The Arizona Desert Lamp

Never gonna give you up

Posted in Campus, Politics by Connor Mendenhall on 24 March 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. From the editorial:

In the real world, it’s called election fraud. At the UA, it’s just business as usual.

The Associated Students of the University of Arizona must have heaved one collective sigh of relief when their two-day elections were immediately followed by spring break. Surely a long, leisurely week away from campus would be more than enough to dispel the unanswered questions and concerns that still lingered in the air.

But it will take more than a week to do that. Only taking those concerns seriously and taking steps to address them will assuage our growing suspicion that ASUA has given up its right to be recognized as legitimate representatives of the student body.

As the Daily Wildcat editorial board noted on March 11, the presidential ballot was presented in such a confusing way that it seemed entirely likely that many students would inadvertently vote for the wrong candidate. Compounding the confusion, the ballot was altered in the middle of the election, raising the question of whether the entire election ought to be scrapped and done over again. After all, if a ballot were altered halfway through a congressional election, there’d be hell to pay.

We raised that question, but ASUA chose not to acknowledge it. ASUA President Tommy Bruce was dismissive of our concerns, and waved away our call for a new election. This may seem like a minor matter. But it is not.

The fundamental legitimacy of this university’s student government has been called into question by the sloppy and careless way in which the election was handled. Those students who are apathetic to ASUA ­- the majority, in other words – have just been handed an extra reason not to care. We think that’s a real problem.

The rest includes another recap of the Tubbsgate travesty, and the assertion that ASUA is rapidly losing “any right to be taken seriously.” Good on them for following through: without a complaint from erstwhile candidate Shane Cathers, student media are the only ones who can hold student government accountable.

With every day of silence or imprecise pronouncements from student leaders, uncertainty about the legitimacy of this election grows, and the problem gets worse. (Any of this sound familiar?) At this point, I can’t imagine a full election reboot–that would almost certainly raise more complaints than it settles. But somebody‘s going to have to stop playing Treasury Secretary, step in, fix the rules, and restore some confidence in our elections process–and the sooner the better.

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