The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 87.0°F | Mostly Cloudy

Candidates React with Anger

By Reuven M. Lerner
News Editor

Candidates for Undergraduate Association office were generally surprised by the Wednesday afternoon theft of a ballot box, and expressed anger at those who took the box from Lobby 7.

"Basically, I think it stinks," said Mark A. Herschberg '95, a candidate for class vice president. "It is incredibly rude of these people, after all that has been done by the candidates, to just steal the ballot box and call the election into question."

UA presidential candidate Shally Bansal '93 agreed, saying, "It's annoying: that's one reaction I have. But I also find it despicably disgusting."

Bansal said that she originally thought the theft was a hack, and even thought that it was "kind of funny," assuming that "the ballot box would show up at the UA office last night, maybe with some commentary taped to the ballot box."

Once it became clear that the ballot box was not going to be returned, Bansal became upset. "If they're trying to make a statement, there are many ways to make it, and that's not the right way to do it."

Herschberg said that there is a difference between hacking and taking a ballot box. "If it is a hack, or even not, you're not supposed to do it to the point where it hurts someone else... . they're clearly hurting other people, damaging other people -- Cambridge property, even."

"I'd really like to see them caught and prosecuted," he added.

Candidates prefer Friday

Students who originally voted in Lobby 7 may vote again today, according to UA Election Commissioner Raajnish A. Chitaley '95. Most candidates agreed that it would be better to hold elections today than Wednesday, when the UA had originally scheduled the second election.

Reshma Patel '93, a candidate for class president, said she was originally in favor of holding the second election on Wednesday, but changed her mind when she realized that holding the elections today would not "give people time to campaign."

"My worry," she added, "is that people aren't going to hear about" today's elections.

Bansal felt that "if we want the election to be a fair one and a legitimate one, what we have to do is hold another election [for all students]." Some other candidates echoed her concern.

"The election's important enough that it has to be legitimate," she added.

UAP candidate Stephen A. Rinehart '93 disagreed. "Throwing away 1,000 people's ballots that are legitimate seems like a waste. They will get a much lower turnout if they do the whole thing over. There's no reason to throw out the rest of the ballots."

"There's nothing you can really do to ensure this will be an ultimately fair election, as if nothing had gone wrong," Herschberg said.

Election commission blamed

While the majority of candidates felt neither the election commission nor the students running the voting booth were to blame for the theft, a number thought the theft could have been avoided if the commission thought more about potential problems.

"The election commission has been rather disorganized," said Mehran Islam '95, candidate for class secretary. "They haven't shown much interest in the whole thing; they haven't been enthusiastic" about the elections.

UAVP candidate Anne M. Tsao '93 disagreed: "I trust the election commission's judgment. Their commitment to the candidates and to the UA means they probably came up with the best solution."

Rinehart said that the commission was partly to blame for the theft, but "I don't think it'll happen again. I think it's something they didn't consider. If I were on the election commission, it's certainly not something I would have uppermost in my mind."

"It's not a big deal. It's just annoying," said David J. Kessler '93, Bansal's running mate. "I just assumed MIT students were more intelligent and more mature."