ASUC Elections Council discusses potential regulations for referenda

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The ASUC Elections Council held its first official meeting Friday to discuss some potential new campaign rules regarding referenda that may be on the ballot in this year’s elections.

The council addressed the lack of permanent financial regulations for referendum campaigns in the ASUC bylaws and the complications that arise when campus departments provide support for these campaigns.

The potential referenda — which includes ones related to an increase in the ASUC student activity fee, a wellness fee and solar energy reinvestment — will be brought before the senate at this week’s meeting. The deadline for these referendum proposals to be submitted to the Elections Council is March 13, but the council has already received several questions regarding what is permitted in terms of campaigning for the referenda.

“We decided that, if it’s going to be a big deal this year, there need to be guidelines,” said Elections Council chair Jenny Chien.

One potential rule the council discussed would impose a campaign spending limit of $3,500 per campus department per unit for referendum. A campus department is defined as any group that is run by UC Berkeley and has a budget. This regulation would be in lieu of a hard cap on spending for referendum campaigns.

The council also hopes to address concerns regarding where campaign materials — such as posters and flyers — are permitted within campus buildings. Because campus departments may publicly comment on referenda for which they are not the official proponents or opponents, the Elections Council cannot easily regulate any materials posted by these departments — which are technically outside of the jurisdiction of the ASUC.

Additionally, this year, all candidate, party and referendum spending will be posted publicly on the ASUC elections website. But given the large number of expenditure receipts that are likely to be submitted, the finalized numbers may not be posted before voting begins April 7, according to ASUC Attorney General Natalja Karniouchina.

“The need for these rules is urgent and necessary,” Karniouchina said. “These rules would ensure this round of elections is fair to the students and the public.”

These rules are in the process of being drafted by Karniouchina and her team. After the language is finalized and approved by the Elections Council, the rules will be sent to the ASUC Judicial Council for further review.

Representatives from the Elections Council will bring up the potential new rules at this week’s senate meeting to gauge levels of support for the new regulations.

The Elections Council will hold another meeting Friday to discuss these potential temporary rules and other campaign bylaws.

Michelle Pitcher is a news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @michellepitcher.