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Ruling states Election Board has no authority in unpaid media coverage

By Tala Ahmadi

May 27, 2014 2:23 p.m.

The undergraduate student government Judicial Board ruled Tuesday that the Election Board does not have jurisdiction in non-paid media election coverage, but it can inform candidates about possible sanctions related to non-paid media appearances.

The decision ends a nearly month-long case brought by the Daily Bruin against the Undergraduate Students Association Council Election Board that challenged whether the board had the authority to tell USAC candidates they would be subject to sanctions if they appeared on a Daily Bruin radio show while running for office earlier this month.

During the USAC election, the Election Board is responsible for sanctioning candidates for breaking various rules laid out in the election code. For some violations, sanctions include barring a candidate or multiple candidates from on-campus or online campaigning for a set amount of time. The board also has the power to disqualify candidates from the election if they break certain rules.

The USAC Judicial Board held a hearing for the case on May 19, where both parties were allowed to present their sides of the argument and called witnesses, including USAC candidates, Election Board members and Daily Bruin staff, to the stand.

The Election Board argued that it is allowed to inform candidates about any possible sanctions they may be subject to and that candidates are subject to any action it takes during the election period. Board members also said they think there was a miscommunication about the contents of the Daily Bruin radio show, which they initially thought would constitute a debate.

According to the election code, only the Election Board has jurisdiction over debates in the election.

At the hearing, Daily Bruin Opinion Editor Eitan Arom, said he thinks the Election Board censored the paper and prevented the radio segment from happening by making USAC candidates believe they would be sanctioned.

Arom added that he thinks the board mistakenly characterized the candidates appearance on the show as a debate because there would have been no interaction between the candidates during the course of the show.

The Judicial Board ruled that the Election Board was within its rights to warn candidates about potential sanctions but added that the board did not communicate clearly with the candidates.

This was one of two cases filed against the Election Board during this year’s USAC election period.

Compiled by Tala Ahmadi, Bruin contributor.

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