Commissioner addresses ethical, technical problems

By Gus Bode

Ethical and computer problems that surfaced in this week’s student government elections should be amended before voters take the polls next year, election commissioner Ken Washington said Tuesday.

Washington said a candidate’s grievance and technical problems some students reported, such as difficulties accessing the electronic voting Web site, would be part of his report to the next election commissioner.

‘This laid the groundwork for next year,’ said Washington, who is also executive director of the Student Programming Council. ‘I wouldn’t say this was the best outcome, but it was good for what it was. It was a start for something we can build on.’

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Washington said an unsuccessful candidate in the Undergraduate Student Government presidential election filed a grievance Tuesday. He said he could not say which candidate issued the complaint or why it was filed, but said President-elect Priciliano Fabian and running mate Ashley Epps were not involved.

Messages left on the cell phones of presidential candidates Vincent Hardy and Dana Agusto were not returned by press time Tuesday night. Julian Rios, Hardy’s running mate, said he was unaware a grievance was filed.

Washington said candidates could file a grievance if they have reason to believe competitors were breaking election rules, such as campaigning within 50 feet of a polling place. Most of the on-campus polling places – tables with volunteers who encouraged students to vote on the Web site – did not contain computers Tuesday, with a sole exception of the Student Center polling place, which had three computers students could use to vote.

Brandon Love, a junior from Chicago studying business marketing, supervised the Student Center polling place. Love said he saw Hardy’s Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity brothers distributing flyers near the tables.

The USG Constitution says candidates are allowed to have a poll watcher at all polling places. Fabian said revising the constitution to include a clearer definition of what makes an area a polling place and determine the role of poll watchers could solve illegal campaigning.

Epps said she hopes any revision to the constitution would also prevent students with connections to the candidates from volunteering at the polling places.

‘ ‘You can’t poll watch and campaign,’ she said.

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The election was the second time in university history students cast ballots through an online election service. Last month’s special election to appoint a replacement student representative to the SIU Board of Trustees was the first time paper Scantron ballots were traded for the online election service.

Some of the technical problems from the March election remained this week, said

Katherine Sermersheim, director of Student Development. She said she helped more than 150 students who had trouble logging into the Web site with their Dawg Tag number.

Sermersheim said students who have their university’s e-mail account listed as a private address were unable to log in.

The electronic system was put into place to make voting more convenient for students, Washington said. He said the system also keeps election results more accurate than paper ballots.

Exiting USG President Chiquita Watts said she was pleased with the electronic system despite the glitches because it attracted more students to vote.

She said 1,467 ballots were cast in the elections, an increase of roughly 120 compared to last year’s turnout.

Laptop computers were set up at the Student Center polling place Tuesday morning after students reported having trouble logging in, Love said.

Watts said the next election commissioner should try to make computers available at all campus polling places.

‘ ‘If we were to do that at all polling places we would have had more people to vote,’ she said.

Daily Egyptian reporter Barton Lorimor can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 263 or [email protected]

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