ASUC Judicial Council delays referendum certification, Elections Council certifies results

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The ASUC Elections Council met Monday, where it certified the Protecting the Checks and Balances of the ASUC Constitution referendum but did not pass the three other referendums on the 2021 election ballots. During a separate meeting, the ASUC Judicial Council moved to table the certification of the four referendums to a later date.

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Throughout the course of a week following the preliminary tabulation event, the ASUC Elections Council certified the results of the referendums from the 2021 ASUC elections, which remain to be certified by the ASUC Judicial Council amid conflicting ASUC bylaws and UC Berkeley policies.

At its Monday meeting, the Elections Council certified the passage of the proposition titled Protecting the Checks and Balances of the ASUC Constitution. In accordance with campus policy on referendum fees, the three remaining propositions — the Graduate Assembly Fee, Student Technology Fee and Daily Cal Initiative — did not pass.

Both the Elections Council and Judicial Councils must certify election results for them to be deemed final.

“The results are not contestable. What we do with the votes after we receive them is that we apply policy,” said Skyler-Myles Clinton Cobb, Elections Council chair, at the meeting. “We don’t apply positions and thought processes behind things to reinterpret what the results hypothetically could be.”

Cobb said the three propositions did not pass because they did not meet the campus policy that requires at least 20% of eligible voters to vote on a given proposition in order for the referendum to be considered. The policy further states that abstentions do not count toward meeting the voter turnout threshold.

During public comment, ASUC bylaw 4105, section 5.3 was cited. Contrary to campus policy, the bylaw states that abstain votes should count when determining if a voter threshold has been met. However, Cobb clarified that despite contradictory rules, campus policies “supersede everything else.”

At the Judicial Council’s meeting Monday, the public comment portion featured several people advocating for the passage of the Student Technology Fee and Daily Cal Initiative.

“The STF (Student Technology Fee) is key to inclusivity in tech on campus,” said UC Berkeley student Sam Phillips during the meeting. “We came to student government today because the people in this room right now have the power to support students.”

Additionally, the main point of contention was whether or not abstentions should count toward meeting the voter threshold. Many attendees urged the council to follow ASUC bylaws, which would count abstain votes.

According to UC Berkeley policy, campus guidelines are “advisory to students and the ASUC.” However, the policy also states that if students or the ASUC do not abide by the rules, the fees risk not being approved by the chancellor.

Campus student Jenya Pryadkin noted during public comment that the rules regarding the impact of abstentions are unclear.

“If voters were aware that abstention would harm the democratic process this way — by not counting towards voter thresholds — I really think a lot of them would have voted differently,” Pryadkin said at the meeting.

Shortly before the council convened, a petition was filed asking to delay certification of the referendums.

The Judicial Council decided to table the petition since it did not have enough time to review it and also tabled the certification of all four propositions to a later meeting.

Mela Seyoum is a student government reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @melaseyoum.