Student association will increase budget to ensure poll security
The Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) has increased funding for election security in the wake of last year’s invalidated elections.
At a regular council meeting on Sept. 22, the council moved to increase the elections operations budget by $7,000 to hire more security. The new elections operations budget of $16,000 will be divided evenly between the election and by-election held during the 2017-18 academic year. The motion passed 24-1 with three abstentions.
Interim ASFA President Julia Sutera Sardo endorsed the motion. “Having been VP Internal in the past, I know how contentious elections can be, especially with ASFA,” she said. “If we want to move forward, I think this is a great direction.”
“Our goal this year is to stick to procedure to guarantee ASFA elections run properly,” Interim VP of finance Francesco Valente told the The Concordian.
A lack of security at polling stations contributed to ASFA’s general elections in March being invalidated. Starting in the 2015-16 academic year, ASFA chose to increase the number of polling stations around campus, but did not increase the security budget. According to Valente, the original 2016-2017 election operations budget of $4,500 per election was no longer adequate.
According to ASFA’s website, this lack of security led to “several security breaches.” These included several ballot boxes being left unsealed with only one person to supervise them, The Link reported in March. Section 232-F of ASFA’s standing regulations states that, “Ballot boxes must never be left with one person unless sealed.”
Furthermore, according to section 232-B of ASFA’s standing regulations, “Every ballot box must be accompanied by a campus security guard from the moment they leave the strong room in the morning of voting to the time that they are returned each evening.” According to The Link, this regulation was violated as well.
Valente said he doesn’t know why security was not increased to match the new demand.
Since the elections were invalidated, each council member is officially only serving in an interim capacity. In order to keep their positions, they will have to be re-elected during the fall by-elections, which are scheduled for Nov. 20 to 23.
Valente said $3,360 is the “absolute minimum” additional funding required for each election to ensure proper security. This funding will be used to hire security guards for the polling stations.
The money needed to increase the budget will come from the Member Association Special Projects Fund (SPF), which currently stands at about $32,300. Valente said any money that is left over after each election will be returned to the SPF.
According to Valente, this budget is only for ASFA elections. Member Association (MA) elections, during which executives for each MA are elected, are not mandated to implement the same security measures.
Photo by Kirubel Mehari