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A Fresh Start for the UA

The suspension of the Undergraduate Association presidential and vice-presidential elections brings a much needed fresh start to an election whose credibility has been seriously eroded.

By suspending these races which have been tainted by postering violations and the questionable removal of Chris Smith and Patrick Kane from the ballot, the election commission has taken a positive step towards restoring the faith of the student body in the UA in the wake of yet another election debacle. While starting the election for a third time kills what little enthusiasm is left for this process, the suspension will help the UA return integrity to the electoral process.

Furthermore, allowing class council and FinBoard elections to continue is a valid decision as these races were not affected by the missteps which plagued the UAP/VP elections. Hopefully these races can salvage what little student interest is left in the electoral process.

The decision to suspend the elections also returns Smith and Kane to the ballot. In removing the candidates the election commission was acting in accordance with its pre-defined rules. These rules, however, are vague and of questionable merit. Had the election continued, the election commission would have been justified in leaving Smith and Kane off the ballot because the commission would have been enforcing predefined rules. Consistent enforcement of rules is a necessity for any well-run election.

Since the election has been restarted, however, a clean start mandates that Smith and Kane return. The decision to restart the election acknowledges that the rules were vague and suspect. We urge the commission, given this opportunity, to reconsider their rules for the upcoming rerun of the election. In the next election, the UA should allow candidates more freedom in campaigning in order to encourage student body interest in the elections. In addition, all candidates should return without the taint of sanctions from the previous election.

As the UA has colossally fumbled web-based voting, it must now make the additional effort to go to the students and encourage voter participation. The UA should consider paper balloting -- taking place over the course of several days -- in order to rekindle some interest. A system of voting precincts would help bring the electoral process closer to students. For example, west campus students and fraternity, sorority and independent living group members could vote in Lobby 7 while east campus students could vote in Walker Memorial. Or the UA could open polls in the lobby of each dormitory in order to make voting easier for students.

While this election has turned into an utter disaster, this decision represents the best choice given difficult circumstances. Nevertheless, the next UA president will face a daunting task in trying to rebuild the beleaguered organization’s public image and effectiveness.