ASUC Senate updates elections bylaws

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In an effort to make elections more transparent, the ASUC Senate unanimously approved bylaw amendments, limiting both the way in which political parties can register and how candidates can run in elections.

The amendments, outlined in the 2015 Elections Modernization Act, were passed at last week’s senate meeting. The bylaw changes were proposed by the senate’s Governance and Internal Affairs Committee, previously known as the Constitutional Review Committee.

The committee outlined several specific concerns with the previous bylaws, including long party names not being partially printed on the ballots and candidates running with more than one party, Senate Vice Chair Alek Klimek said.

Candidates running under parties with long titles, such as “Student Action-Apple Engineering-Unite Greek party,” did not always have the full party name listed on the ballot, Klimek said. CalSERVE senator and committee member Lavanya Jawaharlal said the committee thought having multiple party names can be confusing or misleading to voters.

The committee decided that the candidate must be a part of the community if the party name refers to a specific community, such as Greek life or engineering.

SQUELCH! senator and committee member Dree Kavoussi spearheaded the bylaw changes and said she was concerned that the previous bylaws “increased party pettiness.” The committee eventually decided to prohibit parties from registering with any language suggesting that the party is more than one party.

Jawaharlal said the bylaw changes will give anyone the freedom to establish a party and prevent smaller parties from being controlled or absorbed by larger parties. She added that there were not really any senators opposed to the bylaw amendments.

“(The change) does get a little away from the two party dominance,” said CalSERVE party chair Spencer Pritchard. “You can’t have Student Action and CalSERVE across the whole ballot, so now you’ll have different names — it’ll be more representative of the student body.”

The committee also decided that candidates cannot run with more than one party and thus may only be endorsed by one party.

Klimek explained that there is a $200 per candidate limit on campaign spending. Candidates who run with more than one party, however, could have more resources due to a total $2,625 party campaign cap, which can only be spent on materials for the party.

Kavoussi also said candidates with multiple endorsements could unintentionally use more party spending than other candidates.

“We don’t think that’s fair, especially for independent candidates,” Kavoussi said. She hopes these changes will make “students go out and get educated on how they’re voting.”

The 2015-16 ASUC election will be held April 7, 8 and 9.

Angel Grace Jennings covers student government. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @angeljenningss.