The Arizona Desert Lamp

Bizarro! I’m helping! I’m helping YOU!

Posted in Culture, Politics, Uncategorized by Connor Mendenhall on 11 March 2009

Bizarro!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 close, it feels more and more like the procedures of student government are being administered by Turtleface.

Today, the Daily Wildcat editorial board called the response to this year’s passel of election irregularities “gross malfeasance,” and called for “an immediate end to balloting, and for the scheduling of a special election to take its place, to be held under new supervision.” Allow me to second that call.

I’m not convinced that the elections commission was conscious of any bias when they wrote the ballot, and I imagine that they really did think they were helping with today’s intervention–such is the nature of the student government echo chamber. Indeed, as far as I can tell, Kenny Ho is a genuinely nice guy and earnest administrator who just doesn’t grasp the basic procedures of free and fair elections or rule of law. But giving a reasonably identical ballot to all voters, and refraining from intervention to change the ballot midway is one such basic procedure–and I don’t see how the commission can uphold any claim to legitimacy now that they’ve tampered with the ballots.

Not to mention the other fundamentals of democratic procedure that are sorely lacking in our system of student government. A glance at the guidelines of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions, which watches elections in the Balkans and eastern Europe, shows that we don’t even meet many of the minimum requirements for a legitimate system:

Respect the right to establish political parties.

Unfortunately, stringent regulations on campaign materials and displays prevent the formation of any viable political party system on campus.

Those responsible for violations of law should be held accountable in a timely

Not here: when the commissioner discovered year-old violations of the elections code by sitting officials, he told us “I really don’t see it as a big deal.”

The role of the Central Elections Commission (CEC) in connection with the issuing of detailed instructions should be clearly understood. The role of the CEC is not to act as a substitute legislator, but to respond to occurring needs for clarification by way of interpreting and supplementing the election regulations.

Election legislation should be stated in objective language. Interpretation of
election legislation should not be a matter of subjective opinion.

Nope. Our elections commissioner is granted the power to issue “final interpretation” of the code according to his own subjective opinion, and broad discretion on ballot design, the initiative and referendum process, finance reporting requirements, and the election timeline.

All election-related laws should be implemented and enforced non-selectively.

Sorry–when our elections commission doesn’t get what it wants, it changes the rules, as it did this year by extending the deadline to collect signatures for a campus referendum designed to benefit an organization with offices in ASUA!

The authority and process for [elections officials] to issue instructions in emergency
situations or on Election Day must be clearly stated and defined in the
electoral legislation.

Well, it seems we’re learning the value of this norm the hard way.

Ultimately, the legitimacy of any election rests with the voters who participate. So let us know either in this post or in our sidebar: if ASUA declines to call a new special election from scratch, will you consider today’s results legitimate?

Title allusion and Turtleface reference dispassionately dissected here. Enjoyable here in English and here in Spanish Portuguese, which is twice thrice as funny.


11 Responses

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  1. Jimi Alexander said, on 11 March 2009 at 4:56 pm

    As crazy an election as we’ve had, if it isn’t supplemented with a special election…I think the results are still legitimate. However, this is definitely a lesson that ASUA cannot afford to ignore. This is my freshman year, and I can say that “my” student government has made close to the worst first impression it could possibly make.

  2. Dave said, on 11 March 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Just wait until the president sexually harasses two senators or a cabal of senators plot to overthrow their president.

  3. student said, on 11 March 2009 at 8:06 pm

    I like how you complain about the PIRG phrasing of a question, then present your own biased question in your own poll. Way to go hypocrite.

  4. Evan Lisull said, on 11 March 2009 at 8:41 pm

    The difference, of course, is that the answers to our question have no consequences; PIRG’s, however, will take $4 from students, if it is answered in the affirmative.

  5. […] a write-in candidate’s name was printed on the ballot? When will ASUA elections meet the minimum standards set by the OSCE for free elections? Can you point to any other moment in ASUA history when ballots were changed during an election? […]

  6. […] forward to working with your organization.” This year, of course, the Elections Commission is helping; and so, while the memory of Rhonda Tubbs, who was punished after her supporters wore campaign […]

  7. […] own informal poll shows that our readers overwhelmingly reject the legitimacy of this election. But without a […]

  8. […] debate got even more bizarro when it came time for the Senate by-law changes. Remember, these are the changes brought in by the […]

  9. […] far too little about their decision-making mindset  – which is exactly what one should expect of a bizarro government. Save the lovefest for soliloquies at Frog & Firkin, and, like your legislative […]

  10. […] don’t say? What kind of issues might those be? ASU political science professor Valerie Hoekstra, who has […]

  11. […] stands in full violation of the Code. But since ASUA operates not by rule of law, but by rule of BIZARRO, Senator Yamaguchi, like his Code-violating colleague Senator Atjian, will escape with nothing more […]

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