Many Steps Required in Determining Stern's Fate
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Category: News > University > ASUC
Facing the possibility of disqualification for alleged elections bylaws violations, ASUC President-elect Noah Stern's future in student government remains uncertain.
The Judicial Council accepted all three charge sheets filed Sunday by Attorney General Kevin Gibson, but a hearing was not scheduled as of press time Monday.
"We were aiming for this weekend, but it looks like it's more likely to happen at the beginning of next week," said Council Chair Kiira Johal.
Gibson alleged that Stern violated the bylaws by interfering with the "proper tallying of votes," seeking extra votes, voting twice, campaigning in residence halls and sending spam e-mails.
Johal said the evidence and the names of witnesses to be considered will be submitted to the council several days before the hearing takes place.
She added that after the hearing concludes, the council will make a decision and write a formal opinion.
But if found to be in violation, Stern-who could not be reached for comment-could appeal the council's decision.
According to the council's rules of procedure, a petitioner for an appeal must prove that a "reversible error" may exist or that the council's decision was "significantly influenced" by a violation of the council's rules on due process.
Seth Masket, who covered student government for The Daily Californian in 1988 and was an ASUC senator in 1989-90, said that he could not remember any cases of election fraud in his time at UC Berkeley.
"Our big problem with elections was to get anybody to vote in the first place," he said.
Masket, now an assistant professor of political science at the University of Denver, added that several states are considering instituting online voting for elections and that opponents of Internet voting could point to the Stern elections controversy as an example of the risk of voter fraud and intimidation it presents.
Justin Azadivar, a UC Berkeley graduate student who analyzed the ASUC for over six years in his now-inactive blog "Beetle Beat," said he does not believe the council will disqualify Stern.
"The Judicial Council will not want to disqualify anyone," he said. "It's a pain in the ass for them and the ASUC as a whole."
Some past election disputes have led to civil litigation. In 2006, President-elect and Student Action party member Oren Gabriel filed suit against the ASUC in the Alameda County Superior Court, seeking a court order that would reverse a Judicial Council decision that disqualified the entire Student Action slate after the council ruled that their party chair had perjured himself.
The Alameda County case's presiding judge dismissed the suit and sent it back to the Judicial Council for further consideration, after which the council reversed its decision and reinstated the slate.
Following the dispute's resolution, Gabriel unsuccessfully attempted to have his legal fees reimbursed by the ASUC Legal Defense Fund.
Azadivar said the Stern case could be a "big deal" if the council's decision resulted in Stern's disqualification, which he said could lead to a lawsuit.
Student Action Chair Meghana Dhar declined to comment on the validity of Gibson's claims pending the disclosure of evidence.
"The attorney general has had over two weeks to create this case," Dhar said. "We've had less than a day to assess the charges."
Contact Nick Myers at [email protected]
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