Oped: Breaking down the failures of the fall election and why you should care
Much attention has been given to the SU fall election regarding the technical errors within the online ballot form and the inefficiency of the Election Commission.
At the beginning of the election (12:02 a.m.), voters were able to choose more than the permitted maximum number of candidates. The ballot was soon updated to fix the issue, but voters started having trouble submitting it, and non-ArtSci students were able to vote for ArtSci Council. Approximately five hours later (4:56 a.m.), the errors were “fixed.” Election Commission was notified about each of these failures and released several updates of the ballot, but submissions during the updates were unregistered.
We don’t know the exact number of votes lost, but it is reasonable to assume that many students started voting at midnight, which was not late at all for us college students. In fact, this mishandling might very well have contributed to the extremely low turnout rate of this election—below 15%.
Due to these aforementioned issues, the Constitutional Council has found that the fall election was “improperly conducted” because of three proved breaches of election rules: “electronic errors preventing students from voting, voting for a position that one is ineligible to vote for and voting for more than the permissible amount of candidates.”
Now you might be surprised and wondering why we, as voters, were never notified about this failure on election day or later, despite three emails of “Vote!!” spamming our inboxes. Or maybe you were already suspecting something fishy from the delayed release of results. It is not absurd for us to view the Election Commission as clandestine in their attempt to solve their failures.
Besides the lack of consideration and clarification in their handling of this technical difficulty, we have reasons to believe that the ballot had even more flaws than what is already known. For every SU election, the roster on the ballot is supposed to be randomized to prevent implicit unfairness—let’s be honest, a lot of us would just open the WUGO website and check off the names on the top of the list and hit the “Submit” button to save time. Therefore, a fixed roster on the ballot is inherently unfair against candidates with their names at the bottom of the list, and it has been a standard procedure in each SU election to shuffle the candidate list every time the website is accessed by a new voter.
However, based on feedback from several candidates and confirmation from many voters, it was highly possible that the order of candidates’ names on the ballot stayed uniform. Students who voted also recalled that the names of new candidates running for their first term were placed at the bottom, whereas the names of several incumbent SU officers occupied the top of the list. In other words, there could have been a failure of the randomization process.
All of these incidences have set a negative precedent, one that could possibly affect future candidates. The lack of candidness and openness from the Election Commission has us concerned about future elections. How can we prevent this from happening again? The Election Commission, and particularly the election commissioner, need to be held responsible for handling this election in a way that does not reflect the values of the Student Union. The past election cycle contained several missteps and has revealed the inadequacy of the Election Commission. These failures cannot be ignored or brushed aside, for the sake of the Student Union and for the sake of our shared values as students.