The undergraduate student government unanimously appointed an Election Board chair at its weekly meeting on Tuesday.
The Election Board chair is responsible for overseeing the spring Undergraduate Students Association Council election. The newly appointed USAC Election Board chair, Dana Pede, a third-year applied mathematics student, will need to address loopholes in the election code that were abused and revealed in the last USAC election, specifically during the candidate endorsement process. Several student groups claimed they were misrepresented at endorsement hearings without authorization.
“From what happened last year, I understand that the code should be updated,” Pede said to the council during her appointment hearing. “At the very least, I think the endorsement process needs to be looked at again, perhaps making sure that only club signatories or officially authorized representatives can (turn in endorsements).”
Pede said she has met twice with Kris Kaupalolo, adviser to the USAC Election Board, and former Election Board chair, Eena Singh, a fourth-year anthropology student, to discuss the loopholes in the election code and the chair position.
Pede plans to meet with the Constitutional Review Committee, a subcommittee of four USAC members that discusses any changes to bylaws, the election code and other governing documents, she added. Ultimately, any changes to the election code must be approved by USAC.
Anees Hasnain, USAC Community Service Commissioner and chair of the subcommittee, reached out to Pede the day after her appointment, inviting her to the subcommittee’s meeting about the election code on Nov. 28.
Pede’s appointment comes seven weeks after USAC bylaws state the Election Board chair should be appointed. USAC President David Bocarsly said in an interview with the Daily Bruin last month that it would be inappropriate to appoint a new chair prior to addressing the problems in the election code. The loopholes in the election code, however, have yet to be formally addressed.
Singh said she went through the election code earlier this quarter and compiled a draft that highlights potential problems and loopholes within the document. But she didn’t go further than compiling the initial draft because there was no Election Board chair, she added.
“I didn’t want to move forward. It’s not my role anymore,” she said. “I don’t think it’s appropriate for someone who wasn’t Election Board chair to push (the election code changes) forward.”
Bocarsly said the discussion about appointing a chair started after Singh wrote the initial draft.
“At that point, it became clear that either Eena had to be E-Board chair again or she had to work closely with the next E-Board chair,” he said.
But, Bocarsly said he wanted any potential Election Board chair appointees to have unanimous backing from the council. And Singh didn’t have that support for a second term, he added.
Singh said her post-graduation plans also made her not want to return as this year’s Election Board chair.
“There has never really been any continuous presence on the Election Board,” Singh said. “I don’t want to leave everything that happened last year on Dana alone. I have offered my help ““ I just don’t know in what sense that (will be) yet.”
Once Singh was ruled out as a potential appointee this year, Bocarsly and External Vice President Lana Habib El-Farra approached Pede about applying for the position, Bocarsly said.
Pede said she hadn’t considered applying before being approached by the two councilmembers. But she added that she has been interested in the USAC elections process since she came to UCLA as a first-year.
Pede said she sees the advantages of being appointed well before USAC election season rolls around.
“Clearly, election season is going to be hectic ““ no matter what,” Pede said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to see problems before they arise and address them.”
She also said she hopes to appoint the rest of her board by the end of fall quarter.
El-Farra, who has known Pede since their first year at UCLA, said Pede’s interest in USAC elections without any direct involvement made her an ideal candidate.
“(Pede) has always been on the outside, but she’s always been well-informed,” El-Farra said.
Pede said she has not campaigned for any USAC candidates or worked in any USAC offices ““ although she did apply to the Financial Supports Commission last year before pulling herself out of the running because of a hectic schedule.
“I think I voted a split-ticket my freshman year when both slates ran candidates,” she said. “I like to think I’m about as neutral and impartial as they come.”