Staff Editorial from The Daily of the University of Washington

February 15, 2012

Love the cupcakes, hate the bribes

Last week the ASUW Board of Directors erased months of work done by the Judicial Committee — over cupcakes.
ASUW elections are still months away, but planning has already begun. Last week, the current ASUW Board of Directors approved the Election Policies and Procedures after removing changes requested by the Judicial Committee.
The eliminated provision would have prevented what multiple board members referred to as “bribery.” The approved policy still allows the candidates to continue to hand voters cupcakes while watching them cast their vote on a laptop in Red Square.
We’re OK with cupcakes as items to promote voting in the elections, but not as bribes from individual candidates.
We understand voter turnout was what the decision came down to for the board. Getting students to understand what ASUW is — let alone vote for eight positions — has always been difficult.
Last year’s Elections Administration Committee (EAC) chair said the integrity of the elections was linked to the quantity of the vote. If edible incentives are truly the only way to get the vote out, we don’t see any reason why the EAC can’t give out cupcakes to promote the elections. While it’s not a solution that would improve quality of the votes, at least the bribes wouldn’t be coming from the vote-seeking candidates.
We like cupcakes, but they say nothing about how a candidate will hold an ASUW office.
In the past few years, the EAC and many of the tickets have been working to get the numbers up. Last year, voter participation rose by more than 30 percent, and having more of the student population involved in choosing its leaders ostensibly leads to more accurate representation.
But the removed provision would have stopped candidate handouts to induce students to vote or refrain from voting only while polls were open. Such “bribery” would still be allowed in the two weeks of campaigning before the elections. When the board members can’t even let go of the last-minute rush of Otter-pop-induced voting, how can they be expected to accomplish what their offices require?
If it takes cupcakes to make students care about ASUW, which is funded by student fees, there’s a problem with the association as a whole.
ASUW board members are responsible for $748,856 provided by students. They sit on faculty committees, give recommendations to the provost, talk to state legislators regularly, and have jobs much more substantial than the student government we remember from high school that just planned senior prom — so why are campaign techniques so juvenile?
The Judicial Committee spent three months on the Election Policies and Procedures — one of its most involved projects of the year — only to have the board strike out what we see as important provisions, if only in principle.
A member of the Judicial Committee present at last week’s board meeting noted that many of the board members will be running for re-election. While no one has officially declared a campaign — and the election season doesn’t begin until April — historically, board members who are eligible to run again do so. We think this compromises their judgment on election policies.
This is the opinion of Editor-in-Chief Alison Atwell, News Editor Sarah Schweppe, Opinion Editor Katie Burke, Features Editor Hayat Norimine, Arts & Leisure Editor Robert Frankel, Sports Editor Josh Liebeskind, Copy Chief Kristen Steenbeeke, and Copy Chief Andrew Gospe.