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Sanjay Rao Wins 2002 Presidency

By Kevin R. Lang

Despite many problems, the identities of the new Class of 2002 officers were released late last night.

The election was plagued by the omission of a candidate from the original ballot, an extra day of voting, and substantial delays in reporting results to candidates.

Sanjay K. Rao '02 was elected president for 19981999, and Jimmy C. Chang '02 will serve as vice president. Mendel Chuang '02 is treasurer, and Teresa H. Ko '02 is the Class of 2002 secretary. Bhumika M. Patel '02 and Gregory C. Townsend '02 were elected as social chairs, and Catherine B. Chen '02 and Annie K. Wang '02 are the new publicity coordinators.

Voting began on Thursday, but the ballot was incomplete. Presidential candidate Kapil Rastogi '02 was not included in the original ballot, resulting in inaccurate voting for most of Thursday. Several other candidates informed the Undergraduate Association election commission of the error.

Rao said that he was "not exactly sure how it affected the election. I'm hoping it was basically fair in the end."

Rastogi declined to comment on his initial absence from the ballot.

According to UAelection officer Chris D. Smith '01, the 93 votes cast on Thursday were ignored. Freshmen who voted on Thursday were notified by e-mail of the correction to the ballot and the need to re-vote.

However, Leah Schmelzer '02, a candidate for president, said that this policy was a poor idea. "I know there were people who found it too much of a hassle the first time so they thought Why bother going back?'"

The ballots of those who did not come back to re-vote should have been counted in the final tallies, Schmelzer added.

Voting continued until Sunday at midnight. Over the three days of official voting, only 227 freshmen cast their ballots for class officers. This is only 21 percent of freshmen class, compared with 35 percent who voted last year.

FLP and FSP dominate elections

Almost all of the new Class of 2002 officers participated in the Freshmen Leadership Program or the Freshmen Service Program.

Rao, Chuang, Patel, Townsend, Chen, and Wang all arrived early for FLP, while Chang came for FSP. Only Ko, the new secretary, did not participate in either program.

In the entire pool of 37 candidates, 19 had attended FLP and four had participated in FSP.

Undergraduate Association President Paul T. Oppold '99 said that he "actively told people other than [FLP participants] to run.

Oppold was "very disappointed" that seven of the eight winners had attended a pre-Orientation program.

However, Chuang said that FLP taught its participants very little about leadership skills, but the program did influence the elections.

Even with the new Web based voting system, election results were delayed considerably. While the new program noted who voted and when, it did not total the votes for each candidate.

UA election officers had to count votes by hand, and they needed to re-count the close races for vice president and social chairs late Monday night. The voting program was not capable of tabulating votes with the UA system of preferential and write-in voting.

The text-based voting system used on Athena in previous years did automatically tally the votes, Oppold said.

Many candidates for freshmen offices waited through Monday's UA councilmeeting, hoping to hear some news from either Smith or Election Commissioner Seth Bisen-Hersh '01.

However, the only mention of freshmen elections regarded the new voting system, which will be used in the near future for a plebiscite on the freshmen housing situation.

The voting system was hailed by the UA as a vast improvement over the Athena program used in the past. However, the Athena default version of Netscape did not support the new voting software; voters instead had to run a newer version of Netscape from the command line.

The UA plans to update the program by the spring elections so that votes will be electronically tabulated, Oppold said.

Final results were released in an e-mail sent to candidates around 11:45 p.m. yesterday evening. The new officers will be officially sworn in at the UAmeeting next Monday.