EDITORIAL: Union election rules stifle class of 2007 senate race
It is unacceptable that the person who received the most votes in the primary election - almost 33 percent more than any nearest candidate - in the Class of 2007 will not represent them in the Union Senate. Jenny Feinberg '07 was disqualified by the election commissioners for violating two ill-conceived election rules which forbid candidates from both having a link in AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) away messages directly to the voting Web page and putting up an away message requesting readers to vote for a candidate the day of election.Election rules such as these are arbitrary and difficult to enforce. They work not to further democracy within the Student Union, but to suppress eager candidates whose only transgression is a desire to serve their constituents.
The rules were originally designed to ensure "clean" and fair elections. However, all they ensure is that voters get disenfranchised should the candidate they support get disqualified from the election due to overzealousness of both the election commissioners and the election rules. As it stands, recent elections are decided by the election commissioners - a group of five people who can overturn the will of over 200 voters, reminding one of the 2000 U.S. Presidential Election.
While the rules should prevent candidates from spending money to gain an unfair edge, like giving free candy to supporters, they should not prevent candidates from using their First Amendment rights in spreading their messages. Currently, these rules do not ensure fair elections, but foster an atmosphere of ambiguity and distrust in the Union. These regulations are so stifling that they even ban candidates from reminding their friends to vote during elections.
The purpose of the original rule - put into effect when elections still took place in Usdan - was to prevent students from being harassed by the candidates or their supporters. Now, the rule has evolved into forbidding campaigning of any form on Election Day to ensure no candidate gets an unfair advantage.
The election rules also make a distinction between active and passive campaigning. It is absurd that placing an away message during elections is considered active campaigning, since people have to take "affirmative action," according to the Student Union, to check an away message and find out if a person is running.
It is unfortunate that the rules are so vague, as each first-year candidate has admitted or has been reported to violate one or more of the election rules. However, since not all of them are on the election commissioners' buddy lists - as was Feinberg - they were not disqualified. Such enforcement of the rules is both arbitrary and ridiculous.
Additionally, two of Feinberg's opponents have come to her aid, offering to file a Union Judiciary case on her behalf. This speaks volumes about the injustice of this case, since two people who could benefit from her disqualification believe it is unfair and want her to represent the class of 2007. It should not be up to a group of five people to overturn the will of an entire class.
It is paramount that the election rules be reconsidered for any future elections and reworked to foster an atmosphere of democracy.
We hope that the rules are re-evaluated to allow the representative system to prevail and that the UJ puts a stop to such outrageous rules and reinstates Feinberg into the class of 2007 election. This was an unfortunate introduction to student politics for the class of 2007.