Overstuffed ballot invalidates portions of Student Association elections
by Lauren Mineau
Student Association election season is a special time of year, with glossy banners, head shots, dorm-storming and endless Facebook invitations. This year however, be prepared to cast your vote not once, but twice for a few of the categories.
According to an email obtained by the ASP sent by the SA Elections Commission, four elected positions and the student activity fee will have to be voted on again. The official date for students to cast their re-votes will be April 8 and 9 and will follow the same process through MyUAlbany.
The Election Commission explains that “glitch/issue” with the voting system used by SA resulted in the invalidation of the races for Social Science Senator and Humanities Senator as well as the vote to raise the Student Activity Fee.
According to the email, the voting system utilized by SA can only support seven campus wide elections at one time, and as a result votes cast for the final three spots on the ballot, Social Science, Humanities and the activity fee were not counted.
The email explains that the Commission was not aware of this issue previous to the start of the election process. Upon voting, students did receive an error message but were instructed to continue with the voting process regardless.
The email sent out to all students from the elections commission said the following to acknowledge the error message:
“NOTE: While voting, if you receive an error message indicating that there are still more candidates to be selected but you have selected the amount of candidates slated for each section, IGNORE THIS ERROR AND CONTINUE VOTING. This error is a glitch in the system that you can bypass just by clicking ‘OK’.”
“This is nothing but a negligence of duty and the elections commission must be held accountable by Student Association. I had spent my hard earned money, time and energy campaigning day and night for the purpose of this election. But the elections commission deemed it wise enough to play “cock and bull” with the candidates and their supporters. It is unacceptable,” said Beroro Efekoro, who is running for Senator-At-Large.
The Elections Commission explained that in the future, ballots will be pre-released to candidates for their review in an effort to avoid an issue like this from occurring again in the future. Chair of the Elections Commission Josh Ringel (who has since stepped down) stated that the email sent by the Commission was the official Election Commission statement at the time.
Some senators are directing their anger toward the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership (OSI) which manages the ballots and SA election process.
The races for Senator-At-Large and Business and Management Division Senator were invalidated due to a candidate placement issue. Candidate Bryan Meyers was inadvertently placed under the “Business and Management” division when he was supposed to have been placed under Senator-At-Large, according to OSI.
All candidates, except Meyers, were placed on the ballot correctly but there was a disconnect between the ballot itself and the database table that tallies the votes, causing some votes to go unrecorded according to Beth Conrad, Associate Director at OSI.
Although certain portions of the election have been deemed invalid, the rest of the portions are considered valid by the elections committee including the races for president and vice president.
Members of the elections committee said at the April 3 SA meeting that they are waiting to hear back from Information Technology Services (ITS) about what exactly happened.
In a document from Conrad,
which was distributed at the April 3 meeting, she stated “This problem has already been rectified in that ITS, the UAlbany office that oversees MyUAlbany, has already increased the ballot length limit for future elections.”
It appears the problem lied not only with Candidate Meyers being placed in the wrong category but the length of the ballot itself.
This was the first time all students were able to vote for all academic and division senators. Previously, students were only shown one living area to vote upon based on where they reside. This election, the ballot was stretched so far that it caused the errors.
“Simply put, there is a good deal of anger stewing, particularly directed at the Office of Student Involvement,” Senator Pat Cronin said in an email. “I share their sentiment personally, and I pity the elections commission, who might take some of the fall; OSI’s involvement in our elections is not only questionable to begin with, but the way they handled this and completely butchered the Student Association’s elections is just plain irresponsible. I share in the outrage, even though I am not particularly affected. It’s a serious indictment, and an outrage at that,” said Senator Pat Cronin via email.
As of right now, the votes for SUNY Assembly representative, Senator-At-Large, Social Sciences division and the student activity fee may be voted on again on April 8 and 9.
The ASP will update accordingly.