USAC approves changes to election code aimed at fairness, transparency
Council members voted to amend the election code to make the USAC Election Board respond more quickly to complaints and randomize ballots. (Daily Bruin file photo)
May 11, 2016 12:52 am
The undergraduate student government voted Tuesday to require next year’s USAC Election Board to respond more quickly to complaints and randomize the order of candidates’ names on the undergraduate student election ballot.
Members of the Constitutional Review Committee presented to the council Tuesday night. They recommended the election board revise the USAC Election Code to mandate the board to respond to campaign violation complaints within 24 hours. Facilities commissioner Ian Cocroft said he thinks faster responses would make the election board more transparent.
CRC members also suggested that election board randomize candidates’ order on the ballot, which Cocroft said would make the process more fair for all candidates. CRC, a committee tasked with suggesting changes to the USAC bylaws, proposed the changes to the election board Tuesday afternoon.
Council members approved switching to a randomized ballot in an 11-0-1 vote, and voted unanimously to mandate the election board respond to complaints within 24 hours.
Cocroft, chair of the CRC, said he thinks candidates whose names appear near the top of the ballot have an unfair advantage. In past elections, candidates’ names appeared in the same order on ballots for all students.
USAC Election Board Chair Lindsay Allen said she met with representatives from MyUCLA, which hosts the ballot, a few months ago to see if it would be possible to randomize the ballot for each student. She concluded it would not be possible under the election board’s current budget.
Allen added creating a randomized ballot would cost about $18,000, and running it would cost even more. This year, the ballot cost $6,000 to run, but randomized ballots cost more because they would require additional server space, she added.
Cocroft said he recognizes having a randomized ballot could increase costs, but he thinks next year’s council should consider increasing the election board’s budget to accommodate the switch.
The committee also recommended the election board respond to campaign violations within 24 hours. Cocroft said the voting period is limited, so campaign violations should be resolved as quickly as possible. He added he did not propose the change in response to any issues this year.
Suman Padhi, Election Board Investigations Committee director, said this year’s election board responded to all but one complaint within 24 hours.
Cultural Affairs commissioner Amy Shao said she thinks 24 hours is not enough time for the election board to thoroughly investigate violations. She added she thinks it may take longer to thoroughly analyze an issue.
Changes to the election code will be implemented Tuesday, but will not manifest until next year’s election cycle.