Kudos to the UBE

By David Wasserman
Published March 2nd 2006 in The Cavalier Daily
When I reflect on four years here at the University, I think a lot about the things that have changed since I first arrived on Grounds; most for the better, some for the worse. But one of the recent improvements in which we all take much pride is often overlooked: the creation of an independent University Board of Elections to run student elections.

Many fourth years might remember 2003's spring election most for the Daisy Lundy hate crime incident that marred its conclusion, as well they should. But that election and others prior were disastrous in another sense: Student Council's administration of its own elections and its constitutional authority to discount votes for elections violations created animosity and conflicts of interest and drove many members of the student body away from elections altogether. The system was broken and change was long overdue.

When the ad-hoc elections reform committee convened in late spring 2003 to draft a constitution for a new, independent student elections authority, we had high hopes that impartial administration, instant runoff voting and fairer election rules would increase confidence in the elections process on the part of candidates and voters alike. Now in its third year, the UBE has exceeded all of my original expectations. Gone is the acrimony of yesteryear. Numerous members of the UBE have served the University community selflessly and professionally, and this year's ballot error aside, elections have proceeded without so much as a hiccup.

But the proof of the UBE's success is in the pudding. When members of an electorate have more confidence in the way elections are run, they tend to vote in higher numbers, and the UBE's tenure has coincided with a remarkable increase in student turnout -- a true victory for student self-governance. Congratulations to the UBE on another job well done in 2006.