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Elections Underway With Focus on Rules

Commission Seeks to Avoid Past Scandals

By Jessica Zaman

A meeting of prospective Undergraduate Association officers set the stage for an election with a stronger focus on campaign rules.

Candidates commented on a distinct change of agenda in this year’s meeting. “I noticed there was an increased focus on election rules this time,” said Reuben Cummings, a candidate for Class of 2004 president.

Previous election disasters have prompted several reforms. Last year’s election controversy would surprise even Florida residents. Everything from bugs in the electronic voting system to campaign controversies plagued the election. In 2000, voting was conducted a total of three times before results were accepted to be valid.

“Past elections have obviously not run very smoothly,” said Helen H. Lee ’02, current chair of the UA Elections Commission. “We’ve done a lot to change it this year.”

New policy changes include revamping MIT’s original voting software, designed by Aaron M. Ucko ’00. Lee said the changes MIT students are making in the software will speed up the tallying process and help fix previous problems.

Other steps have also been taken to make encourage a spirit of “friendly competition,” said Jaime E. Devereaux ’02, current UA President.

New board to hear complaints

The UA Judicial Board will no longer be the first to hear of UA election controversies. A new Rules Board, composed of three members of the Election Commission, has been established to deal with this area.

“Two years ago, hearing duties were passed to the Judboard to help the commission out,” when the commission was overwhelmed, said Victoria K. Anderson ’02, speaker of the UA Council. “However, we found that this was unfair, since Judboard hearings carry formalities that are not appropriate to election regulations and a greater number of appeals could not be made.”

Steps to prevent regulation problems themselves have also been taken. There has been a greater emphasis on publicity this year, Lee said.

The commission members want candidates to “get started off on the right foot” in terms of knowing the rules of the election, said Daniel D. Liston ’04, a member of the Rules Board.

Approximately 70 potential candidates attended yesterday’s meeting. Five people indicated that they were planning to run for UA President.

Candidates will be given two weeks to finalize position decisions and complete petition forms. Campaigning officially begins on Monday, Feb. 25, and voting will take place from March 11 to March 15.

LaVerde’s may soon accept card

In her “State of the UA” address at last night’s UA Council meeting, Devereaux discussed the status of several long-term projects.

In particular, students may soon be able to pay for their purchases at LaVerde’s Market with their MIT ID cards, Devereaux said.

“The current MIT card system is undergoing drastic changes as well,” said Josiah D. Seale ’02, co-chair of the UA Committee on Student Life.

Seale, who has been in close contact with Director of Enterprise Services Stephen D. Immerman, said Immerman has promised that some major changes in the card system will be in effect by the end of this semester, including the potential addition of LaVerde’s to the MIT card system.

The main concern, Devereaux said, was to get Information Systems to agree to the addition, since personal information is transmitted with each swipe of the card.

Other proposed changes include the institution of a new “key” list. Seale said that at some point, residents might be able to create a list of guests who would be able to enter dormitory or housing establishment using non-resident cards. This change could also be implemented by the end of this term.

“LaVerde’s is just a start,” Seale said.

Progress made on other projects

Devereaux also noted that kinks in the draft schedule for Orientation 2002 had been worked out. Now, she said, the UA and related groups can focus on the lottery and other details.

Also, the Microsoft iCampus Project recently gave the UA funding for the Interactive Introduction to the Institute (I3), Devereaux said, providing funds for the project through the summer.

There will be a town hall meeting on dining on Feb. 20, where the latest proposal by the Campus Dining Board will be discussed.