The UC Santa Barbara Associated Students Senate passed an amendment to raise the voter participation threshold for all future special elections from 3% to 8% on Feb. 15.
The legislation, titled “A Bill to Address Accountable Practices in Special Elections,” will be in effect after spring quarter and follows unrest over the low threshold during the winter quarter special election to fill the internal vice president position.
Following dissent from student organizations during the Associated Students (A.S.) Senate’s Feb. 1 meeting, A.S. Elections Board voted to raise the threshold from 3% to 7% specifically for the winter quarter special election. The bill codifies the threshold change to 8% for all future special elections.
“3% is under 700 students, and in no way can this be considered a valid representation of the electorate and their desires,” the bill states. “This move drew broad criticism from several on-campus organizations such as the SB YDSA and the UCSB Campus Democrats, and this reveals a major unchecked power of the elections board.”
The special election closed voting on Feb. 4 with a 7.15% turnout. Third-year economics and communication double major Sydney Kupsh was announced as internal vice president on Feb. 10, following the resolution of a Judicial Council case contesting the election’s legitimacy.
The bill’s original proposed threshold was 15%, but during the Senate’s Feb. 8 meeting, fourth-year political science major and author of the bill Granger Cruz-Brenneman proposed amending it to 8% after assessing prior special election turnout.
“I’ve been made aware of two issues regarding the bill: one, that no special election turnout has even surpassed 9.5% of the student body, which is a fact I find disappointing; and second, that this bill can’t be in effect until the end of the school year,” Cruz-Brenneman said in the meeting. “But these issues can be addressed with simple amendments, and I intend to fix this bill before sending it back to Internal Affairs Committee for re-review and re-approval.”
The bill received approval by the Internal Affairs Committee on Feb. 14 and was then passed on Feb. 15.