Saturday, July 29, 2006
With the election essentially over, and no imminent flipping out, it's time for me to bitch about the election as a whole, and point out the gaping flaws in the election procedure as it stands. Each problem comes with a summary, an explanation of whose job it is, and why it will never be solved (because it's the ASUC).
1. University domination of ASUC elections
The university used its vast resources this year to push the RSF referendum. This included using university-maintained e-mail lists to send e-mails, with links to the election website, to the students most likely to vote for the referendum, encouraging them to do so. There is really nothing stopping the university from doing this next year, and they can just as easily support a particular candidate in future elections, and the ASUC will be powerless to stop it, since the university wouldn't technically be part of its beneficiary's campaign.
Dude whose job it is to solve: The ASUC president, mostly. Since the ASUC has no real sway over the university, if this problem was to be solved, it would have to be done through some kind of agreement between the ASUC and the university, which would probably come through the president.
Why it will never be solved: The university, as a matter of practicality, will only really push issues that it has worked with the Senate and executives on, since it can veto anything it wants to, and initiatives don't get done around campus. Thus, the Senate and executives have no reason to make their resume-boosting harder.
2. Gaping holes in the election bylaws
The election bylaws are far from complete. The first obvious example is the lack of any reference as to how referendums should be presented on the ballot (i.e. abstain option or not, what order should the choices be, etc.), despite detailed instructions for the candidate elections. This leads to problems such as majority-abstain elections. The other obvious example is the lack of a described punishment for an entire section of campaign violations (13.6), which Igor suggested occurred because senators simply forgot to put it in.
Dude whose job it is to solve: The ASUC Senate, since they write the bylaws.
Why it will never be solved: Because the Senate is lazy, and maintaining the rules isn't nearly as glamorous as handing out money. If someone gets it in their head to actually take care of it, this might be done.
3. Bribing voters
Voters get stuff. Is there really any meaning to improving voter turnout if you're doing it artificially by bringing folks to the polls because they want free stuff, rather than because they want a say in the ASUC?
Dude whose job it is to solve: The ASUC Senate.
Why it will never be solved: If you bring voters to the polls who aren't really informed, they'll just vote for whoever shouted the loudest. That's going to be the major parties, who control the ASUC Senate. They won't want to cut into their base.
4. Easy passage of governmental overhaul
An amendment restructuring the ASUC completely can pass with 30% of the vote. There is no burden on proponents to show support in the student body, they merely need to show a lack of opposition.
Dude whose job it is to solve: The ASUC Senate, and the voters (via Constitutional amendment, ironically enough).
Why it will never be solved: Since the Senate can control the wording, passing stupid propositions can be done simply by obscuring them from the vast majority of the voters. This makes their goals easier to achieve.
5. Treating the Judicial Council as a trial court
Currently, the Judicial Council rules are modeled, somewhat, after civil trial courts attached to real governments. I think this is inappropriate, considering its job. It doesn't send people to jail, or fine them, or whatnot. It resolves disputes about the rules internally, and the vast body of rules which protects people from government punishment of citizens seems misplaced when it comes to internal government remedies. (Note, this is more directed towards internal disputes such as the legitimacy of ballot questions and validity of the passage of votes than towards things like campaign violations and student group discrimination accusations, where such protections make sense)
Dude whose job it is to solve: The Judicial Council, and the ASUC senate, by changing the JRPs. (Potentially also changing some of the Constitution, so throw the voters in)
Why it will never be solved: Probably because most folks won't agree with me, and no one will want to stir the pot as the person who wants to "take away rights," regardless of how ridiculous that suggestion is in the context of government actors.
6. Punishment of perjury in elections violation cases
According to the last ruling, the Judicial Council found that it could not issue censures punishing candidates for perjury directly. I'm not entirely sure this is the correct interpretation, but if that's the case, then the bylaws need to be changed to allow this, unless we want candidates to lie their asses off whenever charged with a campaign violation.
Dude whose job it is to solve: The Senate.
Why it will never be solved: The Senate just doesn't like the Judicial Council. It stops them from doing whatever the hell they want. And since the major parties don't accuse each other of campaign violations, they wouldn't stand to benefit and could potentially suffer.
From Bobby Gregg:
7. NOBODY UPDATED THE GOD DAMN BY-LAWS THIS SEMESTER!!!!
How the HELL did ConReview forget to do this? Remember, during the Elections Council campaign rules seminar, they had to pass out Title IV and a Senate Bill that modified it, because the updates had not been incorporated into the By-Laws. I understand that this is partly the fault of Solicitor General Ben Brown, who apparently did absolutely nothing this year and was still paid over a thousand in stipend.
There are probably others folks can think of.
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