ASUC Elections Council holds mandatory elections meeting for candidates

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The ASUC Elections Council held its annual mandatory elections meeting Tuesday, during which potential candidates for ASUC elected positions, as well as proponents of referendums, were briefed on the election cycle and election policies they must obey.

The meeting lasted almost two and a half hours and included discussions on ballots, candidate expectations, campaign finances and what the election season would look like. According to Elections Council chair James Weichert, the election has been moved online given the cancellation of in-person classes due to the COVID-19, or the new coronavirus, pandemic and will now include a livestreamed, instead of in-person, tabulations ceremony and completely virtual voting.

“This year’s Mandatory Elections Meeting presented a unique challenge to the Elections Council, as we conducted the meeting entirely online for the first time due to concerns over COVID-19,” Weichert said in an email. “However, our goal remains the same–to inform candidates, parties, and proposition campaigns and to hold them accountable for their actions during the campaign season.”

Weichert added that prizes and other physical incentives would still be offered for voting. This year, students who vote will be automatically entered into a raffle for Beats headphones and gift cards, which can be picked up in-person through the fall semester to account for students who have left Berkeley.

Voting will occur online through CalLink, which students can sign into using their CalNet credentials. For students who cannot sign in for any reason, Weichert said there will also be a “provisional ballot” through a form, where login will not be necessary but students will have to prove they are enrolled on campus by submitting a photo of their student ID.

“These unforeseen circumstances present a challenge to everyone,” Weichert said at the meeting. “We will be doing everything possible to continue the 2020 ASUC elections on schedule while accommodating our move online and the needs of students.”

The Elections Council is focusing on wellness this election season, as all candidates have signed a Voluntary Wellness Honor Pact, which will not be enforced by the Elections Council but outlines conduct that will “promote an overall positive and productive election season.”

According to ASUC Elections Auditor Jennifer Yang, the Elections Council will also emphasize financial transparency this election season, as they will be asking candidates to submit documentation for every dollar they spend on their campaigns. She added that gifts-in-kind will also be counted and that campaigns cannot end with a profit.

Weichert added that any violations of these policies would be sent to the ASUC Judicial Council and could lead to potential censures that, if five are accrued, could lead to disqualification. According to ASUC Chief Legal Officer Jedidiah Tsang, the Elections Council will be willing to negotiate plea deals for lower censure counts, as it has done in past years. Weichert added that, this year, an admittance of guilt will be a stipulation to receive a plea deal.

Voting in the elections will take place from April 6-8.

Kate Finman is the university news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @KateFinman_DC.