Friday, December 12, 2008
Stuff I asked
There's a Judicial Council case floating around which I filed last Tuesday (and apparently being ruled on a week before the election). Despite rumors floating around, ASUC officials weren't the ones who asked the Judicial Council to rule on all-online elections. In retrospect, I probably should have requested an expedited hearing (there's not actually a hearing), but I wasn't expecting this timescale. Though I've noted to the ASUC two years in a row that they have no recall election procedures, the By-Laws remained silent on the issue, so I had to ask some questions:
1) Are physical polling places required by the Constitution for special elections? To me, the legal answer is easy. The Constitution describes requirements for polling places at dining halls, and makes no mention of such a requirement being specific to general elections. Given that the rule was written before online elections, when recall elections would have had to have physical polling locations, I don't think there's any legal basis to suggest that the requirements weren't meant to apply to special elections.
That said, I wouldn't be enormously surprised if the Judicial Council approved all-online elections. I think it would be legally wrong but politically expedient to do so. One could, perhaps, argue that since physical polling locations are logistically impossible, the only way to hold the recall is to put it all-online, putting the Constitution in violation of itself. Waiting until next semester to make the ruling may make this argument even more valid.
2) What if there were no Elections Council? For much of the Fall Semester, there is no Elections Council, but an election has to be run by an Elections Council. What if the recall had happened earlier? Even now, there's only part of an Elections Council. If the Constitution requires the ability to run elections through an Elections Council, does that mean the current practice, which leaves the Elections Council vacant for part of the year, is unconstitutional?
3) Are campaign rules applicable? I've argued that recalls aren't initiatives, and so the rules applying campaign regulations to the Primary Proponent/Opponent of an initiative don't really apply. If those roles are filled anyway, what happens if a campaign gets 5 censures? In propositions, if the Primary Proponent gets 5 censures, the proposition is disqualified. Opponents cannot be disqualified for getting 5 censures, which suggests that there are no meaningful campaign regulations on proposition opponents.
This is sensible enough. A proposition has to have organized proponents, and their proposition can be punished for their actions. Opponents of the proposition need not exist or be organized, and automatically passing a proposition without it actually getting the votes needed to pass doesn't make sense, since they haven't proposed anything to be disqualified.
But in a recall, could a side be disqualified? I suppose proponents could be disqualified (making the recall automatically fail) for the same reason as with propositions. Could the opponents be disqualified? If, in defending himself from recall, a Senator breaks a bunch of rules, could he be thrown out without a vote? It seems at least slightly reasonable.
4) When do we hear the results? If this were a regular election, we'd have to wait a week to wait for the good faith deadline for filing Judicial Council cases to pass. This requirement doesn't specify itself as being specific to regular elections, so maybe it applies to the recall, too.
5) Who's next in line? I've talked about this here, though I hadn't yet considered the third approach by the time I sent in the charge sheet.
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