The first Associated Students Council meeting of Winter Quarter centered around election reform, following concerns brought up in the previous election cycle in Spring 2022. Senator Eduardo Tapia Jr. Urbieta led the discussion with a special presentation concerning election reform, examining ways to fix current constitutional election codes.
Urbieta first went over existing election codes. The codes set forth specific details that help ensure that A.S. Council has fair and equitable elections, including “equal access to any and all with the inclination, qualification, and dedication to serve.”
However, Urbieta pointed out that there were issues with keeping election regulations compliant with these ideals. Although elections are supposed to be equally accessible to everyone, previous elections have not guaranteed this. Urbieta drew attention to four main points brought up during a post-election discussion held during Week 6 of last Spring Quarter. These were issues with outreach and election information accessibility, a short application period that students were not informed about, restricting campaigning outreach, and the lack of support for low-income students wanting to run.
Urbieta then brought up several proposals to address the aforementioned issues, including new event requirements for the elections manager, adopting direct democracy policies to empower students, and updating the endorsement process.
The new event requirements proposed by Urbieta will include two new application workshops during the application period. There will also be a mandated candidate orientation after the application process that will review election rules and the responsibilities of each position before candidates run for office.
“I think this last part is very important because not all candidates know what is involved in each position and what they have to do,” Urbieta clarified. “The assumption is made that the student knows what they’re doing by reading the position description or looking at their email.”
However, Urbieta also stated that these events are not required, and it’s up to the election manager to determine whether or not they would like to host these events. Still, this will be available as an outline for election managers to refer to in the future.
Urbieta also suggested removing candidate images from ballots because even though it allows for identification, it also could allow uninformed voters to choose based on image instead of policies.
Following this, Urbieta also introduced a proposal to adopt policies such as a recall process, where students could vote to remove an officer from A.S. Council. As of now, UC San Diego is the only University of California campus that does not have a recall process for its student government.
“We are the only campus not to provide students the direct opportunity to hold their elected constituents accountable,” Urbieta noted.
Urbieta also stated that the current election code does not allow A.S. Council members use their titles for election activities and that there is no way of managing endorsements. To address these issues, Urbieta proposed creating a new process for endorsements from student organizations and individuals and allowing A.S. Council members to use their titles for identification purposes.
The rest of the meeting was mostly spent on discussing election reform. It also included discussions of new financial allocations to student organizations, including a Lunar New Year Social and PiB Project Committee. A.S. Council meetings take place at 6 p.m. every Wednesday and are open to students. Students can participate in these meetings by joining their Zoom link or tuning in on Facebook Live.
Art by Ava Bayley for The UCSD Guardian