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One deadline, under UBE

The University Board of Elections should take on greater responsibilities

When elections are completed this spring, the next step for the Honor Committee must be to ensure that the referenda deadline problem, which has occurred three times in the past four years, is resolved once and for all. The Committee’s constitution gives the University Board of Elections the power to run its elections but still this problem persists. While at first glance it may appear a simple language clarification will solve this problem — deciding if “from two to six weeks” means two weeks before the start or the end of elections — this will only lead to continued conflict if the Committee and UBE have different deadlines for submitting referenda. Because UBE is given the authority to hold elections on behalf of the Committee, the only reasonable solution can be to abolish the clause in the Committee’s constitution that mandates a referendum be submitted two weeks before elections are held and give UBE complete control of the timetable for elections. That being said, UBE must work with the Committee to establish a deadline the Committee finds acceptable.

UBE Chair Alisa Abbott said the calendar for elections is the same each spring. For the past two years, elections have been held the same number of weeks after the return from Winter Break and this spring’s election calendar was put on UBE’s Web site at the beginning of the semester. The timeline on UBE’s Web site states, “The deadline here is set by the UBE; in the case of constitutional change a prior deadline by the affected constitution may take precedence.”

Because it currently accounts for these special deadlines, UBE is currently fulfilling all of its requirements to run fair elections. Yet the practice of having different deadlines and even different requirements to submit referenda is confusing and cumbersome; UBE requires 950 signatures whereas the Committee requires the signatures of 10 percent of the student body. Because UBE is granted the power to run elections for student organizations, UBE should expand its role to comprehensively address all requirements for elections and establish one deadline for submissions to streamline the referenda proposal process.

UBE should have the requirements to submit referenda for all organizations on its Web site. Additionally, UBE should work with these organizations to reach a consensus on deadlines and requirements for referenda. In the case of the Committee, it is understandable it would want a greater number of signatures to make amendments to its constitution, and once the different requirements are clearly noted on UBE’s Web site, students should encounter fewer problems when submitting referenda.

Additionally, there is no reason for UBE and the Committee to have different deadlines. For the sake of running valid elections, however, there should only be one submission deadline. Because the Committee, along with other student governing organizations, already grants UBE the authority to run elections, this should not be a problem. For its part, UBE must work closely with each student governing organization to establish fair and clear rules for submitting referenda. It is understandable that the Committee would like the student body to have information about a referendum two weeks prior to voting on it, and UBE and the Committee need to work out one deadline that both parties can accept.

According to Abbott, “Honor and UBE have a great relationship” and the two organizations plan to meet following this spring’s elections to work out a solution. The Committee and UBE are currently fulfilling all their responsibilities to the student body regarding elections, but there is plenty of room for improvement. UBE needs to have an expanded role that allows it to set one deadline all student governing organizations are comfortable with. This will simplify the referendum submission process for students and eliminate an unnecessary barrier to democracy.

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