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USAC council to vote on election reform proposals

USAC meeting

Today, 7 p.m.
Kerckhoff 417

By Jillian Beck

Feb. 5, 2013 12:34 a.m.

The undergraduate student government election reform proposals will go to council for a vote tonight, after the Election Board’s proposal received a recommendation from the subcommittee responsible for reviewing election code changes, while the council president’s proposal did not.

The push for election code reform is in response to loopholes that were abused in last year’s elections leading to false student group endorsements.

On Monday, the Constitutional Review Committee, a subcommittee comprised of four Undergraduate Students Association Council officers, voted 2-0-2 to recommend the Election Board’s proposal to limit the official USAC endorsement process during the spring elections to group signatories or officially authorized representatives.

With a vote of 0-1-3, the committee did not recommend USAC President David Bocarsly’s proposal, which would replace the official endorsement hearing with a forum for any student or student group – registered and non-registered alike – to ask questions and decide on who to possibly endorse without going through the Election Board.

Council members have said the Constitutional Review Committee is an essential step in the approval process because the committee has more time to think about and discuss possible changes than at regular meetings. The bylaws do not say that the proposed election code changes have to go before the committee prior to going to the council for approval. But it has been common practice for the committee to review possible bylaw or code changes before going to the council table.

At the Constitutional Review Committee meeting, Dana Pede, USAC Election Board chair, presented the pros and cons of the board’s and Bocarsly’s proposals to the committee members – Community Service Commissioner Anees Hasnain, Academic Affairs Commissioner Kim Davis, Internal Vice President Andrea Hester and External Vice President Lana Habib El-Farra.

Both Hester and Davis, who normally cannot make it to the committee’s Monday afternoon meetings because of work but took the day off to go to this week’s meeting, abstained in the votes for the two proposals, citing concerns about ambiguities in the proposals.

“I still don’t feel prepared to make a decision on (them),” Davis said during the discussion of the two proposals at the meeting.

Bocarsly attended the meeting, along with his co-chief of staff Madison Murphy, USAC Financial Supports Commissioner Sahil Seth, Election Board vice chair Eena Singh and Taylor Bazley, co-chair of the new True Bruin slate.

El-Farra also brought up concerns about fully understanding Bocarsly’s proposal, which is why she chose to abstain in the vote for his proposal, she said.

El-Farra and Hasnain said at the meeting that with a new slate emerging and possible independent candidates running in the upcoming elections, endorsements may play a bigger role this year.

“We shouldn’t think of this in the mindset of last year when there were so many uncontested positions,” Hasnain said.

For USAC to adopt either proposed change to the election code, there needs to be a two-thirds vote, as stipulated by the USAC election code.

The council will vote on the two proposals tonight at 7 p.m. at its weekly meeting in Kerckhoff 417. Meetings are open to the public.

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Jillian Beck
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