The Arizona Desert Lamp

Changing Ballots in Midstream

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 11 March 2009

Idiocracy 2

As if there hadn’t already been enough elections madness for one year, the ballot itself has now been changed in media res:

Voters logging on to the student government’s Web site after yesterday afternoon to vote for the ASUA General Elections experienced something earlier voters had not – a changed ballot.

Shortly after a complaint by Presidential Candidate Shane Cathers to the ASUA Elections Commission, the wording under the area marked off for the presidential candidates was changed to make it more fair and unbiased, said Kenny Ho, Associated Students of the University of Arizona elections commissioner.

. . .

Ho said that it is protocol for a write-in candidate’s name to appear on the ballot, and that the Elections Code only states that a blank should be provided for a write-in candidate – not that the name should be absent altogether.

Protocol where? Ho cites no former ASUA cases, or any student government cases, in which the name of the write-in candidate appears on the ballot. None of the fifty states print the name of a write-in candidate on the ballot, nor does the federal government. It’s not even worth going through the rest of the world’s democracies, since the name “write-in” itself makes it very clear exactly what voters must do to make their vote count. If the Commission wanted to make Chris Nagata a “copy-paste” candidate, then they should have made that clear from the beginning.

It was not originally clear to the Elections Commission that the wording could be construed as biased, but now that the concerns have been brought to the organization’s attention, they believe they have done the right thing in changing the ballot, Ho said.

“We wanted it to be very generic,” he said. “We didn’t want it to sound like we were supporting any candidates.”

So, the Commission decided, to make sure that they don’t look like they’re biased, to just go ahead a print a write-in candidate’s name on the ballot (defeating the whole purpose), and, what’s more, provide step-by-step instructions to make sure that nobody voting for Nagata messes up their vote. Is that about right?

There is a silver lining to this story, though; we’re not just two voices crying in the wilderness anymore. From the Wildcat‘s editorial desk:

We should note that, based on extended interviews with both candidates, our recommendation for president was write-in candidate Nagata. Despite our support for him, we’re incensed that his candidacy would be handled so poorly by whoever was responsible for drafting the ballot, presumably election commissioner Ho.

Given that the signatures he collected were, in the judgment of the elections commissioner, inadequate to get him on the ballot, Nagata’s name should not appear. The construction of this year’s ballot implies an unacceptable bias in favor of Nagata on the part of current ASUA leadership

. . .

Those involved with ASUA constantly argue that the organization is relevant to today’s students, and in all fairness, many of their actions have an impact on our lives. However, these student leaders are being paid for their service and serve in our name, and as students we must demand that their selection is fair, clear and open. Of all of the campus organizations with which we are familiar, none has election procedures as Byzantine and corrupt as those of our student government.

. . .

The root of these continuing problems can only be that elections are entrusted to an all-powerful elections commissioner, with absolute discretion over not only the conduct of the election itself, but also the very code that governs the election and his own position,

Given the gross malfeasance that has characterized this election, we call for an immediate end to balloting, and for the scheduling of a special election to take its place, to be held under new supervision.

Further, we call on the ASUA Senate to immediately undertake the enactment of an amendment to the ASUA Constitution placing the elections code under the direct supervision of the senate, and for the enactment of a new code after adequate input from the student body.

Really, you should read the whole thing. I’m not exactly sure how this matches up with their positively fawning endorsements yesterday, but it’s good to see another media outlet speaking truth to “smooth elections.”


8 Responses

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  1. Dave said, on 11 March 2009 at 10:13 am

    lol Kenny Ho, more like Kenny Ho-bbled the election

  2. A. Hill said, on 11 March 2009 at 11:46 am


    glad i’m graduating.

  3. Jimi Alexander said, on 11 March 2009 at 11:55 am

    I’ve never seen elections more bungled and skewed in my life. My elementary school ran elections better, for God’s sake.

    I think the current election’s results need to be accepted as indicated, but Ho and his Elections Commission clique need to be scrapped, or at least formally reprimanded by the Senate for making ASUA look very much like a collection of fools. I support the Wildcat’s call for what amounts to dissolution of the EC in favor of placing it under control of the Senate.

    And on another note, why is the Wildcat up in arms about Nagata’s name on the ballot but completely ignoring the issue of a heavily slanted PIRG question?

  4. Dave said, on 11 March 2009 at 12:26 pm

    More like Kenny Ho-w could I screw the election up more?

  5. A. Hill said, on 11 March 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Kenny Ho-pe you didn’t want a fair election?

  6. Dave said, on 11 March 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Kenny Ho-rrible commissioner

  7. Ben Kalafut said, on 12 March 2009 at 1:19 am

    I think if Frito Pendejo from the picture were put in charge of elections things would have run more smoothly. And now that I think of it, Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho would have been the perfect write-in.

  8. […] set by the OSCE for free elections? Can you point to any other moment in ASUA history when ballots were changed during an election? For all your paeans to openness, do you plan on doing anything about the fact […]

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