Editorial: Riddle us this

Published On:
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
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Why did the chicken cross the road?

To tell the Tempe campus Undergraduate Student Government to stop taking its place as one of the predominant old overused jokes, we would presume.

While we very much support the concept of student representation in university issues, we find it very difficult to get behind the student government body that is shaped yearly by its “oy”-inducing spectacle of an election process that only yields, at best, a 4 to 5 percent voter turnout.

For those who would look to blame an apathetic student body when it comes to voter turnout, we hear you — kind of.

Why should the student body support a process that devolves into a high-school-ish battle of egos? Why should anyone want to take seriously something that takes them for a fool?

Looking back at the USG elections held during the past five years, it is impossible to avoid stumbling face-first into a pile of unflattering words — election violations, disqualifications, court challenges. Other than last year, not a single election has avoided being forced into a runoff.

In 2004, the Sophie O’Keefe-Zelman-led ticket won in a runoff election against the Zachary Gingg-led ticket.

In 2005, a seven-ticket scrum turned ugly when, among other controversies, the David Werner-led ticket contested the final election results over a number of alleged campaign violations by the eventual winner, the Yaser Alamoodi-led ticket. After Alamoodi — who later resigned anyway — took a runoff election by a couple dozen votes, the protests and the fallout of the protests lasted until June.

In 2006, the Ross Meyer-led ticket went to a runoff against the Richard Sales-led ticket. They also went to the ASASU Supreme Court, which disqualified the winners — Meyer and his running mate, Liz Simonhoff — before later overturning its decision and reinstating them.

In 2007, a Simonhoff-led ticket beat a Shawn Casher-led ticket by 22 votes in a runoff election. Casher, barred from campaigning for 5 critical hours in the wake of election violations, appealed to the Supreme Court to no avail.

In 2008, current president Mark Appleton found his ticket to power after an ugly process of election-violation investigations led to the disqualification of his contender, Josh Pittel. The court appeals by Pittel were fruitless.

This year, five tickets — fronted by James Alling, Sarah Atwill, Raza Mushtaq, Brendan O’Kelly and Christina Rocks — will turn up on the USG ballot.

As far as we can tell, it’s so far, so clean for the lot — but there’s a tradition to uphold. We’ve already found ourselves ready to print up the “Candidate X appeals USG election result” and the “Candidate Y cries foul in runoff” headlines.

There are two outcomes to an election: You can win, or you can lose. Both sides of the coin require class and dignity, but in the past, none of the parties involved have displayed much of either.

Perhaps this year will be the one that is different, the one where USG crosses that proverbial road and sets a positive tone — a tone that enables Tempe’s undergraduates to finally stop turning a cold shoulder toward electing their representatives, a tone that reflects a respectable democratic exercise rather than a three-ring circus.

It’s a bygone conclusion that four candidates will fall on the not-so-fun part of this game — having their bids come up short.

Now the question remains: Will they finally spare us the drama and fall with grace?