GPSC Notebook: October 12, 2017
The Graduate and Professional Student Council voted to cancel their Tuesday special election due to lack of written precedent guiding the process.
The vote came after Elections Commissioner Hannah Parker informed GPSC that the elections code is void of precedent for general elections in the fall.
“Special elections are defined in the elections code as being held ‘as a tie for a tie-breaker’ after a general election,” Parker said. These elections only take place in the spring.
Parker’s recommendation was an alternative process where GPSC votes on the new members as opposed to the student body. This brought concern from the other representatives that the process would not be a true democracy and it may potentially be challenged.
“I foresee a situation where easily a suit can be brought to ASUA Supreme Court that says these aren’t elected officials, we elected them and they don’t represent their constituencies,” said representative Anthony Salas. “And I worry that it gets us in a larger situation where not only do we not have the representatives or the seats filled, we re-litigate it. And come next semester we still don’t have those seats filled.”
Another issue raised by the cancellation was how to clarify the code for special elections. The first option — recommended by Parker — was to take the matter to ASUA Supreme Court.
“They are the only people outside of this governing body that can really interpret what our governing documents say,” Parker said.
This brought push back from GPSC President Jessica Baxter, citing precedent from previous situations.
“They’re going to be saying they cannot determine our process for us,” Baxter said. “They can only tell us what our elections code means.”
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Since everyone who read the code agreed it was unclear, Baxter said she could see the ASUA Supreme Court saying the same thing and tasking GPSC with making the rules.
Another option would be to simply amend the elections code, but that ran into a problem.
“There is no process for amending the elections code,” Baxter said.
GPSC finally decided to vote on a motion brought by Treasurer David Contreras that would announce cancellation of the special election and postpone it indefinitely until the Legislative and Governing Documents Committee can address the issue.
After an initial vote that was called off over a dispute on abstentions, the motion passed with 11 yes votes, two no votes and three abstentions.
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