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Nap Time!!!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Let's see...
You're probably itching to know the identity of the surprise guests, but much as we'd love to spill, it would be downright unkind to reveal the details.
says a newspaper. (If you are itching to know their identity, it's the Counting Crows) I see The Daily Cal is in the business of keeping secrets and not providing information to its readers.

I'll also note they declined to join me in requesting election results information from the ASUC because they wanted to cover the story. (You can bet they'll still publish that information if I do all the work to make it available) I shudder to think of how these so-called journalists will react when they need to make FOIA requests to get the story.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/03/2008 06:25:00 PM #
Comments (8)
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So I'm assuming you endorsed McCain because you identify with him as a 72-year-old man.
Sorry dude, gotta disagree with you. I'd interpret the FOI clause of the constitution to require the vote files be released AFTER the file is certified as legit. That's when they become official. Until then the Judicial Council hasn't verified their legitimacy and it's really the elections council's word alone that says they're legit, which is not the same as the full faith and credit of the ASUC saying they're "official."
Pretty much every ASUC "official" document relies on someone's word to be legit. And sometimes it isn't.

Given that the ASUC engages in a public vote tabulation using these files, where candidates are dropped and all, I think it certainly counts as official. The tabulation itself is required in the By-Laws, and is conducted publicly, and I have a hard time seeing it as "not official." Whether or not the vote is certified is a different issue. The minutes function much the same way, and even when the minutes are wrong, the ASUC never changes them, only notes the correction in the next minutes.

After the Senate created the preliminary tabulation before certification, I don't think your interpretation holds up any more. This is especially true since the initial vote count becomes the final vote count if nobody gets disqualified.
There's a process by which things become "official" which usually involves some form of reviewing a draft or a record or some such, and then approving it as accurate, legitimate, etc. The senate minutes aren't official because Litwak says they are (is he still around?). They become official when the senate reviews and approves them. Council decisions weren't released after I drafted them because the council hadn't approved them and verified their authenticity. Ballots aren't official until the Council comes in and verifies that they were collected properly, that they haven't been tampered with, etc etc etc. What makes a record or a document official isn't how, or by whom, or what's done with it once it's been generated. What makes it official is that it is declared to be so by a verifying official with the authority to do so. In this case, the Judicial Council is the verifying official that certifies that the ballot collection was legitimate, and only after this happens can the ballots be considered official records.

That this happens AFTER those ballots have been publicly tabulated might not makes sense (i agree that it doesn't), but that doesn't mean that they become official because the Senate has created a goofy wrinkle in the bylaws.

I should also note I'm going off what I remember of the bylaws, which may well have changed since I...ahem...left. Back in the day, we certified the "election." Not the tabulation or the ballot collection or anything in specific, just the whole kit and kaboodle. We NEVER certified the election as official until the ballots had been tabulated, and until we certified, NOTHING was set in stone. NOTHING was official, even marked up ballots.
I think we differ significantly on what we mean by official, then. If votes and ballots are never official, then there is no official record of the votes, and the election functions as a black box, and we can only get information if the ASUC feels like releasing it. If we can't get access to the information until the vote is certified, then there is no recourse no matter what discrepancies we see in the information.

Because of this, just because the Judicial Council certifies the election doesn't mean that things related to the election are only official when the Judicial Council says so. Other information, like votes, can be official information regardless of whether those votes are the ones used in the final, certified election.

In other words, the Judicial Council never certifies the ballots themselves, they certify the election results. The ballots are still official information.
Ok, lets go with that. If I'm the Election Council and I hand you a stack of paper and say they're official ballots...how do you really know they are? Checks and balances demand you do due dilligence to verify what you've been told. You go through and investigate and make sure there was a clear chain of custody from the time a ballot was printed, to when it was voted on, to when it was collected and counted.

Now, who are you, exactly? What gives you the authority to investigate that custody of the ballots and the authority to determine if how they were collected and counted was legal? You have to get that authority from somewhere, it doesn't just exist for any Tom, Dick or Harry. In the ASUC, it's the Judicial Council that has that authority.

It's not that the votes where never official, it's that they don't become official until someone with the authority and the ability to say they are comes out and uses their authority to establish them as official.

The truth of the matter is you don't really know what is an official ballot and what isn't until the folks with the statutory responsibility for determining what is official have told you what is and what isn't. Once this happens, any Tom, Dick or Harry is perfectly free to review that decision and the evidence it was based on, but you are wholly out of bounds to place yourself in the position of de facto determining what is official and what isn't when you have no statutory authority, no designation by the students themselves, to do so.

I get that this is uncomfortable for a group of folks that is so prone to corruption, but that doesn't change the way the system is set up. The system is designed to have a draft, predecisional documents and an institution to enforce them. If you don't like the enforcement, the Constitution allows you to petition the ASUC to air your complaint, and gives you the ability to collect evidence to substantiate your claim. It DOES NOT provide you the ability to obtain documents when have not yet been acted upon by an institution using their official authority.
I understand what you're saying, and that likely makes some of my argument incorrect, but on what basis can the ASUC do a By-Law required, officially-run preliminary vote tabulation without official information to do so?

I think the files that will be used to run that tabulation are official information, even if they are not officially the record of the votes at that point. That is, I think they are officially the information that will be used for the preliminary tabulation. Officials can declare that the files are the official files used to perform the tabulation, which occurs without Judicial Council authorization. I don't see a basis for suggesting that the Judicial Council declares the preliminary tabulation official.

In any case, you may very well be right about this, but the By-Laws seem to be written backwards, then, as the Judicial Council only certifies the results after everything has occurred, and they rely on others to perform investigations to raise issues that may question the results, but don't authorize the release of information that would be used to perform those investigations. Parties are supposed to be able to provide observers to view all ballot handling operations, but since it all takes place in a computer now, they don't even have that. I guess it wouldn't be the first time.
To quote from above:

"That this happens AFTER those ballots have been publicly tabulated might not makes sense (i agree that it doesn't), but that doesn't mean that they become official because the Senate has created a goofy wrinkle in the bylaws."

Just because they get used for some purpose doesn't make them official. Perhaps they should be official before anything is tabulated, but their being used by an organ of the ASUC (in this case the Election Council) doesn't make them official. They become official when the organ that declares officialdom doth their declaring complete. After that delcaration, parties and individual students are welcome to review the decision (and get ahold of the ballot information), but before an official decision is reached the ASUC is not required to make such information available.

Or at least it used to, I don't know if the rules have changed since then (ie who has the authority to certify and what they must determine before the certification can be issued). And I certainly don't know how an inexperienced judicial council will come down on the matter.
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