Though an online voting system resulted in the loss of 232 students’ votes during last semester’s election for the 2008-09 A.S. presidency, it was not the first time an online voting system failed during an A.S. election.
EBallot, a third-party vendor specializing in Web-based elections, previously administered online A.S. elections. ?A.S. paid a $4,000 annual contract with Votenet Solutions Inc., the parent company of eBallot, since the spring 2006 semester.?
Leanne Vincent, coordinator of student leadership for A.S., said eBallot never worked properly.?
Students encountered problems every year with eBallot’s Web-based voting that included trouble with wireless connection on campus, technical glitches, and the inability to log into the system and to vote from America Online.
“Every election cycle came back with the same problems, so it was decided through A.S. to create our own system,” Vincent said.
Vincent and Mazen Hafez, elections committee director, worked with Paul Schantz, Brian Miller and an independent consultant to design a campus-based online voting system.??
The new system had a one-time startup cost of $8,000, Vincent said.? After two years, the online voting system hosted on campus would pay for itself, she said.
They were able to pull students’ information from the SOLAR database and store it in a specific data warehouse configured by CSUN’s Central Information Technology and secured within the campus data center.??
Schantz said getting rid of eBallot prevents third-party outsiders from potentially obtaining students’ information. That was always a concern. ?
On top of that, a lot of money is saved by eliminating the cost of paper ballots said Schantz, and it is more environmentally friendly. ???
Schantz said the Faculty Senate expressed interest in using the system for their elections process as well.?
Heidi Wolfbauer, administrative analyst for the Faculty Senate Office, talked with Schantz at a preliminary level about implementing online elections.?
The online elections site will be open for any campus organization to use once it is implemented.
Vincent said the goal is for students to be able to vote and to make sure their vote counts.
“Paper ballots will always be the most effective, because for one student there is one vote, but it’s not the most efficient and resourceful,” Vincent said.?