Students voiced discontent at the Feb. 1 Associated Students Senate meeting regarding the low voting threshold and lack of election information of the winter quarter special election for internal vice president.
Although voting closed on Feb. 4 at 4 p.m., the results of the election will remain withheld until a pending Associated Students (A.S.) judicial council case alleging the special election itself is illegitimate is resolved.
Following the Feb. 1 senate meeting, the A.S. elections board voted to raise the voting threshold from its original 3% to 7% of the total undergraduate student body and extended the deadline to vote from Feb. 2 to Feb. 4.
Voting numbers hit 7.15% on Feb. 4, passing the amended voting threshold by .15%. The amended requirement stipulates that 1559 students must vote for the election to be certified.
The eligible candidates are third-year political science major Coleton Cristiani, third-year economics and communication double major Sydney Kupsh and fourth-year communication major Gabrielle Diaz.
The election follows an executive order issued by A.S. President Gurleen Pabla on Nov. 28 deeming the internal vice president (IVP) position vacant. The executive order stated that former IVP Bee Schaefer resigned from her position due to her ongoing strike against A.S., a claim Schaefer denied.
Following the announcement of the special elections, A.S. Senator Sohum Kalia filed a case to the A.S. Judicial Council contesting the legitimacy of the special election due to its alleged violations of legal code. The case claims the results of the special election would be void because the Senate did not formally deem the IVP position vacant.
An update on the results of the A.S. Judicial Council case and the temporary injunction on the election results will be provided on Feb. 7, Kalia said.
UCSB Campus Democrats President and second-year history of public policy and law major Audrey Edel made the motion to increase the threshold during a scheduled meeting with the A.S. Elections Board. The motion followed Edel and several other members of UCSB Campus Democrats attending public forum at the senate meeting, demonstrating their opposition to the initial voter threshold and deeming it too low to best represent the votes of UCSB’s student body.
“Nobody should be holding elected office if they can barely reach 7% of the vote,” she said during the meeting.
While the motion only requested amendments to this special election, Edel noted there is a greater issue with how A.S. Senate approaches elections and voter engagement.
“We did some research, and they had publicized [the special election] with one email and one Instagram post … so, to me, the entire manner [of the election], from start to finish, showed some serious flaws,” she said in an interview with the Nexus.
Special elections candidate Cristiani also spoke out against the initial threshold of 3% during the senate meeting.
“The process of electing representatives to any government ought to be one of the most serious things that any body of people makes,” he said. “[The threshold] is a move that I feel is fundamentally against the interests of the UCSB student body at large. It’s my belief that you’re effectively robbing students and their right to cast a vote in this special election and make their voices heard.”
Edel questioned the legitimacy of a 3% threshold during the senate meeting, identifying a greater issue of the publicity of this special election and voter engagement for A.S. elections in general.
“3% — That’s 600 students. That is an absolutely absurd and undemocratic statement,” she said during the Senate meeting. “In what world would 3% be an acceptable amount of votes to quantify someone into a huge position of power?”
Third-year history of public policy and law major Matthew Mucha addressed the concern that the initial 3% threshold would result in a body of members in A.S. that are not majorly supported by the UCSB undergraduate student population.
“These members would be supported by a vocal minority of only 606 people, and I don’t think that’s right,” he said during the senate meeting.
Mucha advised the senate to spend the funding dedicated for A.S. in a manner that accurately reflects the needs of UCSB students.
“This body has access to a stupid amount of money collected from UCSB students, and I don’t want that money to be spent and moved around in ways that I don’t really want to see happen, especially ways that could be against the wishes of a liberal campus like UCSB.”