ASUC Senate to Review Campaign Reform Proposals
Wednesday, May 7, 2003
A slew of proposals to reform ASUC campaign rules will go before the senate tonight-a last-ditch effort by this year's senators to change the way candidates can campaign in future student government elections.
The 24 proposals-many of which cover similar ground-come after ASUC President Jesse Gabriel vetoed a nearly unanimous election reform senate bill just before April's ASUC elections.
The bills are aimed at clarifying some gray areas in ASUC elections that many senators say give candidates allied with political parties an unfair advantage over students running independently.
"I'm sick of having elections based on breaking rules and getting out of it rather than just not breaking the rules in the first place," said APPLE Senator Misha Leybovich, who authored five of the bills.
But some senators said the more than two dozen bills could run into some trouble. Senators cannot consider bills containing the same information twice, said Student Action Senator Cliff Costa, the original reform bill's sole opponent.
Still, ASUC Attorney General Steve McCarty-Snead ruled at last week's senate meeting that the two sets of reforms were substantially different.
The rules would prohibit commonly used campaign tactics such as campaigning in the residence halls, chalking, using ASUC funds-money annually taken from student fees-and posting fliers on top of other candidates' material.
A two-thirds senate majority must pass the rules before they can go into effect for next year's elections.
Although Gabriel acknowledged some election reform is necessary, he said he would be hesitant to approve any election rules that were not previously discussed with him.
"I felt that there were some things that need to be changed as well," said Gabriel, a Student Action member. "We could probably pass some bipartisan election reform, something that everyone would agree with."
Gabriel vetoed the earlier rules shortly after they were passed, saying senators passed them in a "hasty manner."
Although several senators attempted to reinstate the rules after Gabriel's veto, the ASUC Judicial Council upheld Gabriel's decision, citing the senate's failure to publicly post adequate information about the proposed reform.
ASUC senators approved the original election rules several weeks before elections-just days before election rules were distributed to candidates.
Gabriel said none of the new bills' authors have discussed the proposed changes with him. But Leybovich and Cal-SERVE Senator Patrick Hammon said Gabriel has not been receptive to their concerns all year.
Gabriel said he has not looked at the current reform bills being discussed at tonight's senate meeting.
Leybovich, Hammon and Berkeley College Republicans Senator Paul LaFata crossed party lines to co-write the first reform bill.
Both Hammon and Leybovich teamed up to write March's reform. Tonight's bills were written individually.
Leybovich's bills would ban chalking and putting candidates' names on ASUC student group fliers.
Henchman wants candidates to electronically keep track of their campaign spending, which the ASUC attorney general and Elections Council usually monitor.
Still, Hammon said he will push for Leybovich's bill first.
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