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Online voting glitch postpones SA elections

Associate News Editor

Published: Friday, November 12, 2010

Updated: Thursday, November 11, 2010 20:11


Gregg Twergo/Cardinal Points

Student Association President Charlie Peppers speaks at the State of the SA two weeks ago. Peppers said those involved with the election day glitch acted effectively to deal with an “unpredicatable and unfair” situation.

The Plattsburgh State Student Association elections that were to be held last Tuesday have been postponed until Tuesday, Nov. 16, due to a computer glitch.

Because of the mix-up, the Board of Elections decided to postpone the elections around noon last Tuesday. By 12:30 p.m., the program was disabled, said Scott Johnson, director of the Angell College Center and adviser to the SA Board of Elections.

"There was an issue with the programming of the ballot that appeared online," Johnson said. "It pertained only to the senate."

The ballot directed students to vote for one senator when it should have directed students to vote for 21. Johnson said it wasn't discovered until an hour into the election, when a student came into his office and notified him.

"We looked it over first thing in the morning," Johnson said. "We checked all the candidates and everything looked fine, and we missed it."

The ballot asked for one pick instead of 21 because during last year's election, there had been a tie between the 21st and 22nd students running for SA Senate. There was a special run-off election in order to resolve the tie and the ballot was never changed back.

"Even though it only affected the Senate, the Board of Elections felt it was unfair to the Senate to waste time and effort campaigning today," Johnson said. "They made the decision to postpone it and start over with the correct labeling."

Chair of the elections board, Joel Collado, said he was in class when the problem was discovered and received several calls from Johnson. Protocol is for Johnson to tell him, and for him to inform the other members of the board.

After Collado got out of class at 11:30 a.m., he was able to inform three of the four other board members.  The fourth member was unavailable due to extenuating circumstances.  The majority voted on pulling the election, Collado said.

Collado said he also consulted other faculty and SA members including Scott Johnson, Bryan Hartman and current SA President Charlie Peppers.

"We felt that we needed to make the best decision possible," Collado said. "Not just the best, but the one that would make sure that the elections were fair. The best thing to do was to make this fair and right by fixing the mistake."

Collado said some people were upset by the decision, but the board is comfortable with its decision because it wanted to make sure people were being represented fairly.

Peppers said he felt the Board of Elections handled the situation well.

"They acted very effectively and in a short amount of time to a small crisis that was unfair and unpredictable," Peppers said.

Candidates pay out-of-pocket to make fliers, T-shirts and other campaign paraphernalia. They are given a $100 limit.

"We decided that with the help of the SA board, we were going to renew the $100 expenditure, and on top of that, we're going to refund all candidates' expenditures prior to the postponement," Collado said.

The SA will be the organization refunding the money to candidates, not the Board of Elections, Collado said.

In order to receive the refund, candidates will have to present proof their purchases were spent on the campaign and their costs didn't exceed the $100 limit.

"Most people campaign on the same day as the elections," Collado said. "That's when they really go and enhance their campaign so, we took that into consideration."

The presidential candidates for the 49th legislation had mixed reactions to the schedule change.

"(Campaigning has) been a very stressful and nerve racking election, and I was excited to be relieved of all that tension," presidential candidate Mike Brennan said. "I definitely understand that things happen sometimes."

Current Vice President of Finance PJ Shah, Brennan's opponent in the presidential election said the situation was a bit stressful.

"I spent a lot of time preparing for the election," he said."

Shah stressed that the SA is not responsible for the computer glitch.

Both candidates are feeling optimistic about the week to come, as they now have another week to campaign.

"I put in a lot of hard work for this week, but being optimistic, this gives me another week to advertise stronger and get familiar with more people," Shah said. "I hope the people that voted for me will still remember to vote for me next week. As for those who haven't, I'll try to reach out to as many as possible and give them my platform."

Brennan is also taking the week to come as a positive for his campaign.

"I hope to find out what happens soon because I am very excited about this election and I hope I get it," he said.

Brennan said the ACC staff will be keeping the campaign posters up for another week.

"This makes the election more fun, because now it's more competitive," Shah said. "Now the SA as a whole has one week to promote this event."


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