ASUC Senate Decides on Election Polling Stations

Photo: Etcheverry Hall will be the site of a new polling station for the 2011 ASUC General Election in order to serve students on the north side of campus.
Kevin Foote/Photo
Etcheverry Hall will be the site of a new polling station for the 2011 ASUC General Election in order to serve students on the north side of campus.

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After a decision by the ASUC Senate, which followed heated debate, students will have one less choice than last year in polling locations when they cast their ballots for the 2011 ASUC General Election next week.

At its March 16 meeting, the senate decided that part of the ASUC Constitution and Bylaws must be suspended because the Elections Council had planned not only to reduce the number of polling stations specified in the bylaws, but also to change some of the locations themselves. As a compromise, the senate also decided to add a seventh station though the council had only planned for six.

According to the bylaws, the elections must have eight polling locations - at Upper Sproul Plaza, Kroeber Hall, Evans Hall, the Genetics and Plant Biology Building, Crossroads residential dining facility, Moffitt Library, Doe Library and Main Stacks Library.

However, this year's council had planned to change the number of stations to six - eliminating stations at Main Stacks and Doe libraries - in order to cut costs and promote online voting, while also moving the Upper Sproul Plaza station to Dwinelle Hall because the council said a station there would operate more efficiently. The cost of one polling location is around $1,000, according to council officials.

But some senators were not satisfied with the six locations the council had chosen.

"I feel if we are delegating all the money we are to student groups every year, we can take $1,000 for another polling location," said Student Action Senator Spencer McLeod at the meeting. "To me, it's an investment to ensure the process is fair."

Cooperative Movement Senator Elliot Goldstein stressed at the meeting that the senate needed to suspend the bylaws and keep with the council's six stations because of the cost associated with adding a location and because he said he did not think senators would be able to reach an effective compromise.

Additionally, some Student Action senators advocated at the meeting for a station at Haas School of Business.

"I feel the Haas community is one that is fairly disconnected from the rest of campus," said Student Action Senator Michael Bloch. "One of my main concerns was that the entire constituency might not come out to vote just on the basis of not having a polling station there."

After several senators, including McLeod and Bloch, unsuccessfully attempted to convince other senators to add a Haas station, the senate eventually settled on the addition of a seventh station at Etcheverry Hall upon agreement that it would also serve the community of students on the north side of campus who previously would not have had a polling station nearby.

"I am disappointed that the senate did not approve the Election Council's sound, apolitical plan," Goldstein said in an e-mail. "I believe that some senators' vote was overtly based on partisan self-interest and should not have been politicized in the way that it was."

Elections Council Chair Shivom Sinha said at the meeting that an additional station would burden the council.

He said a seventh location would be problematic for the council because they already had an intricate plan for the original six stations. But after the senate made its decision, Sinha said the council worked through the night to accommodate for the additional station, which he said was 90 percent staffed within two days of the senate meeting.

According to Sinha, the council is now completely ready for the new station and was able to fully prepare it in spite of the challenge.

"The problem with staffing Etcheverry was really about who is going to trek all the way across campus," Sinha said. "It's not very convenient for students."

CalSERVE Senator Alex Tan, who had supported staying with the council's proposed six stations, said he hopes to see the process move forward smoothly in the future, though he said the debate was more personal than it should have been.

"I'm not exactly sure if it was the right decision, but there definitely was some element of compromise," Tan said.


J.D. Morris is the lead student government reporter. Contact him at [email protected]

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