All of the information on this page and its subsequent links are taken from the Davis College Green Party website: www.ucdgreens.org.
In the Spring of 2004, the Davis College Green Party started two related campaigns to make the ASUCD government more transparent and accessible. The first was in response to ASUCD’s failure to post their government documents online, 10 months after a bill passed requiring them to do so. The second was in response to ASUCD’s failure to release the ASUCD Election ballot data in accordance with the ASUCD Constitution. The Davis College Green Party was successful in both campaigns and the details can be found on this page. In addition to getting these documents and the ballot data online, the campaigns also pinpointed some problems of communication and accountability in ASUCD’s structure that were partially addressed by ASUCD.
Releasing Ballot Data
On April 21, 2004 the ASUCD Elections Committee decided to begin releasing electronic ballot data for ASUCD elections. After each ASUCD Election, Creative Media posts the ballot data with the results on the ASUCD Elections website. This lets the public verify the Choice Voting tally, and lets the public better analyze Choice Voting’s success in representing voters.
The Davis College Green Party requested the ballot data for the Fall 2003-2004 Senate, Winter 2003-2004 President, and Winter 2003-2004 Senate elections and began to post them in a directory on their website for the convenience of others. After graduating from UC Davis I began storing and organizing this information and eventually created this website.
Here is the Aggie coverage of the campaign:
- Elections Committee releases Choice Voting data, 4/23
- Elections committee chair was misrepresented, 4/15 letter
- Increase transparency of election results, 4/13 editorial
- More honesty needed from ASUCD, 4/13 letter
- Court Chair sits elections case out, 4/8
- Davis College Greens file complaints against ASUCD, 4/7 (originally written 3/16)
During the campaign the Davis College Green Party had a page on their website with details and arguments about the issue. That page has been archived below and provides several more links and much more information.
Open Democracy in ASUCD
Another Green Party campaign
The Green Party believes all elections should be open and transparent, including ASUCD elections. We also believe that people in government should act with integrity, with frankness, and in good faith.
Right now ASUCD is breaking its own Constitution and its own Election Codes by refusing to release election data from the 2003-2004 ASUCD winter election. Why are they refusing?
The right to access election data is important. An open democracy increases public trust. It gives the public an entryway in case anything were to ever seem suspicious.
We also want to evaluate Choice Voting. The Green Party believes that a full analysis of the election will help everyone better understand the benefits of Choice Voting and how it works. We’ve already begun such an analysis without the data, but it is necessarily limited in its scope:
The Public’s Right to Access
The ASUCD Constitution guarantees the right of the public to have a copy of the election data.
Article II, Section 5 and Article III, Section 3 (2) of the ASUCD Constitution both read:
“To permit an independent count of the ballots, the rankings cast by ballot shall be made available to the public upon request.”
The voters passed this by 67% in February 2003. Why is ASUCD thwarting the will of the voters?
The ASUCD Elections Codes repeat this even more explicitly. Chapter One, Section 110 (7) of the ASUCD Government Codes reads:
“Pursuant to the ASUCD Constitution, the Elections Committee shall provide to any ASUCD member, upon request, an electronic copy of the rankings cast by ballot in that election.”
Why are they disobeying their own codes—the ones that provide for public oversight?
Who is ignoring the ASUCD Constitution & Codes?
Several ASUCD officials are complicit in violating the ASUCD Constitution and voters’ will on this, including
- ASUCD Student Government Advisor Vicki Swett
- ASUCD Creative Media Director Alex Park
- ASUCD Business Manager Mark Champagne
- ASUCD Elections Committee Chair Mary Ball
Each of them could get the election data released if they really wanted to, and none of them have even spoken out in support of the Constitution. Why aren’t they upholding the Constitution?
What is their explanation?
The officials say there is a “security risk,” but none of them ever say what the risk is. Doesn’t the public have a right to a real explanation that has actual meaning?
The California Aggie reported the following in an online article posted Monday, March 15—
“However, Swett said that the person who created the elections program recommended that ballot rankings not be released in electronic format for security reasons.
‘I was told that releasing ballot rankings could compromise elections in the future,’ she said.”
Vicki Swett is referring to Alex Park here. Did Vicki think to ask Alex what the risk actually is? What is the risk?
But if you ask Alex, he says it was Mary Ball’s decision since she is the Elections Chair. But Mary Ball doesn’t know much about computer security, and she says she made the decision with the advice of Alex Park and Vicki Swett and Mark Champagne. It’s hard to pin down the responsibility, isn’t it?
Here is an explanation in flowchart form.
But still, what are these “security reasons”? And how can the ballot rankings for this election affect the results of the next election?
The answer is simple. They can’t!
ASUCD actually offered to print the ballot rankings as an 800+ page bound document, to be stored exclusively in the SGAO office. But this isn’t in the spirit or letter of the law. It doesn’t let the public perform an independent count. It’s not in an electronic form. And it’s wasteful and inconvenient. Why are they purposely making things inconvenient?
More on this can be found in this satirical but true press release about the document:
This anonymous release seems satirical, but all of it is actually true (except for the part about the typists).
ASUCD TO WASTE COLOSSAL AMOUNT OF PAPER FOR NO REASON
800+ page document will be printed, bound, and confined to 348 Memorial Union
NEWS ADVISORY EXCLUSIVE!
For immediate release: March 11, 2004
DAVIS – After closed deliberations, four ASUCD officials have decided to print 800+ pages of computer data for no clear reason. The 800+ pages will be available for public viewing in room 348 of the UC Davis Memorial Union during regular business hours. Admission will be free and open to the public beginning at a time still to be announced.
ASUCD staff members ordered the print job after students requested an electronic version of the data from a recent ASUCD election. The officials opted against using a contemporary digital format and chose instead the more primitive, more costly, and maximally inconvenient format known simply as “paper”.
The unusual decision was made by a committee of veteran staff members including ASUCD Student Government Advisor Vicki Swett, ASUCD Business Manager Mark Champagne, ASUCD Creative Media Director Alex Park, and ASUCD Elections Committee Chair Mary Ball. This is not the first time their preference for paper has shown.
According to Ball, the 800+ pages will be “bound and kept in SGAO.” This is similar to the manner in which the ASUCD Constitution, Codes and Bylaws are stored. Apparently the document will have no say in the matter, for Ball has stated definitively that “it will not be allowed to leave SGAO.” The public security risk of the pages, if any, could not be determined at press time.
Students had simply wanted to tally the data for evaluation purposes, a constitutional right guaranteed by the ASUCD Constitution. But by converting the data from digital into paper format, officials preempted that possibility. Any analysis would now require a Herculean grassroots effort on a scale never before achieved.
The data would first need to be converted painstakingly by hand from paper back into its original machine-readable format. At 30 words per minute on a laptop, students would need to type inside room 348 for approximately two and a half months straight — provided they are present during all regular business hours.
Volunteer typists with good data-entry experience are actively being sought. It was not clear at press time whether the SGAO will allow typists to use chairs, ergonomic or otherwise.
Says one student, “I have to hand it to them. The committee’s decision is a bureaucratic stroke of genius — a classic stonewall. The waste of paper is equally impressive.”
Says another, “It’s brilliant. The data was electronic to begin with. So by printing it onto paper they effectively made it impossible to analyze. It’s almost as if ASUCD has made things less convenient for students. The customer service is amazing, a tour de force — a true model of efficient, responsive, and just plain old good government.”
If the information is safe enough for paper, then why isn’t it safe digitally? After all, the paper data could be typed into a digital format given enough time. So what’s really going on here?
Why there is no security risk
Releasing the rankings would increase the election integrity because it would let the public verify and evaluate the results.
In fact, the San Francisco Elections Department is planning to release the ballot rankings for their own IRV elections in an electronic form—just as ASUCD is refusing! Read pages 5-6 of this report prepared by the Center for Voting and Democracy:
It reads in part,
“In short, by releasing sets of ballot records (voters’ rankings) as soon as possible after the close of polls, the city will provide the public with a significant assurance that voters are being counted accurately.”
Recall the quote by Frederick Douglass:
“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” (1957)
Green Party members have filed a formal court complaint against Vicki Swett and Alex Park. They are also planning to file a Student Judicial Affairs complaint against Mary Ball. We have no other choice when ASUCD officials refuse to uphold their own Constitution.
ASUCD should instead act with integrity. They should provide the ballot rankings in a usable digital format. We expect that the ASUCD student court, the Campus Judicial Board, and the campus public will agree.
The efforts of the Davis College Green Party got ASUCD to follow its own Constitution and Government Codes. The DCGP members thanked several people after the success of the campaign. They were tremendously thankful to all the students, student officials, and student organizations that publicly supported the efforts and stood up for student rights.
Petition for Open and Transparent ASUCD Elections
The following students, student officials, and student organizations publicly supported the campaign by signing this petition:
(You can download the original petition and fact sheet here.)
To: ASUCD Elections Committee, ASUCD Creative Media, ASUCD Student Government Administrative Office
“We the undersigned call on ASUCD to respect the ASUCD Constitution, the ASUCD Government Codes, the express will of ASUCD voters, and the public’s right to conduct an independent ballot count, as guaranteed and protected by the ASUCD Constitution; ‘by releasing to the public, in a usable digital format, the rankings cast by ballot in ASUCD elections.’ ”
- Davis National Organization of Women (NOW)
- Choice USA
- Davis College Green Party
- Davis College Democrats
- Third World Forum
- Gabriel Bang, ASUCD Senator
- Darnell Holloway, ASUCD Senator
- James Ackerman, ASUCD Senator
- Teresa Kenny, General Manager KDVS 90.3FM
- Sonia Feldstein, President, ACLU at Davis
- Hilary Hodge, President, Davis National Organization of Women (NOW)
- Jilian Epp, President, Choice USA
- Katherine Nellums, President, Davis College Democrats (DCD)
- Avi Singh, Vice President, DCD
- Jonathon Leathers, President, Davis College Green Party (DCGP)
- Kimberly Kunaniec, Chair, ASUCD Environmental Planning & Policy Commission (EPPC)
- Mona Jodari-Karimi, Chair, ASUCD External Affairs Commission (EAC)
- Victor Mezhvinsky, Chair, ASUCD Business & Finance Commission (B&F)
- Donnie Oliveira, Director, Whole Earth Festival
- Caleb Hervey, Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)
- LeVale Simpson, EOP
- Eunie Lee, President, Chi Delta Theta
- Michael Siminitus, Treasurer, ACLU
- Emily Schnoor, Co-captain, Equestrian Team
- Lindsey Krabbenhoft, Secretary, DCGP
- Thu Ho, Secretary, Davis NOW
- Oanh Tran, Publicity Commissioner, Vietnamese Student Association (VSA)
- Jenny White, ASUCD Internal Affairs Commissioner
- Ruben Arevalo, Computer Research Specialist
- Frank Printo, Computer Research Specialist
- Gary Sharpe, Computer Research Specialist
- Farhan Syed, Muslim Student Association (MSA)
- Sabiya Raja, MSA
- Umbreen Arshad, MSA
- Donya Saied, MSA
- Ahran Iqbal, MSA
- Fatima Husain, MSA
- Carlos Montes, UAW 2865
- Ben Wang, Third World Forum (TWF)
- Ms. Neshani Jani, TWF
- Sandra Ramirez, TWF
- Joshua Savala, TWF
- Jessica Wilson, Davis NOW
- Lauren Lederer, Davis NOW
- Lauren Hilliard, Davis NOW
- Alicia Leupp, Davis NOW
- Yvette Diaz, Davis NOW
- Mary Anne Adelsbach, Davis NOW
- Kaelyn Mulligan, Davis NOW
- Courtney Gertler, Davis NOW
- Brian O’Hara, Davis NOW
- Cora Micsunescu, DCGP
- Sonny Mohammadzadeh, DCGP
- Denise Cicala, DCGP
- Jennifer Ellis, Choice USA
- Tracy Rickey, Choice USA
- Solana Phillips, Choice USA
- Jennifer Nicol, Choice USA
- Claire Dobransky, Choice USA
- Paul Amnuaypayoat, Davis College Libertarians
- Zachary Amendt
- Brian Neft, ACLU at Davis
- Nicole Freimann, ASUCD CoHo employee
- Hiep Le, Pi Alpha Phi
- Olivia Pyun, Chi Delta Theta
- Arutyun Tersaakyan, Epsilon Sigma Rho
- Angela Verarde, Lambda Sigma Gamma
- Angela Abruzzese, art studio
- Nicole Hogan, psychology
- Katherine Ip, microbiology
- Brandon Caliguiran, EE
- Adrian Mitre, biology
- Usha Philip, psychology
- Yohei Miyauchi, economics
- Kimlong Dinh, biology
- Wilhelmina Saelua, psychology
- Elizabeth Mullaney, genetics
- Vivian Fan, economics
- Marek Luntungan, economics
- Caroline Jordan, sociology
- Marlene Olson, comp lit.
- Dana Tam, human development
- Jeff Mohr, engineering
- Maria Calonge, biology
They also thanked the ASUCD Elections Committee, the Commitee Chair Mary Ball, and Alex Park for finally releasing the data. They offered their thanks to the California Aggie for their supportive editorial at a key point in the campaign.
March 17, 2004 – ASUCD documents now online
Success!! Green Party efforts were successful in getting ASUCD to post their goverment documents online! They are now posted at—
After a 10 month lapse of inaction, ASUCD finally posted their documents online after a formal ASUCD court complaint was filed. The complaint was filed the week of March 8 by Jonathon Leathers and Mike Siminitus, President and Vice President of the Davis College Green Party. This makes the documents more accessible and saves hundreds of sheets of paper.
In May 2003, the ASUCD Senate passed a bill requiring ASUCD to post its documents online. The Green Party noticed ASUCD was not doing this even after nine months, so Greens filed an ASUCD complaint in March 2004. The Aggie wrote an article about the complaint: Davis College Greens file complaints against ASUCD.
This complaint caused Creative Media to work on an efficient way for SGAO to upload documents to the web on its own, ultimately leading Creative Media to make the ASUCD website accessible and editable by the appropriate individuals without the need for Creative Media to edit everything.
The Davis College Green Party thanked ASUCD’s Creative Media for its work on this.