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Letter to the Editor: The USGT administration is illegitimate

Judah Waxelbaum calls ASU student government troubling, broken

Letter to the editor graphic

"Dear State Press, you've got mail." Illustration published on Friday, March 3, 2017.  

This week the Palmer executive ticket was sworn in, ending a USG election cycle that lasted well over two months when it was only supposed to span two weeks. 

Many are happy that this chaos has come to an end, and for a good reason. That said, we should all be deeply troubled by how we arrived at this conclusion. 

Undergraduate Student Government is broken, and the USG Tempe elections make that remarkably clear. This incoming USGT administration is, at best, illegitimate. 

Let us begin with the absolute mismanagement of the election. The Elections Commission and USG made it through months of conversations without realizing that they misallocated the senate seats

Upon realizing the error, the commission attempted to change the rules unilaterally only to be stopped by the USG Supreme Court. One candidate who had dropped out, submitted no required documents after his initial filing and should have been disqualified, won an election

The ASASU Supreme Court ruled out of convenience and ignored election code. By reading this cycle’s Supreme Court rulings, you will find unimaginable levels of inconsistency. In the case of College Libertarians v. United Voices for ASU, the court dismissed the case because they did not have jurisdiction over First Amendment issues or the Student Code of Conduct. 

In the case of Jester v. Fees, which decided the USGT election results, the basis of the complaint was First Amendment violations. The Fees ticket, which earned 344 more votes than the Palmer ticket, was disqualified, with most infractions being carried out by campaign supporters, not campaign staff. 

Students who are not official campaign staff are not held to the Elections Code of Conduct. By ruling that they were, the court formally declared wrongdoings by parties that were not eligible to be ruled against. When the students listed argued this violated their rights, the court spent a month “reassessing” their decision only to stand by their initial ruling. 

This ruling dismissed 54.2% of the votes cast for the executive race. Palmer received 45.8% of the vote, which per elections code makes the ticket ineligible to assume the office. 

Per 4-2.10 of the elections code, “The winners of the executive race shall be the ticket that receives a majority of votes.” Even with the Fees ticket disqualified, the votes they received are still calculated in the vote total, meaning the Palmer ticket failed to reach a majority. 

When this was brought to the USG court’s attention, the Chief Justice, who was appointed by an endorser of the Palmer campaign, wrote that a new election, as required by elections code, would be “an incredible waste of time and resources.” 

ASU is the largest public university in the United States. Our student government cannot just make things up as they go along. 

USG is broken, that is a sentiment held across all sides of the ASU political spectrum. Unfortunately, it does not appear that USG will be fixed any time soon.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this letter to the editor are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors. This letter to the editor was submitted by Judah Waxelbaum, an ASU senior studying political science. He also currently serves as Chairman of the Arizona Federation of College Republicans.

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