ASUC Allowed To Meet During Senator Recall Election Delay

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In the minutes before last night's ASUC meeting was called to order, senators awaited a ruling that could have prevented them from meeting or conducting business for weeks.

The legitimacy of the meeting was challenged by some who said the senate would be in violation of a constitutional requirement to hold the recall election of independent Senator John Moghtader before meeting again.

Although the ASUC Judicial Council eventually decided the senate could continue its meetings as usual, the last-minute nature of the ruling was typical of the haphazard proceedings of this year's ASUC.

Last semester the senate had to stall official business for five weeks due to their failure to appoint an elections council chair on time. Earlier this week a scheduled recall election was voided due to mismanagement just hours before it was set to begin.

Elections Council Chair Emily Liedblad blamed the disorganization of the recall election on an inadequate amount of time to prepare. The petition calling for Moghtader's recall was presented to the senate only two days after Liedblad's appointment.

Liedblad said she began planning the election and looking for others to assist in the efforts over the winter holiday, but was still nowhere near collecting the roughly 100 people that would be required to staff the election by Jan. 26 and 27, the time for which it was scheduled.

"As is, I still don't have very basic things," she said. "I still don't have keys to the election council chambers."

Plaintiffs challenging the senate's right to meet cited the constitutional requirement that the recall election be held before the second regularly scheduled senate meeting after accepting the recall petition.

One of the plaintiffs, Husam Zakharia, said he wanted to ensure that the recall election is not indefinitely delayed.

"It's not a strategic thing; it's just making sure that it happens," Zakharia said.

Berkeley College Republicans Senator Tommy Owens said he felt the extra time before the election would allow people more time to make a reasoned decision before casting their ballots.

"I think this is going to allow people to start talking about it and start examining the reasons for this recall," he said.

Last night's meeting was the second after the original dates were set, but the council ruled that because the election dates had been set but were subsequently voided, the senate would be allowed to continue meeting.

Even given the extra time afforded by the winter break, many procedures of how the election was to be held remained unclear until Saturday, when the council made its latest ruling to clarify elections specifics.

One week ago, a council ruling that could have rendered the recall attempt invalid was still pending, putting preparations on hold.

Judicial Council Interim Chair Kiira Johal said there could easily be more charges filed in regards to the recall.

"I wouldn't be surprised if there are more advisory opinions," she said. "(Recall elections) lack specificity provided in the by-laws and the constitution."


Valerie Woolard is the assistant university news editor. Contact her at [email protected]

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