execution. 

Several Senators voiced concerns around the legality and function of Pabla’s executive order at the time of its publication. A.S. Attorney General Adam Bagul said the unprecedented “breakdown of function” to A.S. proceedings spoke to the “validity and necessity” of Pabla’s order.

“The breakdown of function that UCSB’s A.S. went through during Fall Quarter made the strict adherence to these portions of AS legal code impossible,” Bagul said. “Holding the current Special Election to the typical procedures laid out in legal code is a misnomer, as the executive order that prescribed the Special Election in this case takes precedence over the typical procedures for a conventional term.”

The Senate approved the special election time line — created by the Elections Board — on Jan. 18, two weeks before the election. 

Per the Elections Board, the timeline was as follows: declaration of candidacy by Jan. 24, supplement and endorsements by Jan. 28 and campaigning beginning Jan. 27. The Elections Board did not confirm the names of the candidates to the Nexus until Jan. 29, one day before voting opened. 

The Nexus understands that the circumstances surrounding this year’s special election were unique, and the Elections Board and Senate were bound to the A.S. Legal Code  Article XI Section 2A stipulation that if a petition is filed after the Senate’s fifth meeting, special elections must be held by the fourth week of the following quarter. 

But this was not enough time for UCSB students — much less the Nexus — to get to know the eligible candidates or be aware that an election was occurring. It also prevented candidates from the normal amount of time allotted to campaign on campus. The Elections Board, as well as A.S. as a whole, should be well aware of the disengagement the greater campus community has with their elected and appointed officials, and be working to remedy this problem, not furthering it. 

To the credit of A.S. Senators, they have been provided with very little leadership or training amid the continual internal dysfunction since Fall Quarter 2022. In addition, A.S. executives have had to tend to additional duties beyond their regular responsibilities in response to turmoil within A.S. and the impacts of Schaefer’s strike and subsequent removal. The Daily Nexus recognizes that the obstacles posed to the 73rd Senate are difficult to address and overcome without someone placed within the role of IVP. 

Ultimately, however, this unique timeline was the responsibility and fault of A.S., and A.S. should have been willing to take unprecedented measures to create transparency for the students it claims to serve. 

Furthermore, because the Nexus Editorial Board was given no time to conduct the endorsement process, and the legitimacy of the election itself has not yet been confirmed, we cannot, in good faith, endorse a candidate.

A version of this article appeared on p. 3 of the Feb. 2, 2023, print edition of the Daily Nexus.