Thursday, March 21

USAC referendum vote to be conducted online


By Jenny Blake DAILY BRUIN CONTRIBUTOR
[email protected]

After securing last week a $40,000 subsidy from the Associated
Students of UCLA that was in jeopardy of being slashed from the
budget, the undergraduate student government is now hoping for
voters to pass a referendum to increase student fees.

Every undergraduate student pays a mandatory USAC membership fee
of $24.09 per quarter to help support campus programs and services.
The referendum proposes an $8.50 increase in this fee, for a total
of $32.59 each quarter.

The election ““ which will run from noon today to noon
Friday ““ will be conducted via the MyUCLA Web site. Voters
can access the page from any computer on or off-campus anytime
except 4-6 a.m. Results will be announced in front of Ackerman
Union at 2 p.m. Friday.

The special election is held online for two main reasons ““
the Bruin Card staff could not supply additional resources or poll
workers to run a third election, and council members felt a paper
election would cause voter fatigue and reduce turnout.

A minimum 20 percent of the student body must vote, and at least
half, or 10 percent, must approve it for the referendum to
pass.

“The online election will hopefully increase turnout
because it’s a different way of doing it,” said Matt
Kaczmarek, Election Board chair. “It also makes sense since
there is only one issue being voted on.”

According Kaczmarek, USAC decided it made sense to introduce the
referendum now because of a recent decrease in the mandatory
Ackerman Student Union fee from $51 to $7.50.

If the referendum passes, “your total fee package will be
going down, but you will be paying more money to a different
fee,” Kaczmarek said.

Student groups have suffered monetary strains in the past year
because of raised operating costs for their offices and decreased
funding.

“I’ve had to stop staff stipends and cut back on a
lot of programming to make up for our funding deficit,” said
Community Service Commissioner Sunny Sanchez. “I hope this
referendum will make students more alert about where they are
getting their funding.”

Candidate groups register with the E-Board to campaign for or
against the referendum. No group is currently registered to oppose
the referendum.

The E-Board will publicize the on-line election in ways similar
to regular elections ““ via campaigning groups and
advertisements in the Daily Bruin, along with notifications on the
MyUCLA Web page, Kaczmarek said.

“Hopefully between the three different ways of publicizing
the election, students will be notified and participate in the
election,” he said. “It’s hard because its ninth
week, but we hope students will take the time and educate
themselves about it.”

Some council members expressed concern about security and equal
access for online voters.

“My primary concern is just making sure the process is as
secure as possible,” said Internal Vice President Kennisha
Austin, who has also questioned how to prevent students from being
intimidated to vote a certain way by others standing near a
computer.

Kaczmarek said he is confident in the security of the site and
that no one except the site administrator will be able to see how
or when people voted.

Each vote will be recorded in two separate databases: one will
record the student ID number in a randomized list, the other will
record which computer the vote came from.

The data should help plan future on-line elections, should the
council decide to conduct another one, Kaczmarek said.

The E-Board has budgeted $5,000 for the election to be divided
among publicity, administration and endorsement. According to
Kaczmarek, the costs of this election are comparable to that of the
paper runoff election earlier this month.

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