Results for the recent ASUWT elections were announced on May 14, hours before a judicial hearing was held to acknowledge a submitted elections violation report. The violation brief, written by Senator Michael Lockwood read in part, “I am deeply concerned that some candidates received advantages, unintentionally, throughout the course of the elections due to a facial violation of the ASUWT By-Laws.” Lockwood submitted a violation report on May sixth, citing different areas where ASUWT failed in the election process, and proposing that the election results be deemed invalid.
While ensuring not to blame any individual within the organization, Lockwood states in his brief that “the myriad of co-created circumstances could associate partial blame with every ASUWT Official.” He said his goal in the report was only to make sure that every candidate be given equal opportunity.
The first issue arose from the forming of the Elections Administrative Committee (EAC). According to ASUWT By-Laws in section 501.01, “The EAC shall be comprised of at least three (3) members: an EAC Chair and two (2) volunteer members. These individuals shall hold no other elected or appointed position within ASUWT.” Without these three committee members, no election is allowed to take place.
Bryce Anderson was appointed as Chair of EAC in February of this year, and Lockwood stated that in March Anderson sent out a request to ASUWT students for elections committee volunteers. The report said that Anderson is said to have met with a student, and that Senator Lockwood himself spent a lot of time attempting to recruit volunteers, claiming that an interested student emailed Anderson and received no reply.
According to 501.03 of the By-Laws, the EAC is supposed to be appointed by a two-thirds Senate vote during Winter quarter at the latest, meaning the recent elections were held outside of the By-Laws restrictions. Lockwood’s brief explains that this technical error affected the elections. Apparently EAC Chair Anderson was unable to attend candidate forums in which campaign information was given, leaving President Pierini and Vice President Mumtaz to present vital information “without preparation” such as campaign dates. ASUWT campaign material was also not available online until the Wednesday after the campaigns had started.
Lockwood cited the fact that more than 100 students, about 25-30 percent of the overall vote, cast their vote within the first few days of the campaigns, hence the elections were dramatically affected because candidates were unsure of the start dates. A few candidates attempted to email Chair Anderson about campaign rules but received no reply, so some candidates were able to campaign indoors while others were told they couldn’t, and two write in candidates were completely unable to reach an ASUWT Official about running.
Freshman Scott Campbell was allowed to present at the Executive Candidate Forum and his name into the elections pamphlet, but was removed the day of elections due a By-Law disallowing freshman to do so. Lockwood stated at the end of his brief that the By-Laws may have been changed by the Senate but never updated on the UW website. Campbell was unable to be reached for comment.
May 14’s Judicial Board hearing about Lockwood’s violation report came to the conclusion that even though Chair Anderson and others tried to fulfill the EAC committee requirements, “ignoring the By-Law and proceeding with an election ultimately led to the chaotic nature of the election.”
Allowing a freshman to run without properly checking information and revoking his candidacy on the day elections began, “ultimately discredited the ASUWT professionalism and reliability,” read the official hearing report.
ASUWT President Elizabeth Pierini agrees with the invalidation, and said of the situation, “I’ve seen remarkable aptitude for our members to come together over adversity, and I think this leaves a legacy that when we make a mistake, we go back and we fix it.”
A special election will be held in lieu of the last one “swiftly and effectively.”
Recently elected ASUWT President Peter Pentescu said of the invalidated elections, “I feel like we had a clean and fair election. It’s unfortunate that the students expressed their voice once and now they have to do it again.”
Never feeling that one candidate had an advantage over another, he disagrees with Lockwood’s violation report that stated misinformation was given to candidates. “It’s a structural issue, yes, but what we need to focus on is moving forward and doing everything by the book.”
Alexander Yuly, elected into the VP position, said that ASUWT members are doing a “fantastic job of coming together in a quick and efficient fashion to resolve this,” and that another election is simply to ensure that the organization is “held in strict compliance with our bylaws and procedures.”
During the upcoming election, Yuly will change his position and run for VP instead of the presidential position, working in tandem with Pentescu, who will rerun for president, calling it a “natural fit” that he’s very excited about pursuing.
The change in the campaign is about “respecting the voice of the students, and the belief that people made an honest and fair choice,” said Pentescu. “We’re going to offer them the chance to keep that.”