Ballot Neutrality Should Trump Desire to Politick

    It’s really not that important I think.” That is Aaron
    Horning’s stand on equalizing the “pro” and “con” statements to be published in
    Earl Warren College’s
    upcoming referendum ballot. It’s a disturbingly obtuse statement, especially
    from the Warren College Student Council’s elections manager.

    Election bylaws require bipartisan presentation on the
    ballot, and much of the current hoopla hangs around WCSC’s campaign tactics
    before the vote. There will be much said about conflicts of interest,
    underhanded promotion and devious politicking within WCSC, where a sizeable
    number of pro-referendum councilmembers have formed an advocacy group to
    promote the $3 fee hike.

    And though this crossed-wire mess is a disappointing
    instance of political neutrality, there is no rule being broken here.
    Dissenting groups have been afforded ample chances to form their own campaign.

    Councilmembers should be allowed the space to hype the
    agendas they like and down the ones they don’t — the election bylaws reflect
    that flexibility. However, the bylaws do prohibit councilmembers from
    forcefeeding blatantly subjective information to voters.

    That was the lesson learned last year, when the all-campus
    elections committee slapped a penalty onto supporters of the athletics
    referendum who were flagrantly campaigning too close to voting machines.

    This is not the same situation. Before the election, WCSC
    Parliamentarian Dan Palay and Horning can plug and peddle the referendum all
    they want, through posters, Facebook groups or word of mouth — it’s called

    The advocacy group has done exactly that, and even more.
    Group members have targeted resident
    advisers and orientation leaders to pass the pro-referendum stance onto
    freshmen; it’s a deft move for supporters, who are smartly aiming at the
    demographic most closely connected to campus politics.

    But there’s the rub. Once those pro-referendum ripples touch
    the words of the voting ballot, there’s a need for concern. The ballot
    possesses a sacredness; it’s an assumed impartiality that voters expect, one
    that is vitally important to the elections process and should be preserved.
    That requirement is stated simply in the bylaws of this university’s election
    game, so simply that there’s no room to conjure a backdoor excuse.

    While Horning has decided to balance the lengths of the
    ballot’s “pro” and “con” testimonies, his begrudging response does a disservice
    to any fair election. If a “con” side is not easily composed — which in this
    instance is most likely due to that side’s lack of organization — Horning
    should seek it out.

    How could the operator of elections not see the importance
    of an informed vote? How could he not feel the responsibility of seeking out
    differing opinions to ensure an informed vote?

    The very bare minimum should be to publicly demonstrate
    neutrality. So save face by stretching the rules, councilmembers, but without
    breaking them.

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