Claims of a botched student government election in Newing College sparked a revote last week, but student government leaders are now claiming that even the second election was conducted unfairly.
Travis Rochon, an undeclared sophomore, was initially left off the ballot for Newing’s Sept. 22 elections for the Student Assembly. He called for a repeat election on the grounds that he was improperly informed of election proceedings. The Ad Hoc Elections Committee ruled in Rochon’s favor, and the SA held a re-election Oct. 2.
The outcome of the re-election ousted one of the original winners, Tyler Albertario, a freshman majoring in political science, and Rochon was elected in his place. Albertario lost to Rochon by a single vote.
Members of Newing College Council have since complained that the SA refuses to conduct the third vote.
After the re-election, the Newing College Assembly Executive Board filed a grievance to the Rules Committee against the Special Elections Committee of the Student Assembly alleging improper election proceedings.
In their grievance, the Newing College Assembly Executive Board claims that ‘a large population of Jewish students were unable to vote due to their observation of the Sabbath.’
The board reasons that since the time conflict prevented these students from voting, the re-election violated the SA Constitution and the Student Association Bylaws Article which states: ‘Every Student Association member must have equal opportunity to cast a vote for the election in his/her community.’
The Speaker of the Assembly, Randal Meyer, a senior triple-majoring in philosophy, politics and law, philosophy and English, claims that Jewish individuals had time to vote since sundown on Saturday, Oct. 2 was at 6:54 p.m., which left one hour and four minutes for people to cast their vote.
‘The time of the election was specifically set so there was ample time after sundown for any religious conflicts,’ according to Meyer.
However, Danielle Kutas, a sophomore majoring in management and an Assembly representative for Newing, insists that ‘many people would not be able to vote in the Newing elections,’ because of Sabbath. Kutas claims that, as a resident assistant, she knew of a number of students who were prevented from voting because of the timing of the election.
According to Jessica Franklin, a sophomore majoring in management and the president of the Newing College Assembly Board, concerns of the timing of the election were sent via e-mail to Meyer. Meyer said that no concerns were voiced to him until after the election.
Franklin and Nicholas Jacobson, a junior majoring in history and the academic vice president of the Newing College E-Board, spoke on behalf of the board.
They claim that the version of the electronic voting system that was implemented by the SA, www.surveymonkey.com, permitted individuals to cast votes in other people’s names, to accidentally void their own ballot or intentionally void other people’s ballots.
Franklin and Jacobson claim that because the voting system only required the student’s username and was not specifically linked to individual e-mails, any student could have voted with anybody else’s username.
‘So, I could have taken anybody’s last name’ and cast a ballot, Kutas said.
Franklin and Jacobson also claim that some people might have accidentally voided their own ballots. Franklin said that because students did not receive a confirmation e-mail from their first vote, some voted twice in an attempt to make sure their ballots were cast.
E-mails from the Assembly Speaker to Newing College, informing them of the re-election, failed to indicate that both of the students’ votes would be void if the student attempted to vote twice; the e-mail only stipulated that the students should vote once.
Meyer claimed that approximately 10 votes were invalidated and that there is no way of knowing if those invalidations were warranted or not.
The electronic voting system, www.surveymonkey.com, which was implemented in some communities for the first time this year, was utilized in the Newing re-election in order to ensure that the election for SA representatives from that community could occur in time for the SA Assembly meeting. In this way, Newing could be represented in the SA and the Assembly could convene, Meyer said.
The outcome of the grievance will be decided by the Rules Committee. The committee will hold a hearing on the matter on Thursday, Oct. 14.