At last week’s senate meeting, amendments were made to the standing ASUCR election bylaws. Major changes were made to remove the ban on laptopping in addition to beginning exclusive voting at polling sites, limiting campaign spending and diffusing power from the elections director to the committee.
Elections Director Melina Reyes announced that the elections committee met for the first time on Jan. 29 and established a finalized timeline for this year’s elections. Filing for candidacy, as well as party affiliations, opened up on Feb. 4 at 8 a.m. and ends on March 11 at 5 p.m. Campaigning is to take place during the first three weeks of spring quarter from March 28 to April 15.
CHASS Senator Casey Thielhart asked why election campaigning last year spanned five weeks, but will only span three weeks this year. “We’re students first, ultimately. That’s been my main motivation,” Reyes responded. She also stated that the primary reason for shortening this year’s campaign season is because “It’s exhausted people. It’s taken a toll on mental, physical and emotional health.” The timeline was approved unanimously.
The elections code was broken down into six different actions items that were addressed separately, with changes in the code being read to the horseshoe by President Pro Tempore Corey Willis.
Multiple changes to the bylaws took power away from the elections director and instead put more decisions into the hands of the elections committee.
The entire section of the code to disallow laptopping was struck out. “The justification for me personally, is — number one, UC San Diego, for example … they allow laptopping and they still don’t get the same number of voter turnout that we get,” elaborated Willis. He felt that saying ‘laptopping forces students to vote’ is disrespectful to the agency and the intelligence of the students because he believes we are all adults and have the right to say no.
Instead of utilizing online voting, polling sites are expected be set up near the Bell Tower during certain times.
Another significant change made in the code caps the amount of campaign spending with the intent to level the playing field for those who choose to run. Reyes justified this change by mentioning one of her concerns that she shared while interviewing for the position of elections director. “One thing that I really highlighted … was that there was not a lot of opportunities for individual candidates and independents to run and the big part of that is that they simply can’t compete with these thousands of dollars that parties are able to put out.”
Individual candidates will be limited now to $400, party candidacy shall be limited to $100 in campaign expenses, per candidate in the party. If parties do not meet four members, they will be allowed to spend up to a total of $400 in campaign expenses.
The three strikes penalty was also changed to a five strikes policy in the event of campaign policy violations.