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Old UA Election Code Exclusive to Outsiders

The editorial "UA Should Avoid Mid-Election Changes" [Feb. 24] states several inaccuracies which, as author of the recent election changes, I would like to correct.

First, it is not the case that the old election code "seemed acceptable a few months ago." The old election code was designed to exclude non-UA people from office. It did so by setting very high signature requirements, and prohibiting campaigning until after it is too late to get on the ballot.

Last year's elections made it painfully clear just how exclusive the electoral process is. Out of 29 races, only 8 were contested. Seven races were uncontested and in fourteen races ZERO candidates entered. In almost every race the number of signatures required to get on the ballot exceeded the number of votes required to win (i.e. defeat the second place candidate).

The same Tech opinion page that now condemns the electoral changes then repeatedly crucified the UAP/VP teams for their lack of qualifications and vision. When other teams observed the lack of good candidates and decided to run for UAP/VP, they were denied a place on the ballot and were not even permitted to participate in the debates and study breaks.

Second, the new election code does not change the number of signatures directly. It gives the election commission the ability to lower the signature requirements. The new code requires the election commission to permit people to enter the race late (but penalizes such people by making them wait three days before campaigning), and it removes the prohibition on campaigning before all the petitions are turned in. Finally, the new election code permits the election commission to delay elections past the third Wednesday in March (March 15), a right the election commission has chosen to exercise.

In a second resolution passed at the Feb. 13 UA Council meeting, the UAC voted to lower the signature requirements to 400 for UAP/VP, 100 for important class offices, and 50 for all other offices. Because the council has since decided that these numbers would confuse the electoral process, the final numbers are actually going to be 440 for UAP/VP, 220 for Finance Board and 110 for class officers.

Under the old election code, the election commission was prohibited from setting signature requirements lower than 440 for UAP/VP, 440 for FinBoard, and 110 for all class offices. These numbers, particularly in the case of FinBoard, which will likely need to fill seven spots, are absurd. They discourage students who are genuinely outraged at the poor job the UA is doing, so that only students who view the time spent gathering signatures as an investment in their resumes wind up running.

The resolutions that passed the UA Council on Feb. 13 required a three-fourths vote, and were all passed either unanimously or with a single dissenting vote. This occurred because the members of the council realize that the UA is doing a pathetic job, and believe that elections with a high level of participation are required for there to be any improvement. The Tech should be ashamed for its endorsement of the exclusive election code responsible for last year's elections.

Jason W. Solinsky '94