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Nap Time!!!

Saturday, July 08, 2006
Oh, right, the hearing

I went to Ben Narodick's hearing in the Judicial Council against the GA referendum today. Blah blah stuff stuff. Attorney General Nathan Royer stole the show with his commentary.

His fundamental point was the same as mine: If you go by the letter of the law, the Elections Council acted properly, and Ben doesn't have a case. If you go by the spirit of the law, Ben is absolutely right that the GA referendum did not pass.

Personally, I'm a letter-of-the-law guy, which is why I think Ben should lose the case. I think nebulous concepts such as "spirit of the law" put the Judicial Council in a position with too much power, even when it's clear-cut, like in this case.

Nathan admitted that the Senate and GA shoved the GA referendum through without enough time for Nathan to properly demand an appropriate question. I think he admitted that the question, as written, was inadequate.

In some sense, I'm to blame for Ben's weaker case. Because my case was kind of haphazard (it was my first case), the question of bias was already resolved before the election. Had I known about how Nathan had been pressured, that case might have gone differently.

Ben's suggested remedy is a revote in the fall without the "abstain" option. There are significant Constitutional problems with this, but Ben's case basically asserted that "a vote to abstain" and "not voting" are different, and should be counted seperately. In particular, "a vote to abstain" should increase the total number of votes to pass the constitutional amendment by .6 of a vote, while a "non-vote" wouldn't affect it. Again, this is probably the spirit of the law, but it doesn't follow the letter.

Nathan Royer quotes:

"Ben is one of the three intelligent people in the ASUC."

blah blah spirit of the law- "although it is rarely upheld in this Association..."

In excusing his approval, we see that GA threats and bullying has affected the willingness of the Attorney General to do his job. His response to the ridiculously vague ballot question:

"I'm not happy about this [the referendum as presented to him], but I'm not going to be demonized for 'disenfranchising students' by shooting this down."

I can absolutely sympathize with Nathan. The GA is like a childish harpy that starts screeching whenever things don't go its way, and the Senate usually plays along. I suppose the whiners should be proud that they have intimidated officials into not doing their jobs.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/08/2006 12:29:00 AM #
Comments (6)
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"'a vote to abstain' and 'not voting' are different, and should be counted seperately."

I don't the context, but whatever it is, that's just plain wrong and can't be. Abstaining is NEVER a vote. If a measure requires a majority of a total population, etc., then yes, an absention has the effect of a vote, but it's still not a vote! You can't differentiate between "abstain" and "no vote"; that's just throwing parliamentary principles out the window.
If the total population is "all the voters," then "a vote to abstain" increases that population because it indicates a "voter."
If the total population is "all the voters," then "a vote to abstain" increases that population because it indicates a "voter."

Yeah, which is why a vote to abstain is a myth.

A majority of THOSE VOTING requirement is very common and the ENTIRE POINT is to only require a majority of THOSE VOTING; abstentions are not votes! If you want a measure to fail you vote "NO"; if you don't vote, you don't vote.

this is super basic stuff

ben should go check out robert's rules or something
While you would be right in almost all instances of the use of the vote "abstain", it is my understanding that for the purposes of this election a vote to abstain did in fact increase the voting population - and that was the problem. I don't know why they did it that way (perhaps to make it more likely that the referendum would pass?), but they did, and so Ben's argument is dead on.
Am I wrong in saying that abstentions were counted in the total votes column for the purpose of reaching the minimum votes needed to approve a constitutional amendment? If so, then the question should be voided for insufficient votes cast.
There isn't a minimum number of votes for a constitutional amendment. There probably should be, but good luck getting the ASUC Senate to do something like that.
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