Monday, January 21

USAC Election Board amends code to clarify spending rules

The election board leaders discussed their ongoing preparations for spring USAC elections at a meeting Monday. (Emma Skinner/Daily Bruin)

The election board leaders discussed their ongoing preparations for spring USAC elections at a meeting Monday. (Emma Skinner/Daily Bruin)

The undergraduate student government election board amended its election code, but the board said it still needs to come up with specific plans for the upcoming spring election.

The new code, amended Jan. 31, specified that all ballot propositions have the same spending budget and that all students will receive a ballot in which the names of candidates and propositions are randomized, said Danielle Fitzgerald, election board chair. The amendments will be executed in the undergraduate student election in week six of spring quarter.

The election board, which was appointed by the Undergraduate Students Association Council during week one of winter quarter, consists of five committees that oversee USAC elections.

During last year’s election, the election board was scrutinized for controversial sanctions administered to the Social Justice Referendum for exceeding its spending limit. The board changed the code because petitioners at the time claimed the code was too vague in its rules regarding spending limits for candidates and slates.

The code previously stated that ballot propositions adhere to the same spending limits and sanctions as candidates and slates.

The petitioners said they assumed they could spend more money because they had more line items than other propositions.

The code revision clarifies that referenda have the same budget as candidates and other propositions, regardless of how many line items they have.

The board also added clarifications regarding write-in candidates. The previous code implied anyone could be a write-in candidate. However that is not the case, said Melanie Gharehptian, election board vice chair.

“It made sense to redefine write-in candidates because USAC elections don’t offer paper ballots anyways, so all candidates are already presented on the ballot, ” Gharehptian said.

Discussions about having a randomized ballot begun last year. In May, members of the Constitutional Review Committee said they thought students were more likely to vote for candidates listed first under their respective positions, and council members approved switching to a randomized ballot for the 2017 election.

Though some believed that creating a randomized ballot to MyUCLA under the board’s budget last year would not be feasible, the External Relations Committee decided to begin implementing it this year, said Sam Ryklansky, External Relations Committee director.

“I believe the additional costs will be funded by the USAC capital fund,” Ryklansky said.

However, he could not specify the exact source of the fund allocation.

The board has also considered measures to prevent bloc voting, but came to the conclusion that there is no feasible way to combat it, Fitzgerald said.

“Although restricting voting times could potentially reduce bloc voting, the election code states that there needs to be 72 straight hours of voting,” Fitzgerald said. “So there isn’t a way to manipulate voting times without unfairly impacting students.”

She added the board can directly sanction those students who bloc vote but this would only be possible if someone filed a complaint with proof.

Gharehptian said the board will not hesitate to impose sanctions if the situation arises.

“The election code is a public document, and anyone has access to it, so there is really no excuse to violate it,” she said.

The Investigations Committee must abide by transparency standards by addressing complaints within a 24-hour time frame.

Even though spring elections begin in a few months, the board said discussions about specific committee plans are still in progress and have not been finalized.

The board added it will advertise the election through a video series, but it is still looking for other measures to promote voter turnout in spring.

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Kim is the assistant news editor for the campus politics beat. She was previously a contributor for the beat.

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