By Rebekah Kleinman & Aaron Mackey
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday March 3, 2003
Last minute appointment eases burden of elections commissioner
Student senators appointed Chief of Staff Sam Chang to the position of assistant elections commissioner Friday, only three days before the primary elections.
Student Body President Doug Hartz proposed the appointment of Chang to handle simple election issues, including poster appropriateness and filing complaints, in order to provide Elections Commissioner Jason Korner with more time to be as "fully accessible as he'd like to be."
The proposition did not come without questions and disapproval, however, from some senators.
Senators Will Harris and Victoria Ruan both opposed the appointment, and Travis Pritchett abstained from voting.
Our focus is on running the fairest election possible
Harris questioned Hartz's motive for appointing Chang, who already holds a stipend position and cannot be compensated for additional duties under ASUA bylaws.
"I'm still not sure that it's proper procedure; Sam already has a job," Harris said. "I just don't like the idea of doing it this late in the game."
According to Hartz, the appointment was necessary at this time to help Korner maintain his academic course load and social life.
In previous years, the assistant elections commissioner was a stipend position appointed by the elections commissioner with the senate's approval.
At Korner's initial appointment, however, a $30,000 budget cut within ASUA kept Korner from appointing anyone to the position.
While Korner does have two voluntary assistants, Hartz believes that the $350 stipend Chang already receives will hold him more accountable for any other responsibilities.
Hartz said he has observed that individuals who do not receive a stipend act less reponsibly, adding that Korner's current assistants are not approved by the Senate to make decisions regarding the election.
But according to the 2003 ASUA Elections Code, amended and approved by Korner, "The elections commissioner shall delegate any authority to the appropriate staff members of the elections commission."
Hartz told the senators that he consulted Korner regarding the proposal.
But not before putting it on the agenda and calling the special session, Korner said.
"I don't see what the timing has to do with anything. It's purely a decision to make sure the process takes place," Hartz said, calling the decision a preemptive measure that did not require Korner's approval.
"Doug saw a need for help in the near future," said Senator Adam Bronnenkant. "It is so important to have someone soon because it is so late in the game."
But Harris and Senator Jason Poreda both questioned whether or not the time crunch could have been anticipated, and whether Korner should have been notified sooner of the need for an assistant elections commissioner.
Last year, Assistant Elections Commissioner Talianna Kattan had to take over the duties of Elections Commissioner Joe Rogers, who was called to the National Guard during the elections.
Since appointed, Korner has already made significant changes to the elections process.
Most visibly, Korner said, is the absence of campaign banners throughout campus, a change that met much opposition.
"I'm upset as a candidate about the new rules. As an elections commissioner I understand it," said Kattan, who is currently running for the office of administrative vice president.
Faculty and administration became upset last year after candidates put banners in areas not designated for that purpose, Korner said.
"The candidates overstepped their bounds," he said.
In addition to the banner ban, Korner also made it illegal for more than one candidate's name to appear on campaign material. Each candidate is given a spending limit for campaign expenses, and if two names appear on one poster, they get twice the publicity for the same price.
"Our focus is on running the fairest election possible," Korner said.
Candidates can publicly support another candidate, as long as both their names do not appear on material.
At Wednesday's ASUA candidate forum, Melanie Rainer wore a pin stating "Vote J.P. Bendict for President," and Benedict wore a similar pin that read "Vote Melanie Rainer for Executive VP."
"I don't think it's really an effective rule. I think it's a silly rule," Rainer said. "We're (Benedict and Rainer) running together. We work well together. Look at the past. Ray Quintero and Sam Chang worked very well together. We want to be elected together."