Constitutional Council upholds flawed election results

| Senior News Editor

Student Union Constitutional Council voted unanimously not to rerun SU’s Nov. 5 elections following an interpretation request from a petitioner who alleged that the election was improperly conducted.

The petitioner, a student who experienced difficulties voting, claimed that the election should be rerun on the grounds that “the electronic election ballot contained glitches and mistakes which allowed voters to violate election rules.”

One such error was that students not enrolled in the College of Arts & Sciences were able to vote for candidates running for ArtSci Council. Additionally, although voters were directed to select up to 11 candidates for Senate and Treasury, voters reported being able to select more than the limit. This led to a two day delay in releasing the results, which were sent in an email from Election Commissioner junior Randal Walker to the student body, Nov. 8.

The Council agreed that the election was improperly run, but decided that the election should not be rerun due to time constraints, the fact that election results had already been released and the potential impact on voter turnout.

According to a statement from the Council emailed to all members of SU and posted on the SU website, the election would have been rerun “in an ideal world.”

The Council reached out to the Election Commision for input during their investigation, but they were not available at the time.

According to sophomore Kevin Wang, the associate justice who wrote the statement, timing was a major issue because the winning candidates were previously set to be inaugurated on Tuesday. Since SU had already paid for speakers and catered food, the Council determined it would be in their best monetary interest to keep the current results.

Another major reason for the ruling was the Council’s belief that conducting a second election less than a week after the first would negatively impact voter turnout, “affecting results more so than the electronic flaws of this election,” the ruling read.

The Council also claimed that, because the initial election’s results had already been released in an email to the student body from Walker, knowing the results might influence the way candidates campaign and unfairly skew the initial results.

The Council recommended to the Election Commission that the results not be released until after their investigation was over, but the Commission said in their press release to the student body that they felt it was constitutional to release the results beforehand.

“It is disappointing to see the Election Commission’s willingness to affirm a flawed election on the grounds that there would be no difference in results,” the document read.

Walker declined multiple requests to comment.

According to Associate Director for Campus Life Beth Doores, the Election Commision is responsible for creating the ballot and can reach out to Campus Life if issues arise.

“The Election Commission is really responsible for their voting instrument,” Doores said. “We from a technical side will come in if the elections commissioner is needing support to whatever degree.”

Will Atchinson, a Campus Life technology specialist, who also helps to advise the Election Commission, was out of the office due to illness during the voting period, but was given the ballot to review before it went live. He said that things on the ballot had been changed from the time he saw it to when it went live, and that the selection for ArtSci Council was not on the ballot at all when it was given to him to review.

“I was out during the period, so I do not know exactly what transpired,” Atchinson said.

The Constitutional Council emphasized its disapproval of the manner in which the Election Commission handled the election, but said that their decision is the best option given the circumstances.

“The results of this election must stand,” the document read.

Election Commission members Jamel Griffin, Destiny Jackson, Richard Sims, Samuel Mendenhall and Olivia Stevermer did not respond to requests for comment.

Chief Justice Eric Cai did not respond to requests for comment.

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening as Washington University returns to campus.

Subscribe