A runoff election in a Students? Association Senate race became necessary Wednesday morning when the All-Campus Judicial Council overturned a ruling made by the SA Senate Election Committee.
ACJC?s decision reinstated two ballots, each with two votes, which resulted in a three-way tie for two senate positions in the Hill Court area election. The election committee had disqualified the votes.
After the decision, seniors John Brach, Pete Sanfacon and Sean Sullivan each have 30 votes. Junior Lora Mar-den has 29 votes, and there were four write-in votes for other candidates.
ACJC heard the case at a hearing Monday night and gave its opinion Wednesday morning.
Brach and Marden had been announced as the winners Wednesday, Oct. 3 after the election committee ruled that two voters? ballots were invalid. The two voters had voted for Sanfacon and Sullivan on paper ballots in Wilson Commons. Without those votes, Sanfacon and Sullivan each finished with 28 votes.
According to the senate?s election bylaws, ?all voting must occur via an online voting system, except those undergraduate students using paper ballots which include those that have e-mail accounts that are locked, and those that are not on the Uhura system.?
Neither of the two voters in question fit into one of those categories.
ACJC, however, ruled that the two votes should stand. ??Those voting by paper ballots? includes, but by the text is not limited to, students that have locked accounts and students that do not have accounts,? ACJC?s opinion stated.
?We contacted Christina Plummer, consultant to [Information Technology Services], who administrates the Uhura/Mail vote program,? the opinion continues. ?She assured us that the two students in question had not voted via the online voting system, and thus only voted once in the area election.?
Junior and Election Committee Chair Adam Simmons said the runoff between Brach, Sanfacon and Sullivan would probably happen Oct. 22-23, following a campaigning period. Marden will not be on the ballot, but she will be able to run as a write-in candidate.
Simmons was unhappy with ACJC?s decision, since it allowed two people to vote on paper ballots, but ignored others who had tried to. ?People were being turned away from the election booth being told that if they have a telnet account, they have to vote on telnet,? he said.
Simmons admitted that allowing some voters to vote on paper and turning others away was an inconsistent way to run the election.
?I?m not happy with the ACJC decision, because it?s not fair,? he said. ?The whole process is corrupt. The only way to fix a corrupt process is to throw it all out and run the election again.?
At the hearing, discussion focused not on whether the votes should be allowed under the bylaws, but on whether disqualification of them warranted a new election.
Simmons argued at the hearing that the election should be redone. He said the voters may have been misled. ?During the election process, it was my perception that people could use the booth even if they did have an active e-mail account,? he said.
After the election, however, Simmons decided that the two voters should not have been allowed to vote on paper, when others had been told they could not. ?The election committee ran an election against the constitution,? he said at the hearing. ?And that?s why I think the election should be nullified.?
ACJC ruled that his initial perception, that voting was indeed allowed in the booth, was correct.
Part-time undergraduate and senate Public Relations Chair Daryl DuLong argued at the hearing that the votes should be invalidated and the result, with Brach and Marden as the winners, should stand. ?We have these laws for protection purposes,? he said. ?It would have been nice if these issues had been handled preemptively. But doing it alone, it?s a lot of information for one person to remember at one specific time.?
The opinion stated that the Election Committee should have made students aware of the rules. ?It is our judgment that the Election Committee does have such a responsibility and did err in not fully informing students of their interpretation of the bylaws,? the opinion stated.
Although the decision might leave her out of the senate, Marden won?t be left out of student government altogether. ?Regardless of the final outcome, I am going to remain on the Senate Projects Committee, so I will be active in the senate no matter what happens,? she said.
DuLong said a Web-based voting system, which might be more accessible to voters than the telnet system, is in the works. ?The senate does understand that a move to a Web-based system would most likely eliminate any human errors in the process,? he said.
?The spring elections would give us the best opportunity to launch the Web-based system for prime-time use. We plan on working very closely with ITS to make sure the final product is very solid.?
Bock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.