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Commission denies election protest

By Charles R. Jankowski

The Undergraduate Association (UA) Election Commission voted Friday to deny protests lodged by Robin L. Barker '85 and David M. Libby '85. The pair had protested a discrepancy in Wednesday's class elections.

Barker said Sunday she is considering an appeal to the UA Council.

Inge Gedo defeated Barker for the Class of '85 presidency by 16 votes. Libby failed in his bid to become senior class treasurer. He lost to Adrian C. Wang by 31 votes.

Barker and Libby contested the election on a question over the number of seniors who were eligible to vote. The Alumni Association listed 23 more seniors than did the Office of the Registrar. Barker and Libby contended that those students should be allowed to vote.

But Election Commissioner Dan O'Day '87 said only those students listed on the Registrar's official role were eligible to vote.

That discrepancy could change the outcome of the race for the Class of '85 presidency. It would not have any effect on the treasurer's contest.

The Registrar considers the 23 students in question to be graduate students, which disqualified them from voting in the elections Wednesday.

The UA constitution states: "An undergraduate is a person who is considered by the Registrar ... to be making satisfactory progress toward one or more undergraduate degrees at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology."

The students in question include students who received their degrees in January and students who required more than four years to receive a degree, such as co-op students. Libby said those students are allowed to vote in Graduate Student Council elections.

Barker and Libby presented their cases to the election commission at a hearing chaired by O'Day.

"The students whose votes are in question are members of the class of '85," Barker and Libby wrote in a statement to the commission. "The Alumni Association tends to view them in this way, and more importantly, they view themselves this way."

"The Registrar's list is useful as a guide, but nothing more," the statement continued. "If there is a reasonable explanation for student's status as a `G,' then he should be allowed to vote as a member of his class. This is especially true for the permanent class officers, as they are basically alumni officers."

"Inge was concerned that all ballots for all offices should be recounted if the president's ballots are recounted," said Tamara L. Abell '87, Gedo's representative at the hearing. "It would be a poor precedent to just recount the one office," Abell continued.

Both Barker and Libby agreed that all races should be recounted if Barker's and Gedo's ballots were reconsidered.

Barker said she "had assumed that [the ballots in question] had been counted. I was given every indication that they would be counted." Barker said she "talked to several of the students in question, and they were not told that their ballots were in question."

"I had great concern," she added, "that students were not given the opportunity to affiliate with their class." Barker claimed she would have protested the results even if she had won by one vote.

Libby said he also would have protested, even if he was victorious: "I can't say for one hundred percent sure, but I would like to say `yes.' "

"I announced the rule to the election commission," O'Day said. When O'Day was asked whether he had informed the candidates of the rule, he replied, "not explicitly."

Election commission decision

The commission voted to classify co-op students in their entering class, O'Day said. Freshmen who become co-op students will still be considered members of the Class of l988 in five years. They will be eligible to vote in UA and the Class of 1988 elections.

January graduates will be allowed to vote in class elections, but not for the UA presidency and vice presidency, according to O'Day. Next year, co-op students will be eligible to vote in class elections only, he said.

The election commission will not consider any recount this year, he said: "This is a final decision. The election commission made the rules in good faith."

"What I heard was that the election commissioner acted in good faith, but the people who voted also acted in good faith," Libby said. "The election commissioner is here to serve the fairness of the election. The good faith of those who voted should take precedence over that of the election commissioner," he concluded.

"The commission basically told me that `Yes, the students would be granted the right to vote' ," Barker said, "but that they were going to start considering it next year. For the past three years, these student have had the right to vote. Why should my class have to suffer?"

Barker and Libby have the right to appeal the commission's decision to the Undergraduate Association Council. They would need the support of three fourths of all representatives present at the UA Council meeting to override the commission. Libby said that the UA Council "doesn't overrule [the election commission] very often."

Barker said Sunday that she was "still considering" appealing the election commission's decision to the UA Council. "I'm trying to decide what's best for all, including the other candidates," she said.

O'Day said, however, that "the decision to appeal has already been made. Robin left me a note telling me not to destroy the ballots, so my impression is that it will be brought up before the next council meeting."

O'Day believes Barker and Libby will raise a motion which would dismiss him from his position and call for the election of a new commissioner. O'Day would then hand all ballots over to the new commissioner, and "presumably" a recount would follow, he said.

The full UA election commission consisted of Commissioner O'Day, Carl A. LaCombe '86, Mark A. Foringer '87, Kathleen M. O'Connell '87 and Jeffrey J. Trester '88.