AS election chaos leads to invalidated ballots

Emily Land

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The Associated Students canceled and invalidated its May 2-3 election because of a set of checks and balances that could have allowed votes to be cast multiple times.

The polling station problems led to the resignation of Commissioner of Elections Chuck Stevens. The board is fixing the problems and plans to hold a new election May 18-19.

“There will only be one polling place with a master list of students’ identification numbers,” said Jennifer Niel, director of Student Life. “As students approach, those names will be marked off, and I will be there doing that.”

Neil said that Stevens made the decision to quit and he did what he could, “but I think it got out of control.”

Stevens said his plans and timelines for the election were critiqued at every turn, without any suggestions on how to be better.

“The way that we were going to conduct the ballot was approved by the council,” Stevens said.

“One of my committee members came to me and said that (writing student ID numbers on the ballots and making sure that students aren’t double-voting) was ‘marking the ballot’ and we couldn’t do that.”

Stevens said he faced many obstacles with his ideas for having a functioning poll system and “any idea we came up with, somebody found something wrong with it.”

Dan Ho, 19, English major and also the AS commissioner of publicity, said he supports Stevens’ decision to leave the AS and wishes him the best in his endeavors and “I am continuously working to improve getting the news out about the new elections.”

Tony LaRosa, 31, political science major, said he was infuriated when he was able to vote at both polling locations because the poll workers weren’t checking IDs.

“We are supposed to be running an election. How could you call it a valid election without qualifying the voters?” LaRosa said. “Everyone and their mother could have stuffed the ballot box.”

LaRosa said he wrote a very strongly worded letter to Elaine Burns, vice president of student services.

Later that night, Stevens said he invalidated the day’s ballots.
“As commissioner, it is my decision alone to cancel and invalidate elections,” Stevens said.

“I like that he (LaRosa) took the initiative to try and fix the broken election, and force them to follow the rules,” said Pedro Vinson, 40, ethnic studies major.  “Now I might actually do a little research and vote and take part in this election because before I had no interest.”