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USAC divided on election code reform

By Jillian Beck

Jan. 31, 2013 12:47 a.m.

The undergraduate student government president plans to propose getting rid of the official elections endorsement process, a move that goes against the Election Board’s own proposal for election code reform.

Undergraduate Students Association Council President David Bocarsly attended the USAC Election Board meeting Wednesday, asking the board to take up his proposal to do away with the official endorsement process for the spring USAC elections.

The board plans to present its own proposal to limit the endorsement process to club signatories to USAC for a vote next week, said Dana Pede, USAC Election Board chair.

The election code reform proposals aim to address loopholes that were abused last year during the endorsement process, which led to several false student group endorsements.

The differences between the election code proposals hinge on Election Board oversight. Bocarsly said at the meeting that he wants to eliminate the board’s regulation of the endorsement process, instead allowing student groups to endorse candidates freely in a non-official capacity through avenues like flyers and social media. Citing past experiences as a candidate and student involved in the election process, Bocarsly said the official endorsement process -– which involves an endorsement hearing and a two-page advertisement with the student group endorsements in the Daily Bruin -– creates more problems than benefits.

“There are things you would lose out on by getting rid of endorsements. I am not saying that there is no harm done by getting rid of them,” he said at the meeting Wednesday. “But, I think the benefits outweigh the cons ten- or even twenty-fold.”

He said he thinks the endorsement process is too much time and extra work for both the Election Board and candidates.

Several Election Board members, however, said they would be concerned about the lack of oversight if groups could endorse on their own without the traditional board-regulated process. But Bocarsly said he doesn’t think more problems would arise.

Brett Chalabian, a first-year biochemistry student and Election Board investigations committee member, said without the endorsement process, students wouldn’t have a centralized location to view student group endorsements.

The discussion often turned heated between Bocarsly and members of the Election Board, specifically Eena Singh, Election Board vice-chair and last year’s chair. Throughout the meeting, Bocarsly said he doesn’t think student groups value the endorsement process, which sparked a debate between him and Singh.

Singh asked Bocarsly if he thought he could speak on behalf of the more than 1,000 student groups at UCLA.

“I can, because I was elected to do so,” Bocarsly said in response.

Singh and Bocarsly went back and forth about Bocarsly going forward with his alternate proposal without the Election Board’s support.

“You appointed Election Board as an entity to decide what we think is best for elections and the school,” Singh said. “But you are presenting a proposal that is against this entire board and you are saying the council is going to reject our proposal, (so) then what is the point?”

Bocarsly acknowledged that he appointed the Election Board, but held strong to his argument.

“I very much respect all of you, but I don’t have to agree with you,” he said. “And just because I appointed you, doesn’t mean I have to agree with everything you decide to do.”

Bocarsly said he plans to draft and submit his proposal to the Election Board by the end of this week. The board will then propose both Bocarsly’s proposal and its own side-by-side on Monday to the Constitutional Review Committee, a subcommittee of USAC, before the council votes on the proposals on Tuesday. The Election Board can give its recommendation to the council about each proposal, Pede said. Any change to the election code must be approved by a two-thirds vote in USAC.

Email Beck at [email protected]

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