An Unconventional Election

Towards an Improved UA Electoral System

The UA election is over, and all candidates who ran should be congratulated for their efforts. Participation in student government is a crucial part of campus life. When more people show interest in on-campus affairs, variety of opinions increases, and it’s more likely we’ll find effective solutions to our problems.

This election was unconventional due to the late entry of a write-in ticket — myself and Tewfik Cassis ’10. Our decision was prompted by a number of circumstances, which we have explained in e-mails, through interviews, and on our website (http://www.voteforavoice.info). So, I won’t go into those details now. Suffice to say, our efforts, unfortunately, were not enough to win the election, but they were enough to spark up some controversial discussions. One of the most interesting was the conversation on the ua-discuss e-mail list regarding the UA Election Commission’s decision to not sanction our candidacy nor disqualify us.

Several people expressed concerns about the fairness of the election code and whether or not it was right to allow write-ins to have more lenient campaigning rules. The counter-argument to this was that being a write-in in and of itself is a disadvantage and makes it almost impossible to succeed, especially with the UA’s preferential system of voting. I have several comments on this issue that, instead of sending via e-mail, I have decided to reserve for this article.

Many of you have read the editorial published by The Tech a few weeks ago endorsing the Bennie/Delano ticket. First off, The Tech is the main news source on campus, and the fact that it publishes an election editorial doesn’t mean it has a monopoly over campus opinion regarding the election. Certain people, both within and external to the UA, argued that it was unfair that the article “elevated” the write-in ticket to the status of other tickets. The prospect of a write-in ticket that had what was deemed an “unfair” campaigning advantage and managed to somehow garner some more “official” publicity seemed too arbitrary and even “unfortunate” to some.

I would counter that the panel involved in writing the article and interviewing all the candidates included two past UA presidents and the editor in chief of The Tech. Furthermore, I would argue that not only is it not arbitrary, but that it is indeed fortunate for the other campaigns that a write-in ticket running a week before voting began managed to shake up an election that had been, until that point in the race, very dull.

Perhaps this write-in ticket forced the candidates to get out of their seats and actually campaign, to make themselves more well-known to the student body, to give out flyers and poster the Infinite. And if that was what it took to get more students to vote and really make an informed decision, then so be it.

Write-in candidates should not be blocked from participating in future elections, but I do think that the UA Election Commission needs to reevaluate at the rules and figure out what is and isn’t fair for future elections. The rules could be fine just the way they are, and, if anything, the strength of our campaign coupled with the fact that we did not end up winning the election will probably discourage people from running as write-ins anytime in the near future.

I just think elections should be fair, and anyone should be allowed to participate. If “Tim the Beaver” decided to run a day before the election and advertise that, he should be allowed to do so. Maybe a humorous e-mail from Tim will cause someone who has not voted before to look at other platforms just for the sake of wanting to write Tim in, leading that person to actually participate in the democratic process of voting.

The United States is criticized by other nations as being a Western democracy with one of the lowest electoral voter turnouts; we should ensure this campus has a higher level of voter participation. Less than 50 percent participation is pitiful. Don’t restrict candidates: encourage their participation and make the rules clear. Here’s to a better UA under the Bennie/Delano administration and an improved electoral system, with or without write-ins.

Abdulaziz Albahar is a member of the Class of 2010.