Wednesday, April 22, 2009
More drop-shaped fun
Oscar Mariena has filed suit against the Elections Council in the Judicial Council in order to prevent them from retabulating votes after Student Action drops Arya Shirazi. As you might suspect, this would take the seat away from CalSERVE's Viola Tang and give it to Matt Samuels.
There's an advisory opinion (PDF) exactly on point that rejects his claims, and CalSERVE did nothing about the By-Laws in the year since that advisory opinion was issued. Now, however, it's suddenly very important that the By-Laws be interpreted in a different way that just happens to give them another seat in the Senate, even though they couldn't be bothered to actually change the By-Laws to reflect the "correct" interpretation. Good show, CalSERVE. Next time, you might have more luck getting Senate seats by getting more votes, rather than pulling arguments out of your ass for why the procedure should be retroactively changed. Student Action beat CalSERVE by well over 1000 votes in Senate races, and deserves that extra seat.
(This is, by the way, an excellent benefit of Alex Kozak filing that advisory opinion before the election results. He got a decision separate from a particular instance of political conflict so folks couldn't figure out which side they should be on)
The first argument is that only disqualification triggers retabulation.
ASUC By-Laws, Title 4, Article 15, articulate a detailed procedure for the tallying of votes. They clearly outline the disqualification of a candidate as the only reason for which a retabulation of votes may occur. Besides telling me that Oscar doesn't know the difference between implication and equivalence, this statement has no informational content. The most casual reading of that By-Law shows that it provides a sufficient condition, not a necessary one. While he goes on to say:
"If any candidates should be disqualified following the preliminary tabulation, a second and final ballot tabulation will commence following all decisions and settlements of lawsuits regarding elections by the Judicial Council." (§4.15.2).
This clause establishes the disqualification of a candidate following preliminary tabulation as the necessary condition for triggering subsequent tabulations. In other words, votes may be retabulated if and only if a candidate is disqualified from his/her position.
No reading of the By-Laws or Constitution provides for a retabulation of votes in any other case.one could just as easily note that no reading of the By-Laws or Constitution prohibits a retabulation of votes in any other case, either. (This is the difference between something being necessary and being sufficient) In any case, at least one reading allows retabulation for another case, and that's the reading the Judicial Council used last year in their Advisory Opinion. The AO is nonbinding, but all parties acted under the understanding that it existed, which means that Student Action had good reason to believe that they could wait until after tabulation to do their drops. To change the rules retroactively would be far more unfair.
(Interestingly, though Mairena quotes this advisory opinion on the topic of when candidates can drop, he doesn't mention that it directly contradicts his argument about retabulations. This means he doesn't give the Judicial Council a reason to reverse its opinion on that topic)
Mairena also takes the position that drops in the middle of executing the algorithm are allowed, despite the complete absence of any indication that such a process is allowed in the By-Law description of the algorithm. His refusal to read the By-Laws as allowing things not mentioned in the retabulation section apparently doesn't preclude him from reading the By-Laws as allowing things not mentioned in the algorithm.
When a losing candidate withdraws after results have already been tabulated, it can only be done with the intention of manipulating votes in order to alter the results of the election. Council should not allow the will of the voters to be subverted by a withdrawal tendered in bad faith.What makes this bad faith? CalSERVE dropped candidates, too. Are they manipulating votes? Doesn't the fact that they run candidates that they have no intention of seeing in office mean they are manipulating the votes in order to alter the results of the election, too? How much difference does the fact that they drop while ignorant make?
I see no reason why dropping candidates to change the result is somehow wrong. The votes are there, and no one's vote is going to someone they don't vote for. In fact, I expect voters would prefer that candidates drop in order to allow their transferred votes to affect the election.
In fact, this whole case is post-hoc political manipulation. Oscar was a Senator for a whole year while the advisory opinion explained the drop mechanism. He made no effort to change the By-Laws to fix any problems he perceived. He now is acting in bad faith to a much greater extent than Student Action is.
Even if he wins this case, won't Shirazi just break some campaign rules, get sued by Student Action, settle for disqualification, and trigger the retabulation anyway?
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