April 9, 2018

EDITORIAL | Why the Wait on Student Assembly Election Results?

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It has been 11 days since Student Assembly polls closed. Over the past week and a half, students have left and returned to campus for Spring Break, and the final decision on the disqualification of presidential candidate Varun Devatha ’19 has been made, and yet we are no more informed about the results than we were in March.

Late on March 28, the evening after the polls closed, Devatha was disqualified from the election for using a Cornell University logo in campaign materials in violation of election rules. He petitioned the elections committee to reconsider his disqualification, which the committee declined to do, leaving Devatha with one final option: an appeal to the judicial codes counselor, Kendall Karr grad. Karr may have the power to reinstate disqualified candidates if she finds that the committee was biased in their enforcement of election rules.

Karr has since shared her decision with the Office of the Assemblies, but that decision will not be made public until the Elections Committee has convened one final time. That meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening.

The delay is largely a result of Spring Break, but it is also a symptom of an unacceptably convoluted process. The decision has been made, so why must Cornell wait until Wednesday to hear it?

The Sun reported today that there is some support from S.A. members for changes to the elections rules, which is certainly a positive sign, but that support must be translated into action. In order for election challenges and result announcements to be prompt, elections cannot be held the week before Spring Break.

Even after the results of the appeal are announced later in the week, information about elections challenges will still be lacking. Documents recording the proceedings of settled challenges can be viewed only during in-person visits at the Office of the Assemblies, and they cannot be copied, photographed or transcribed. This information should not just be available, but accessible; challenges, especially successful ones that affect democratic elections, should be published online. When the S.A. writes next year’s election rules, that’s the first step they should take toward transparency.