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USG diverts from last year, runs complaint-free elections

In contrast to a controversial election last year that resulted in over 15 complaints on Tempe alone, 2017 is looking clean

"We don't always like how campaigns end." Illustration published Wednesday, March 29, 2017. 

"We don't always like how campaigns end." Illustration published Wednesday, March 29, 2017. 

Despite an increasingly negative political atmosphere, ASU's Undergraduate Student Government managed to run an election completely free of complaints.

ASASU Election Commissioner Dhara Shah said that she hadn’t seen a single issue or complaint in this election so far.

“I would definitely say, especially compared to previous years, it has been pretty clean,” Shah said. “We have not had any complaints filed or anything like that as of today.”

Shah said that she actively made sure to ensure the elections were clean since the beginning.

“It’s something that from the beginning I have reiterated to all the candidates; that we should all have a clean election season,” she said. “I reinforced that by ensuring that they knew the election code and what is and what isn’t allowed, and I think that really helps play a part."

This is a diversion from the increasing trend of negative campaigning, both at the national level and at USG.

Brian Ruben, who held Shah's position last year, said that there were dozens of problems over the course of the USG election in 2016. 

“The main stuff that I saw was over social media,” Ruben said. “A lot of it had to do with the controversy surrounding the DeGravina ticket app with the profile picture drop that had the code stolen by the Bishop ticket.”

That issue ended up causing a run-off election after a suit was filed over violation of USG's election code.

Read more: USG election suit decisions favor Bishop ticket

There were also a lot more complaints, compared to none this year.

“I think there was a total of 18 or 19 complaints just on Tempe. A lot of them were petty and I dismissed them outright,” Ruben said.

Last year's USG election fit in with a controversial and negative national campaign.

According to a CBS/NYT poll conducted in March of 2016, Clinton and Trump received the highest unfavorable ratings for presidential candidates in decades.

Matthew Dempsey, a doctoral student at ASU specializing in the study of negative campaigns said that 2016's presidential election could set precedent for more ugly campaigns in the future.

"Unfortunately, I think this election opened Pandora's box,” Dempsey said. “Any strategic politician is going to look at this election and see that it works.”

Dempsey also said that the negative national campaigns could effect local campaigns.

“I think this can of worms has been opened, and it has been shown to be electorally effective,” Dempsey said. “So any strategic politician would recognize that and could choose to use that tactic in the future.”

Dempsey said that the negative campaign culture could effect more local campaigns as well.

“It could absolutely cascade down to more local campaigns,” Dempsey said. “A strategic politician or candidate, if they think that kind of rhetoric would frankly be rational to choose to do so from a cost-benefit analysis perspective. “

Regardless of the national trends, USG members conducted a campaign that had no negative campaigning in 2017.

Reach the reporter at or follow @isaacwindeschef on Twitter.

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