Both ASUC ballot referendums called into question

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Both fee initiatives on this year’s ASUC election ballot may be invalid.

On Saturday, the ASUC Judicial Council voted to hold hearings that call the fate of the V.O.I.C.E. and Class Pass referendums into question. The council will hold one hearing to decide whether ASUC President Vishalli Loomba’s executive order voiding The Daily Californian’s V.O.I.C.E. initiative violated the ASUC Constitution and another to determine whether to disqualify the Class Pass referendum because of inaccurate language.

The V.O.I.C.E. Initiative asked students to pay $2 per semester to support the Daily Cal, and the Class Pass referendum would extend the pass — which gives students unlimited ridership on AC Transit and Bear Transit buses — after it is set to expire in 2013 and increase its cost  to $86 over seven years.

The Class Pass referendum’s language was inaccurate for hours Tuesday, stating that the fee would last three years. As a result, Graduate Assembly President Bahar Navab filed charges Friday against Elections Council chair Pamudh Kariyawasam asking that it be disqualified.

Navab hopes the Class Pass will reappear on the ballot next spring.

“Ultimately, I would like (the referendum) to go back to a vote … especially since there were so many problems with both the voter guide and the Class Pass,” she said. “I don’t want us to disenfranchise seven hours of voters.”

The Judicial Council issued a preliminary injunction to block vote counting and results disclosure pending the hearing, though it has not announced when it will occur. Kariyawasam said he thought the Elections Council should perform informal tabulations and that a revote would not be necessary if the initiative would have passed with a wide margin. If the margin is slim, Kariyawasam said he sees “the legitimacy” of a revote. However, he added that the council will defer to the judgement of the Judicial Council in withholding the results due to an injunction.

Additionally, on Friday, ASUC Solicitor General Erin Delaney and former attorney general Kevin Gibson submitted a charge sheet on behalf of Lynn Yu, campaign manager for the V.O.I.C.E. Initiative. The charge sheet states that Loomba’s move to void the initiative during elections violated the constitution because the action was not “urgent and necessary to maintain the functioning of the ASUC,” as required for issuing executive orders.

Loomba’s order followed concerns that the initiative could violate UC policies against funding a nonuniversity entity through student fee referendum funds. The ASUC Senate voted by a wide margin to uphold Loomba’s order at its Wednesday meeting.

However, the charge sheet states that the executive order “undermines the principles of democracy to which our student government is committed. Further, it punishes the authors and proponents of the VOICE Initiative who for approximately a year have worked to ensure that every precaution was taken to ensure that their referendum had legitimacy in the ASUC elections.”

According to Yu, a Judicial Council hearing on V.O.I.C.E. is scheduled for Wednesday evening.

Staff writer Chloe Hunt contributed to this report.

Alisha Azevedo is the assistant university news editor.

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the ASUC Elections Council had begun to perform informal tabulation results. In fact, it has not.