ASCLUG Candidate Disqualified From Senate Elections

The Associated Students of California Lutheran University Government elections last week brought the disqualification of the unopposed senior senator candidate and an 8.7 percent voter turnout of the undergraduate student body.

On the ballot were all four first-year senator positions, the senior senator position, one junior senator vacancy left by an individual who resigned because of scheduling and amendments to the ASCLU Constitution.

After two days of voting, Sept. 12-13, it was announced in a press release that senior senator candidate Kyrra Nielson was disqualified for a breach of the elections packet.

“She unfortunately did not turn in her spending packet…It says you will be automatically disqualified,” said ASCLU Senate Director Alexis Ghattas, referring to the “spending review” portion of the elections packet, which states that a spending review envelope must be turned in by 5 p.m. when the election cycle closes.

After encountering a situation in the spring in which two candidates were disqualified, ASCLUG has now added an appeals process to the elections packet. Appeals are made to a judicial board chaired by Vice President of Student Affairs Melinda Roper and are conducted like a conduct meeting, ASCLU President Nick Steinwender said.

“This election, we’re changing how we do stuff so we’re adding in the complaints and appeals process,” Steinwender said.

Steinwender said that Nielson has chosen to appeal the election committee’s unanimous vote to disqualify. He said the position would have typically deferred to the candidate with the next highest number of votes, including anyone with more than two votes. In this election, one write-in candidate received two votes, but is studying abroad, Steinwender said.

If the judicial board decides to uphold the election committee’s decision to disqualify, Ghattas will be allowed to appoint an individual after Oct. 1 with majority approval of Senate.

Another new feat of the elections this year is that the elections committee unanimously decided to release voting percentages, a policy that will stand for all future election cycles.

“We kind of agreed that in order to kind of continue our mission on increasing our transparency as a student government, it’s something that we wanted to report,” Steinwender said.

The runoff election this Wednesday, Sept. 19 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. will be between junior senator candidates Thomas Little and Kaitlyn Loughlin. Voting will be available on Blackboard.

According to ASCLUG’s press release, 278 students voted in last week’s election.

“It’s one of our lowest voter turnouts,” said Steinwender, who added that voting was promoted through tabling on the Spine and at the Foamalicious Foam Party last Wednesday, Sept. 12.

Steinwender said the goal was to have a 30 percent voter turnout. He said ASCLUG will be “taking a step back” and reevaluating how to encourage voting before the executive cabinet elections in the spring.

Only two first-year students, Samantha Hostetter and Mariah Zermeno, were on the ballot as official  Senate candidates. Josyua Gatison and Tacie Johnson were elected as write-ins. Gatison had 12 votes and Johnson had six, according to the press release.

Four first-year representatives have also been appointed to Programs Board: Edward Curren, Kelsey Gomez, Riley May and Adam Souza.

Dakota Allen

Editor’s note: This article was updated to reflect that the judicial board will be reviewing the election committee’s to disqualify, not the Senate’s.