Students were told they needed to recast their votes after the online elections website was shut down. (Danielle Directo, Daily Sundial)
Online presidential elections for Associated Students were canceled after technical difficulties occurred Tuesday at 8 a.m.
The two slates, Students First and Educate, Empower, Enhance (E3) have focused on online campaigning from the beginning because the new election board promised to make it work, said Nicole Umali, vice president candidate for E3.
“It wasn’t a big surprise, but it sucks,” said Umali. “We would tell students, ‘Tell your friends, just vote online.'”
Alex Shahin, Students First vice president candidate, agreed with Umali, saying that they too campaigned through Myspace and Facebook.
“What I am doing now is no different (from) what I have been doing before,” Shahin said about campaigning at the polling place. But what’s different is that “people say ‘I’ll vote online later,’ so you have to tell people it’s not available,” he added.
Students started complaining about the website soon after voting started, said Mazen Hafez, elections director for A.S.
“We had test trials for two weeks and we had no problems, we worked with the Information Technology guys, Brian Miller and Paul Schantz,” Hafez said.
Hafez contacted Miller and Schantz after he had received complaints from students about the website, and they told him if by 11 a.m. the site wasn’t fixed, online elections should be canceled.
Miller and Schantz were unavailable at press time.
From 8 to 10:45 a.m., 232 students had logged on to vote, but because of the technical errors their votes were canceled, said Hafez.
An email was sent from David Crandall, general manager of A.S., stating that the 232 students who had voted online had to go to the polling place at Matador Square and vote again on the paper ballots. The number of people attempting to vote after the system was shut down is unknown.
If students attending Tuesday/Thursday classes have a problem, a potential meeting might be held, but it’s not yet confirmed, Hafez said.
After the incident, Hafez and his election staff printed 3,000 paper ballots for those online voters, he said. Only about 2,500 students vote on average each semester.
The turnout would have been higher if the online site would have been up, said Hafez, who also said the website was appealing and voter friendly compared to the paper ballots.
The paper ballots will not run out, said Hafez, since he doesn’t expect half of the ballots to be used. As elections director last semester, he said he didn’t encounter ballots running out then either.
Aaron DeVandry, a liberal studies major and senior, remembers last semesters elections differently. He said when he arrived to vote at 6:30 p.m., there were no paper ballots available. The polls were said to close at 7 p.m.
This semester, DeVandry, who has three classes online, logged on to vote on Tuesday but wasn’t able to, he said.
“I live an hour away, it doesn’t make sense to go to school to vote,” DeVandry said. “Voting should be for everyone.”
Not many people vote in the A.S. elections, but it should be available to the few that want to, he said.
“I think it’s a shame they can’t get voting correct,” said DeVandry about A.S not being able to fix online voting the same day.
Even students running for positions on A.S. in the E3 slate had concerns on their nominations.
Montana Pham, an information systems major who is running for business senator on the E3 slate, said he handled his campaign online.
Pham said he used Myspace and Facebook and created a website for E3, all based on the notion that online voting was going to work.
“We practically lost the business vote from inconvenience,” Pham said. “I feel very strongly that the business vote was negated.”
The only polling place on campus is at Matador Square, and the business building is all the way on the other side of Juniper Hall, Pham said.
He was counting on the business students because he had gone to various classes in the department and made presentations. He had told students that online voting was going to be available.
Students wanted to do it online because it’s quicker and now they don’t want to stand in the lines, Stephanie Barahona, candidate for senator of college and humanities on the E3 slate, said.