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Thursday, July 2, 2020

AS Board of Directors to vote on revised election code

A correction to this article was made at 7:40 p.m. on Oct. 13, 2019.

By Reece Jennings

The Associated Students board of directors will vote next week on finalizing the election code for the 2019-2020 AS Student Senate elections. 

Board members discussed approving the proposal for a revised election code in their meeting on Oct. 4. If approved, the updated code would be used for the 2019 AS Senate election. 

Registration for the election opened to candidates on Sept. 25. Approving the revisions now would mean changing the candidate election code right before they can start campaigning. 

Board members discussed the need for a language revision of the code’s endorsement policies for clarity. They want to avoid any confusion about the rules AS employees have to follow for endorsing a candidate. 

“We can’t limit AS employees as individuals,” said Grace Drechsel, Western’s AS Vice President for government affairs. 

Drechsel said this was an issue for the board last year when AS employees were not allowed to endorse a candidate’s measures in their personal capacity. 

Board members want to be sure the wording of the code is not limiting free speech. AS Vice President for activities Selome Zerai shared Drechsel’s concern. 

“I know the issue of current AS employees endorsing a candidate was an issue in the last election, and I am concerned about an AS employee working on a campaign against the candidate,” Zerai said.

Adah Barenburg, Senate Pro-Tempore, expressed concern for approving the code changes during the election period. 

“I’m worried about the timeline we have for this,” Barenburg said. “Making changes to the election code would not be morally right.”

Barenburg recommended that the board only pass the code with the corrected dates, and save more substantive changes for after the election. 

The board is also concerned that making changes to the code at this point in the election period is in violation of election rules. According to the existing code, revisions may not be made after the opening of the candidate filing period. 

AS President Lani Defiesta said they felt revising the code right now would not be an ethical decision. 

Zerai suggested using the past election code with revisions to correct the dates. Grace Drechsel motioned to hold an electronic vote next Friday, Oct. 11, to approve using the existing code with date corrections. 

“People are already filing without a code, but we need it ready for the campaigning,” Dreschel said. 

The motion was passed, and the board will vote on the AS Senate election code on Oct. 11. If approved, the code will be available to candidates by the start of the campaign period.  

The campaign period opens on Oct. 16 at 8 p.m., according to the elections timeline.

A correction to this article was made at 7:40 p.m. on Oct. 13, 2019. A quote by Selome Zerai was misattributed to Adah Barenburg: “I know the issue of current AS employees endorsing a candidate was an issue in the last election, and I am concerned about an AS employee working on a campaign against the candidate.” The correction reflects Zerai as the author of the quote. 


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