Elections Director faces heavy criticism

The Senate pushes to redo the elections after determining the elections were faulty due to several errors made by the elections committee.

The third Senate Meeting of the quarter was called to order at 7:03 PM. All Senators were present except CHASS Senator Jules Yang, CHASS Senator Alex Lu, CNAS Senator Kyle Cheng, and CNAS Senator Brenden Cano. CHASS Senator Andrew Bui, CHASS Senator Brandon Huang, and BCOE Senator Chloe Au were late to the meeting. All ECAB members were present as well except VP of Campus Internal Affairs Nassar, Transfer Student Director Shelton, and Personnel Director Ahluwalia.

After approving the agenda and the previous meeting minutes the senate opened the podium for the public forum. Connor, a 3rd-year student, approached the senate with an app proposal to help student organizations make online connections with the student body and make club events more accessible online. EVP Usmani recommended sending an email with a presentation and to prepare to present the idea formally at the next meeting. 

The Elections Director Trinh entered the meeting at 7:09 PM. Angel Renteria, the relations director for ASUCR external affairs, approached the podium to discuss several issues with the election results. Angel spoke on personal concerns as a student about the numerous errors in the election processes: including unaccounted votes, unclear instructions on the ballots, and inadequate voter turnout which hit a low of approximately 10%. Miss Simpson from the residential hall association noted that a lot of students were unaware about the election, and some did not receive ballots. 

According to the Elections Director, the only votes that were miscounted were the Monday CNAS votes, CNAS Sen. Camilia Mohamed was not included on the ballot, the original votes were lost in order to resend and confirm votes.  However, CNAS Sen. Shukan Shah and multiple people during the meeting noted that they didn’t receive the notice or multiple notices about re-sent votes within an adequate time frame to reasonably confirm the votes. The Election Director did not refer to the Elections Code instead confided in administrators Amy and Mayan, however both admin and ballot techs had limited access to the ballots. The Elections Director also reported difficulties with the elections site. According to the Elections Director, the administration had the most control over the votes. PPT Aalani Richardson confirmed with Brenden O’Brien about whether or not the Elections Code had specific instructions on voiding votes. O’Brien noted that there is a lack of directions for such procedures and advised the senate to consider new bylaws that would address similar issues moving forward.

107 CNAS votes were voided, leaving only 17 votes to represent CNAS. President Assaf, Sen. Shah, and Sen. Mohamed expressed disappointment in the Elections Director and with the way the elections process was handled. PPT Richardson clarified that, while they were familiar with technical errors that previous elections directors have faced, the errors observed from Elections Director Trinh were identified as human errors made in the information provided on the ballots, communication errors, as well as organizational errors made in preparation for the elections. PPT Richardson also noted that there was an effort to aid the Elections Director. However, the relevant information about the elections process that was organized by the PPT committee was not reviewed by Trinh. Several students, senators and ECAB members called for a revote. The assembly moved to dissolve the involvement of Elections Director Trinh from the new elections or at least have oversight from administration. 

President Assaf encouraged a motion to make the election result and committee for 2023 invalid. After confirming with the senate PPT Richardson motioned for a new 2023-24 ASUCR elections to address the errors that need to be corrected under a elections committee and director that are oversighted by qualified members. While the motion passed 5-0-2, the motion requires 2 out of 3 student government bodies, either from the Judicial or the Elections Committee, before the new election is fully approved. 

During the Ex-Officio Reports, Chief Justice Arias reported that Law Week went successfully and surpassed last year’s turnout. Judicial will be focused on finding a candidate for VPDEI. The Chief Justice raised concerns about the lack of violation reports made by the elections committee after hearing about several unreported violations. There will be a search for a new Chief Justice elect earlier than usual because Arias will be stepping down from her role early due to personal reasons. PPT Richardson asked for clarifications about the current violations strikes would affect candidates in the new elections processes. Candidates are allowed to appeal the strike, however, the Judicial court will have final say to determine if the strike will be revoked. Assuming that the new elections are approved by a second government body, candidates can expect to re-campaign. The new elections will be held online in order, rendering posters useless, to make the elections fair for candidates who cannot afford to buy more posters.

The EVP announced that Sen. Cano has resigned from his position due to his commitments to military training. His position is now open. In order to end the senate meeting in a timely manner, the State of the Association was tabled to next week’s senate meeting. 

As part of committee reports, two pieces of legislation were discussed and passed. A motion to open senate resolutions, SR-S23-001 Menstrual Product Resolution, was called by Sen. Elkatat and seconded  by Sen. Mohammed. As described by PPT. Richardson, the resolution called for a greater availability of menstrual products for students on campus. Sen. Barman, a primary author of this piece of legislation, discussed the statistics of how difficult it is for students’ to access menstrual products at UCR and noted how our university should follow Assembly Bill 367. After an amendment to add secondary authors was passed, the legislation passed 13-0-0. 

Senate Bill, SB-S23-002 VPDEI Disability Rights and Awareness Committee Enactment, established a new committee, Disability Rights and Awareness committee, under the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. SPP Sen. Nguyen expressed concerns that the legislation may need to be tabled given the current state of our elections, however, PPT Richardson, Sen. Shah, and Sen. Hunt clarified that the legislation will stand in queue for consideration by the next senate. With a friendly amendment, the bill was passed 13-0-0.

In addition to legislation, Finance Hearing Minutes were reviewed as part of committee reports. Notably, Finance Hearing Minutes #3 saw the Black Student Union receiving an  Event Grant and Black Cultural Fair that will take place on May 28th and Finance Hearing Minutes #4 saw Pro-staff Amy Carizzosa requesting an Exception for the use of Outreach Funds. Both Hearing Minutes were approved 13-0-0. 

For roundtable announcements, Sen. Elkatat is planning an event with the Middle Eastern Student Committee event. Sen Mido is Trying to plan an event for next week and has worked with Afghan refugees in Riverside. Sen. Barman noted that it was Denim Day, and collaborated with CARE for care kits. Sen. Nguyen registered for a CalFresh event that will take place Wednesday May, the 24th. Sen. Shah announced that the South Asian Federation is having a cultural show coming soon and Sen. Huang announced that the CSA is having a cultural fair this Saturday. PPT Richardson announced that she is currently planning the R’Gear distribution and reminded the senate to have legislation to be submitted to her before 9am on Fridays. The meeting was adjourned at 10:13 P.M.