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UA Removes Three Candidates From Freshman Council Ballot

By Brian Loux


Two tickets have been dropped from the official ballot for the Class of 2005 elections, and problems with the voting system caused all votes cast during the first 16 hours of online voting to be discarded.

The Undergraduate Association Judicial Review Board decided Thursday to remove Emily I. Chang ’05 and Issel A. Lim ’05, co-candidates for Social Chair, and Shima Goswami ’05, a candidate for Secretary, from the ballot. Judboard found that Chang, Lim, and Goswami had begun campaigning before the time set by the UA.

JudBoard also revoked the rights of Jesse A. Alejandro ’05, a candidate for Treasurer, to poster on any bulletin boards controlled by the Association for Student Activities. Joyce Y. Chung ’05 and Kathy H. Li, running together for publicity chair, will no longer be able to poster ASA boards along the infinite corridor. Both of these punishments are due to postering violations.

Chang/ Lim and Goswami could still win on write-in votes.

Alejandro and Chung/ Li remain on the official ballot. Their sanctions only apply to ASA-controlled bulletin boards.

“We have no jurisdiction over the dorms,” said Judboard Chair Leah S. Schmelzer ’02. Each dormitory government controls its own bulletin boards.

Goswami feels that the decision was harsher than it should have been. “The decision was overly severe,” she said. “I don’t think that my violation of the rules warranted the sanction it received. ... It seemed they were acting to keep the election fair, but their ruling was not fair.”

Voting bug causes lost votes

A glitch on MIT’s voting website which led to the loss of numerous freshman votes caused the Undergraduate Association Election Commission to discard all votes from the first 16 hours of online voting. Freshman were alerted to this problem last night in an e-mail.

“Students are encouraged to recast their vote online, or by paper in Lobby 10 on Thursday,” said UA Election Commissioner Helen H. Lee ’02. “Those [whose votes are in question] should check to see if they can access the voting website. If they cannot, it means their vote has already been counted.”

The glitch was discovered at 3:45 p.m. Sunday by Election Commission member Bradley T. Ito ’02, who received a large number of complaints regarding the voting web site.

“The problem resulted from a corrupted database,” Ito said. Because the vote count could not be assuredly accurate, all votes cast before 4 p.m. were invalidated, and a message on asked those who voted to do so again.

Roommates Craig J. Rothman ’05 and Scott M. Edinburgh ’05, who are running for Vice President and Treasurer respectively, noticed the message around 4:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. Rothman then sent a message to friends addressing the situation. The two candidates said they were extremely frustrated.

An official e-mail which was sent to all the candidates at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday said that the Election Commission was “encountering problems” with the voting website. “This was sent because the e-mails I received were not just revolving around the failure of the site to send votes,” said Ito. “The message was meant to address all the issues mentioned by the voters.”

Another official e-mail was sent around 1 a.m. informing the candidates that the votes were indeed invalidated, and the candidates were to inform the voters as best they could. “I didn’t understand that,” Rothman said. “I think they should have sent an e-mail themselves to all the freshmen.”

The Election Board said they were unable to e-mail the entire class because a database of all the addresses had not been compiled until Monday night.

Voting problems persist

There have been reports since Sunday’s repairs that MIT’s voting website remains slow and inconsistent.

“It appears that they cleared the system, but the problem is still not fixed,” Edinburgh said. “Friends have told me that it has taken them 30 minutes for the site to process their votes, and even then they are not sure whether or not their votes went through.”

This has not been the first time that undergraduate elections have caught a snag due to computer related issues. In the fall of 1998, one candidate was missing from the ballot for freshman elections. In spring 2000, a bug in the voting program that occurred during election period forced the elections to be extended. The votes were eventually thrown out due to unrelated problems involving a Judboard decision.

Due to these past problems, the system was actually upgraded this year. According to Ito, it was actually this upgrade that caused the problems. “The voting system is sensitive to some network difficulties that have been occurring around campus this past week,” Ito wrote in an e-mail to Rothman.

Ito also said that he is the only person who is responsible for the system. “The system should be able to work properly in time for the spring elections,” Ito said. “While it would be nice to have a more efficient system, the system will run smoother in the future.”

“Looking at Judboard in the past, a lot of discrepancies happened in those elections, too,” Rothman said. “I think the results may be somewhat unfair. I’ve talked with other candidates who are unable to tell others to re-vote” because they do not know their e-mail address or where they reside.

Edinburgh voiced similar concerns. “What is their method for making sure the votes are going through?” he asked.

Ito promised that the election would be fair and accurate. “There are reports of people voting successfully and of individuals having specific troubles involving specific MIT security issues,” he said. “It is not the work of one or two people running the elections, it is the effort of the commission.”

Monica R. Rush ’05 was one of the freshman who recast her vote after hearing of the glitch. “I was a little irritated,” she said. “It seems they should have had the system prepared before it began. If I was running for office, I would be upset.” Rush said if these problems had occurred frequently in the past, then the UA had every reason to be prepared for them.

Presently, the deadline for online voting remains to be Wednesday, September 26 at midnight, while paper ballots will run from 9 to 5 on Thursday, September 27. Results will be tallied Thursday at 10 p.m.

Jennifer Krishnan contributed to the reporting of this story.