A.S. elections go paperless, online voting

Kristopher A. Fortin

The outlook for the third attempt to use an online elections system for the Associated Students (A.S.) elections in the past three years is optimistic, but no one is willing to say it will be a success just yet.

Though the votes from the last two elections were nullified because of problems with the system, the idea that 8,000 students may not vote is close to becoming a reality.

As of Oct. 27, 8,000 students still had not switched over to their CSUN Gmail accounts, which is more than 20 percent of CSUN students. Students can only access their ballots through their Gmail accounts; this election will be completely paperless.

Dan Monteleone, Director of Elections, talks about the importance of voting in today's election.  Photo Credit: Caitlin McCarrick / Staff Photographer
Dan Monteleone, Director of Elections, talks about the importance of voting in today's election. Photo Credit: Caitlin McCarrick / Staff Photographer

Even if students have yet to switch over to their Gmail accounts, the ballot will still be available, but only once a student switches to their Gmail account and logs into it.

“Clearly there are 8,000 students out there somewhere, but I haven’t met them yet,” said Dan Monteleone, A.S. director of elections.

E-mails should be sent out between midnight on Monday and 6 a.m. Tuesday. Polls will open 8 a.m. Tuesday and close 7 p.m. Wednesday.

There will be one kiosk in front of the Oviatt Library on Matador Walk where students can vote and A.S. Elections street team members, committee members or volunteers can help students change to their Gmail account.

“I couldn’t see what two voting booths could do that one voting booth could do at half the cost,” Monteleone said.

Monteleone organized the contract with BigPulse, the online voting system that will be used this year, and has tried to reserve as much money as possible for this election.

Yet, Monteleone said he doesn’t want to give an estimate on the expected voter turnout.

“I don’t want to doom ourselves with being overly optimistic,” Monteleone said.

Last year’s fall election had a 656-voter turnout after the election moved to paper ballots when the online election system failed. The voter turnout for the fall online election, before the votes were nullified, was 2,200.

BigPulse has received positive reviews from Kim Hinckson, associate director of student involvement at Cal State Long Beach.

Some e-mails went into students’ spam box if the email blocks were set high, Hinckson said. But BigPulse regularly works with e-mail providers to prevent their e-mails from being blocked.

Last fall, the A.S. online voting system was managed by the Web and technology services for the division of Student Affairs at CSUN.

So far, Elections has spent between $10,850 and $11,850 out of their $29,500 budget for the school year. The University Student Union will share the cost for spring elections.

Unofficial results will be available Wednesday night after voting closes, “assuming everything runs smoothly,” Monteleone said. Results will be posted at the A.S. Central Office.