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McGann Elected As Next UA President

By Kevin R. Lang

Though election results were delayed until early Tuesday morning, Matthew L. McGann ’00 and Lex Nemzer ’00 were named Undergraduate Association President and Vice President following a relatively problem-free election.

“We hope that we can serve the students well,” McGann said. “We’re very happy with the results. We look forward to representing the student voice at MIT.”

“I’m happy and enthusiastic about winning, and I'd like to thank everyone who voted. We’ll be celebrating by watching the new episode of Buffy on Wednesday night,” Nemzer said.

All results for the three class council elections are being withheld pending recounts. UA Floor Leader Ryan K. Pierce ’99 said that several of the races were close enough to merit careful recounts and rechecking of the ballot totals.

Election results were delayed considerably because of the class council races. Despite the updated web-based voting software capable of automatically tallying votes, paper ballots had to be entered into UA computers by hand for counting. The UA did not release results until around 2:00 a.m. Tuesday morning, despite the fact that polls closed approximately seven hours earlier.

In an uncontested race for the two open UA Financial Board positions, Jennifer K. Chung ’01 and Jennifer Li ’02 were elected to FinBoard.

Turnout doubles from last year

Of the 4,187 eligible students, 1,320 or 32 percent voted in the elections, more than twice the number of students who voted in last year’s second of two UA elections. Around two-thirds of all votes cast were registered over the web.

Elections this year were largely free of the scandal and controversy that marked the 1998 campaigns. Then-presidential candidate Paul T. Oppold ’99 allegedly sent mass emails, a violation of election code stating that mail could only be sent to personal acquaintances. This year, mass emails were not specifically forbidden. “We sort of allowed that this year, but we required that the candidates have to take people off of their lists if they complain,” said UA Election Commissioner Gong K. Shen ’99. “We did get some complaints about email sent to non-appropriate people.”

The email violations, coupled with charges of questionable petitioning, forced the UA to run two separate elections in 1998. This year, the commission found only minor violations for postering and other publicity issues, Shen said. Some candidates allegedly wrote on institute walls and postered in inappropriate places, Shen said.

The Election Commission also required candidates to attend a meeting covering basic campaign procedures before any petitioning could begin, Shen said. She also noted that candidates had to use official UA ballot sheets to obtain signatures. According to UA election code, candidates cannot actively campaign while obtaining petitions. However, tracking down such violations can be difficult, especially since students often ask about candidates’ campaigns when signing petitions, Shen said.

Last fall, the UA was forced to hand-count votes for freshman elections, since the web-based voting software could not automatically tally them. Shen noted that an updated version of the voting program can now automatically tally votes, and paper ballots will be automatically tallied once entered into the UA computers.

The UA also experimented with new means of promoting student awareness of candidates and their platforms. Shen noted that the UA hosted an online discussion forum for students to talk with candidates for UA president and vice president. The UAP and UAVP debates were also broadcast on MIT student cable.