THE UST CENTRAL Commission on Elections (Comelec) is mulling amendments to the UST Student’s Election Code of 2011 (USEC), one of which is to raise the minimum voter turnout by five percentage points.

Comelec chief Moriah Mendiola said the poll body had finished drafting its proposal, which is still subject to approval of local Comelec units.

The USEC states that a failure of election shall be declared when the voter turnout is less than 25 percent of the total population of the electorate.

Mendiola said the Comelec wanted to add a residency rule for candidates who will run under accredited political parties.

Provisions on the impeachment process of Comelec heads were also included, she said.

The revisions in the election code will then be presented to the Central Board of Students, composed of presidents of local student councils, who will have to approve the amendments by a vote of two-thirds.

Francis Gabriel Santos, outgoing president of the Central Student Council (CSC) Executive Board, agreed that some parts of the USEC needed revisiting.

“There are provisions that need to be updated such as [compliance with the] academic calendar, the provision on the interpretation of abstain, and even the [financial provisions],” Santos said in an online interview with the Varsitarian.

He added that the interpretation of the abstain provision should be included in the CSC constitution for consistency.

“If there’s no provision in the CSC Constitution regarding abstain, and USEC has, it can be [declared] unconstitutional,” Santos said.

Mendiola, however, said Comelec had no plans to amend any provisions regarding the “abstain” vote.

Amendments to both the USEC and the CSC charter were sought after “abstain” votes dominated the student polls in 2017. Only two out of six positions in the council had winners, namely: Santos as public relations officer and Therese Gorospe and secretary.

Last year, the Comelec proposed USEC revisions to the election campaign period of CSC candidates and campaign expenses, among others.

Mendiola said Comelec had to start from scratch this year as the previous legal heads of Comelec lost the drafts of the proposal.

Comelec attempted to revise the USEC in 2015 but the effort did not push through due to “internal conflicts.”

‘Updated’ electronic voting system
Mendiola told the Varsitarian that central and local council election results would be computed automatically, unlike last year when manual computations were made for the local units.

She said the electronic voting system programmed by UST Computer Science Society would be retained for this year’s election, as the system was deemed “successful” last year.

There will still be no option to “abstain” in the ballots, in compliance with the order of the Central Judiciary Board in 2017.

A failure of election will be declared if the lone candidate won less than 25 percent of the vote.

Comelec approved on March 29 the official list of candidates in this year’s student council elections, with seven candidates out of eight from the preliminary list deemed qualified to run.

Lakas ng Tomasino Coalition standard bearer Worship Acosta was disqualified to run because of his failure to complete the required documents for candidacy, leaving incumbent CSC Secretary Robert Gonzales unopposed.

The campaign period started last March 30.

Room-to-room campaigns ended on April 13, while online campaigning continued until April 21.

The proclamation of the new central and local Executive Board officers is slated on April 27.

Comelec chief Mendiola, a computer science student, was the understudy of Arvin Bersonda, former Comelec chairman who led the poll body for two years.

She led Comelec’s efforts for the development of an electronic voting system last academic year. with reports from KARL BEN L. ARLEGUI


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