Low Turnout Expected in Recall Election

Photo: Poll worker Tiffany La assists voter Valerie Jaffee as she cast her ballot in the ASUC recall election yesterday near Sproul Plaza.
Anna Vignet/Photo
Poll worker Tiffany La assists voter Valerie Jaffee as she cast her ballot in the ASUC recall election yesterday near Sproul Plaza.

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ASUC Recall Election

Information about and student opinions on the February 23-24 recall election of ASUC Senator John Moghtader.

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Polling stations opened across campus Monday, kicking off a two-day, $20,000 recall election of ASUC Senator John Moghtader.

After more than two months of planning and several lawsuits, the recall is in the hands of student voters for the unprecedented election. A two-thirds majority vote in favor of the recall is required to remove the senator.

ASUC Elections Council Chair Emily Liedblad said low voter turnout is expected in the election.

Many students said they were unprepared to vote.

"When I vote for something, I want to be informed on the subject," said freshman Melanie Dumalag, who said she has not decided which way to vote.

Much of the support for the recall centers on Moghtader's controversial behavior over the past year, notably his alleged involvement in an altercation last November in Eshleman Hall.

"The fact is, an attack occurred on campus," said junior Adam Eslami.

But others said not enough is known about the incident.

"I don't think what actually occurred is clear enough to decide," said sophomore Colin Specht, who said he does not plan to vote in the recall.

Moghtader has said he was trying to break up the altercation. UC police recommended he be charged with three counts of battery and hate crime enhancement, but the Alameda County District Attorney's Office decided not to press charges.

Groups on both sides of the recall have focused on getting supporters to the polls. A Facebook group in support of the recall has gathered more than 500 members, while an opposing group in support of the senator has surpassed 250 members.

But many students said they were not interested in voting because they lacked faith in the ASUC Senate.

"It always been rather disorganized and off the cuff," said

senior Emma Baumhofer.

The estimated $20,000 required to conduct the election has also caused controversy among students and ASUC officials at a time when many campus groups face financial strain.

However, some money from the recall will go to student groups after all. Most students who worked at the polls were recruited by student groups, and will donate their pay to those groups.

With the general election season coming up, the Elections Council will seek to apply lessons from the recall to increasing student participation in ASUC elections, said Publicity Chair Vinit Sukhija.

"I've learned what forms of publicity are more effective than others, and we can implement them for the general election," he said.

Candidate filing for the general elections starts on March 2.

Junior Marcus Caimi-the second runner-up in last year's election-would replace Moghtader if he is recalled, as the first runner-up has said he will decline the position.

"I was made aware of the possibility of my becoming an ASUC senator a few weeks ago," Caimi stated in an e-mail. "I will gladly finish out his term."

Crystalkay Fairrington of The Daily Californian contributed to this report.


Zach E.J. Williams covers student government. Contact him at [email protected]

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