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Possible delay in fall election as USAC election board chair fails to meet deadline

The Undergraduate Students Association Council held a special meeting with election board chair Kyana Shajari to address her lack of progress in making appointments to the board or officially editing the election code before July 30. (Liz Ketcham/Photo editor)

By Megan Son

August 11, 2019 11:26 pm

Undergraduate student officials addressed the election board’s failure to meet deadlines at a special meeting Wednesday.

The Undergraduate Students Association Council held a meeting Aug. 7 with election board chair and fourth-year psychology student Kyana Shajari to discuss her failure to fill spots on the USAC election board and approve election codes by July 30, a deadline set by the council in May. Council members discussed how the fall election timeline would be affected.

The fall special election will be held to fill two general representative seats as well as the Financial Supports Commission seat. No students ran for the positions in the 2019 spring election, which was also organized by Shajari.

Shajari did not respond to requests for comment.

Shajari’s reappointment as chair in May was contingent on her completing these tasks by July 30, said Naomi Riley, Academic Affairs commissioner and third-year political science student.

Robert Watson, USAC president and fourth-year political science student, said he is disappointed Shajari did not meet her deadline, but does not think it will cause a delay in the fall special election. He added that the council will speak with Shajari at the Aug. 14 meeting to ensure the missed deadline was a one-time mistake, rather than a larger issue.

“I don’t think this is a reason to worry about the fall quarter elections yet,” Watson said. “We’re watching the situation unfold and making sure (Shajari) feels comfortable being able to do her work in a timely matter.”

According to minutes from the Aug. 7 meeting, Shajari said she was unable to appoint any election board members or edit the election code due to studying for the LSAT, searching for a job and dealing with personal problems.

She said she sent out the application for election board on social media but received no responses. However, Shajari said she thinks fall election will go smoothly as long as qualified students apply.

Council members said they need Shajari to provide a concrete timeline for the election and election events, as well as communicate more with the council, according to the minutes. They also agreed to post election board applications on their offices’ social media accounts in order to raise awareness for the positions.

Shajari cited lack of publicity as the reason for low voter turnout and not having a full ballot in the spring 2019 election.

Council members discussed the possibility of having a backup election board chair at a July 31 meeting. After the special meeting, council members are now hoping Shajari will step up and fulfill her requirements because the fall election is time sensitive and the process of searching for another election board chair could take weeks, said Kimberly Bonifacio, internal vice president and fourth-year political science student.

Bonifacio said she is disappointed that Shajari has not made progress in the election code or in making appointments and said that she is concerned the fall special election may be delayed as a result.

The middle of fall quarter is the most realistic time to hold the election given the lack of progress in election board appointments and codes, Bonifacio added.

Riley said she thinks the council has been proactive in resolving the issue by holding a special meeting rather than waiting an extra week to speak to Shajari, and thinks the fall special election will run smoother than the past spring election as it is a smaller election.

Bonifacio said she thinks the special meeting significantly helped Shajari to understand her next steps as election board chair, including advertising for election board staff and meeting with administration.

“Council members calling for a special meeting really shows that we are serious about this,” Bonifacio said. “And we want to be able to work it out with (Shajari) and support her in any way possible for the election process to move forward and go smoothly.”

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Megan Son
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