The Arizona Desert Lamp

Us like suffocating regulation on Bizarro World!

Posted in Campus, Politics by Connor Mendenhall on 18 February 2009

Today’s Wildcat reports on Stephen Wallace, Rhonda Tubbs, and potential elections code violations among this year’s student government officials (topics that Evan was on top of three, four, and seventy-six days ago, respectively). But a letter published pages later makes me wonder if there’s one more they missed. From the mailbag, a message from Chris Nagata, write-in candidate for ASUA president:

I want to take this opportunity to clarify my situation as being the write-in Associated Students of the University of Arizona Presidential Candidate. During the petition process, I secured what I thought would be more than enough signatures to qualify as a candidate eligible for the primaries. However, due to illegible names, student number errors and duplications, unfortunately the number of signatures I submitted was not sufficient.

Having said that, I would like to commend the elections commission and ASUA for diligently reviewing each petition to ensure a fair election for all candidates. I firmly believe and will uphold myself to an honest and democratic election process. Although the predicament I find myself in places me behind the eight ball with much ground to make up, I’m extremely excited and will be fully prepared to participate in the general elections.

If elected as your student body president, I look forward to confronting the budget crisis and other looming challenges. I whole-heartedly believe in the power of students. As a passionate, student driven leader, I look forward to sharing my vision and goals for how to improve this university with the student body in the very near future.

Chris Nagata
physiology senior

The “predicament” Nagata references is that he is banned from campaigning until one week before the March 10 general election, according to the rules of the elections code–or at least, the elections commissioner.  Nowhere in the code proper [pdf] is there any prohibition against a write-in candidate campaigning in the primaries along with everyone else, save maybe for section 5-3.01, which says campaigns “shall not begin before the dates established by the Elections Commissioner.” It seems it’s only the edict of Kenny Ho keeping Nagata from launching his bid for president. And this letter might even be a violation in itself: that last paragraph sure looks like early campaigning to me.

Problem is, there’s no way to know. Although many sections of the elections code are thickets of restrictive regulation, many others give the Elections Commissioner broad authority to interpret the written rules and make up new, unwritten ones. As if penned by John Adams in Bizarro World, it’s government of men and not of laws, unless they’re bizarro ones.

Incidentally, this problem would never have happened were there sane signature requirements for candidacy. Last year, no primary was necessary for ASUA’s executive positions: President Tommy Bruce ran unopposed for re-election, and there were only two contenders each for the executive and administrative vice-president spots. This year, the candidates barely qualified at all. Only one candidate met the requirements to secure a place on the ballot as a presidential candidate. Nobody qualified to run for administrative vice-president! If this doesn’t suggest that it’s time to scrap the elections code, I don’t know what will.

[EDIT: Let me be clear on something: though there may be a case for Stephen Wallace eating his vote, I hope neither he nor Nagata are punished for breaking rules that are silly in the first place–least because it would leave us with only one candidate for president.]

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  1. […] in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on February 18th, 2009 Connor has already covered most of this (the first violation, in case you missed it, was here); yet in addition to Mr. Nagata’s […]

  2. […] in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on February 18th, 2009 Connor has already covered most of this (the first violation, in case you missed it, was here); yet in addition to Mr. Nagata’s […]

  3. […] two very respectable, smart guys. They do a bunch of great work, especially lately, acting as the watchdog of campus affairs – ASUA, the looming budget cuts in Arizona, and everything related. I often […]

  4. […] the shortage of candidates running for executive positions (protip: pretend you’re in Belarus as you vote for the only […]

  5. […] Connor Mendenhall on March 11th, 2009 When I suggested our elections regulations were written in Bizarro World, I did so half in jest. But as the tragicomic reign of elections commissioner Kenny Ho draws to a […]


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