ASUC Considers Polling Station Reductions

Photo: Polling stations opened across campus for ASUC Senate elections this past April. A proposal aims to cut costs by eliminating a majority of these stations for the next election.
Chris Chung/File
Polling stations opened across campus for ASUC Senate elections this past April. A proposal aims to cut costs by eliminating a majority of these stations for the next election.

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Officials and senators within the ASUC are considering eliminating the vast majority of physical polling stations for the spring general election and shifting voting online, which could save the financially-strapped ASUC tens of thousands of dollars.

The plans were proposed by Elections Council Chair Vinit Sukhija at Wednesday's ASUC meeting with the aim of reducing the cost of running this spring's election.

"If we do pass a bill ... I'm going to lower the budget from $40,000 to $15,000," Sukhija said at the meeting. "That's $25,000 in discretionary income back in your pocket and you can decide what to do with it."

Sukhija said the proposal would reduce the cost of operating physical stations in a time when the majority of students vote online.

Of the 11,016 votes cast in last

semester's election, 10 percent were cast in the 13 physical stations around campus. Running a single polling station costs roughly $3,000.

"Those are fees students are paying to the ASUC. They need to be spent wisely," Sukhija said. "Spending $3,000 for 12 people to vote is not a real good use of student funds at all."

The ASUC Senate may dip into its reserve funds next week, because spending this semester has depleted the senate's contingency fund to $1,070.

Sukhija is drafting a bill with senators that would amend the ASUC bylaws to allow the reduction of polling stations. The bill would require a two-thirds majority vote from the senate.

He will meet with the senate's Constitutional and Procedural Review Committee next week to discuss the bill's constitutionality.

Despite the fact that some senators are worried that getting rid of the stations would lower the visibility of the elections and possibly negatively affect turnout, others said the potential monetary savings could outweigh the possibility of lower turnout.

"The publicity could be worthwhile but not to the degree that spending money on the polling station would be worth it," said Student Action Senator Minji Kim who is co-sponsoring the bill.

Sukhija said he plans to counter whatever publicity would be lost by holding structured debates with candidates and increasing use of online social networks like Facebook.

While the bill has not yet been authored and the specifics of where the money would go if the bill is passed are not yet known, Finance Officer Alan Ni said the bill is fiscally sound.

"Having more money is always good; it could potentially go to (the contingency fund) or spring budgeting," he said. "No matter what, if you're saving money, it could go towards other things."


Contact Javier Panzar at [email protected]

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