The Arizona Desert Lamp

Election irregularities to slip by over spring break?

Posted in Campus, Politics by Connor Mendenhall on 15 March 2009

This week’s spring break revelry may obliterate more than brain cells: there’s every indication that concern over this year’s biased ballots will be wiped away as cleanly as the last hours of a bad Cuervo bender by the time students come back to campus.

The ASUA elections commission wrapped up last week’s student government elections without reference to election irregularities that included a ballot question apparently written by its own sponsors, the appearance of write-in candidate Chris Nagata’s name directly above the “write-in” blank, and Elections Commissioner Kenny Ho’s decision to alter ballots during open voting in response to a complaint from presidential candidate Shane Cathers.

Although ASUA president Tommy Bruce gave an oblique response to the Wildcat‘s call for a special election under new supervision, Ho has yet to offer any public reply to concerns about the legitimacy of the election he managed, and student government officials are accepting the results and carrying on as usual.

“The elections commission will consider the results legitimate,” said sitting ASUA senator and Executive Vice-President elect Emily Fritze via email Friday. “Their reasoning is that there was no violation of the elections code. The only way that the results could possibly change would be if Mr. Cathers was to file a complaint with the Supreme Court.”

Nor are there any plans to remove Ho from office, says Fritze, though the Senate will likely review the elections code in the coming month. “Commissioner Ho dealt with something new in nature: no precedent of online voting for write-in candidates,” wrote Fritze. “The Senate will be revising and clarifying this section to address the write in instructions for online ballots.”

Presidential candidate Cathers, who received just 17 percent of last week’s vote, is concerned by the results but appears unlikely to appeal. “It is troubling that there was even a need to request a change on the ballot,” he said Friday. “Additionally, it is troubling that the ballot, which should be incontestably unbiased, could be considered biased by any person.”

But as for taking student government to task, it looks like Cathers is relying on students themselves. Asked if he supported a special election, Cathers told us “if the students feel that their government is not acting in the best interest of democracy or contrary to the genuine representation and values of themselves as a whole, then the students have the right to hold their government accountable and demand change.” He did not indicate that he is considering another complaint to the elections commission or an appeal to the ASUA Supreme Court.

Elections Commissioner Kenny Ho and candidate Chris Nagata have not yet responded to requests for comment.

Our own informal poll shows that our readers overwhelmingly reject the legitimacy of this election. But without a challenge from Cathers or further calls for a new election from the Wildcat,  it appears that ASUA will make no attempt to fix this flawed election after spring break.

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2 Responses

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  1. I'm just a hustla, you just a customa said, on 20 March 2009 at 8:12 pm

    Shane should not leave it for someone else to try and pressure ASUA. In order for there to be a true case, the person with a vested interest at stake must make a claim of wrongdoing. There is obviously grounds to do so, but Shane’s reluctance makes it easy for Bruce and Ho to sweep this under the mat. Unfortunately for Shane Cathers, it seems like the results (despite coming from irregular ballots) spoke louder to him than anyone else. I mean, almost as many people voted N/A as they did for him. If the students want to reform the elections, they must pressure ASUA to do so. However, if this election is to be scrapped for a new one on the basis that the ballot irregularities affected the outcome, you are going to have to convince the one person who probably knows he was not going to win anyway.

  2. […] Mendenhall on March 24th, 2009 My fears that this year’s election incompetencies might fade into oblivion are assuaged a bit by today’s Wildcat, which comes out swinging against student government. […]


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