October 6, 2005

Glitch Forces S.A. Revote

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A technical error has forced a revote for the freshman Student Assembly (S.A.) representatives, said Mike Powers, director of operations of University communications yesterday. The election for transfer representative still stands and the winner is set to be announced today.

The revote will occur between 8 a.m. Oct. 17 and 8 a.m. Oct. 19.

The Office of Assemblies (O.A.) took responsibility for the error.

Powers praised Cornell Information Technologies (CIT) for their help with the election, and said the problem was not within their control.

“They pointed out two or three bugs [in the software],” he said. “One of the people in [the O.A.] just didn’t fix one of the bugs.”

Powers said that the glitch gave one candidate the votes of another candidate, in addition to the first candidate’s original votes, while the second candidate received zero votes.

Josh Katcher ’06, student trustee and director of elections, praised the candidates’ enthusiasm and effort.

He said the high level of participation – over a third of eligible freshman voters – was “unprecedented” and a testament to how hard those running had worked to turn out the vote. Katcher said that the S.A. was not at fault, and that the elections committee did its job of publicizing the elections. He pointed to the 16 combined candidates and high turnout as evidence. He also encouraged all candidates to run again in the new elections.

Campaigning for the new race will begin next Thursday.

Both Katcher and Tim Lim ’06, president of the S.A., said that anything less then a new vote would call into question the integrity of the elections. Both stressed the need for legitimacy, especially after election concerns last year raised questions about the assembly’s student mandate.

They also said that they understood how upset some candidates were about having to continue campaigning to an electorate that one candidate said “hates us.”

“When I woke up this morning,” Lim said, “I wanted to see somebody’s head roll for this.” The candidates expressed similar frustrations with the elections.

“This is completely ridiculous,” said Daniel Budish ’09. “I think the election is going to be just as invalid as if they chose us at random at this point.”

Cj Slicklen ’09 said that “It’s disheartening that we have to go through this again.”

He added that the other 11 candidates “were a great group of people.”

As a group, the candidates expressed concern that this not be seen as another black mark in the S.A.’s reputation.

“I hope this doesn’t de-legitimize the S.A. as a whole,” said candidate Lauren Wein ’07. “I hope the class of 2009 can change all this for the better. This is an example of what we need to change.”

The setback came after significant modifications were made to the election process to improve student confidence in the S.A. These included making two minor violations grounds for possible disqualification and having two faculty members sit as non-voting members on the elections committee.

“We are extremely proud of the fact that students came out to vote … We hope they will do that again,” said Peggy Beach, director of the O.A.. “It’s important to have a fair and honest election, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Katcher also addressed rumors that students could vote twice for a candidate on different days. He said that it may appear that students could vote twice from the same NetID, but only one of those votes was counted.

Shai Akobas ’07, a candidate for freshman representative, said that he went through the process twice, voting for his running mates, and that a confirmation screen told him that his vote was counted each time. Unlike last semester’s elections, which were performed by third-party vendor ElectionTrust, the voting was hosted by the O.A. with assistance from CIT. Powers said that there are “issues surrounding the continuation of ElectionTrust that we’re trying to work out.”

“It’s fully our intent to have a robust, secure system for the spring elections,” Beach said. This year, however, worries remain about what sort of numbers the revote will see.

“I just hope the turnout is somewhat significant again,” said candidate Elyse Feldman ’07. “And not just the 12 of us.”

Archived article by Michael Morisy
Sun News Editor