After the failure of the bills proposed in hopes of increasing voter turnout, President Krystah Pacheco and Vice President Mikenzie Chessman soon after created a petition to do the same as the failed bills.
Bill 9F would have changed the constitution by combining Spring Presidential and Senatorial elections and Bill 10F would have been an extension of this bill to the ASUNM lawbook. Both failed at the Full Senate on Sept. 27.
“Our priority is to let the students have a say on this decision with its placement on the ballot and at the time of elections,” Pacheco wrote in an email addressed to the Senate on Oct. 9.
The petition, according to the email, received enough signatures – 81 in total – in five and a half hours to be considered for the upcoming Senatorial elections, given the petition is sent and accepted by the Elections Commission.
The signatures were collected without the knowledge of the Senate.
At the previous Senate meeting, multiple Senators voiced their opposition against combining the elections for fear of a superslate. Some ASUNM Senators found it was unnecessary and instead called for more outreach – including the co-author of the bill, Senator Alfred Achusim.
“My issue (with the petition) is that there is no real plan that will actually increase voter turnout. We are just artificially combining the numbers,” President Pro Tempore Gabriel Gurule said.
The petition has yet to be sent to the whole student body. The petition was supposed to be made accessible to students this past week, although nothing has been sent yet. It is anticipated to be sent soon, Gurule said.
“It is within their student rights (to create a petition). The only issue of it was the Senate finding out … There were a lot of frustrations with the miscommunication of not knowing what this was,” Gurule said.
In the email sent to the Senate, Pacheco addressed several situations that surrounded the failure of both bills. The email was sent a week and a half after the Senate meeting on Sept. 27 when several comments were made by Pacheco and Chessman about their disappointment in the Senate for the failed bills.
“I apologize for the bluntness of my remarks, but I stand by their sentiments,” Pacheco wrote, regarding the comments made at the prior Full Senate. Earlier in the email Pacheco writes, “(This is to) encourage a Senate that is engaged with their constituents and completes adequate research before meetings.”
Discussion of polling stations and their pricings — an alternative presented by Senators to increase voter turnout during the last Senate meeting – were discussed throughout Pacheco’s email. Setting up a single polling station would cost the Senate a total of $10,000 each election, it reads.
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The issue with voter turnout is not a matter of inaccessibility to voting, it is of inaccessibility to knowledge on what and who they are voting for, Montoya said at the Sept. 27 Full Senate.
“(Students said) that the big thing was just to do more outreach and use marketing so they know more about it,” Montoya said.
As of right now, the petition has not yet been sent to the Elections Commission and will not be put on the ballot until after the Commission has seen and verified it.
Karina Bolaños is the Culture Editor at the Daily Lobo. They can be contacted at email@example.com