Election system flawed

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Kassidy Harris is the new student body president. His first act in office should be to fix the voting system that got him elected.

Signs, Facebook groups and Twitter pages proclaimed the great qualities of candidates seeking votes in the March 8 elections. But when many students received the customary open ballot email nearly ten hours after it was supposed to go out, many found themselves locked out from the electronic ballot box.

The system was designed to keep graduating seniors from casting votes for a president who would take office after their graduation. Why would a departing student care about bills passed by next year’s student government? But the ballot box’s definition of seniors had little to do with May graduation.

To be considered a senior on campus, students must have completed 90 hours. Voting was only open to those students who started the spring semester with less than 90 hours. But it takes 124 hours to graduate.

Good luck finding the graduating student taking 34 hours this spring (and good luck paying for that tuition bill). Even a hefty load of 15 hours a semester would take these students into next spring. That’s the whole term of Harris – a president leading many students who couldn’t even elect him.

Without considering double major and extra elective hours, 90 hours in December is a bad cutoff for the elections. Any junior who has been aggressive in taking classes or who brought in hours would  and should be near the 90-hour mark three semesters from graduating.

This means a huge chunk of the junior class – the most seasoned and university experienced voters – weren’t able to name their choice online. One candidate couldn’t even log in himself to vote.

The student life office did a great job of trying to let the locked-out voters participate. Students with more than 90 hours could still cast votes via email with Kristie Brischke. She graciously handled the email of students who found themselves unable to vote.

But knowing how to vote around the system was not publicized well. Some students who went to the student life office learned to email votes, and a few Facebook pages, including The Bells’, provided the email address to send votes.

A confusing and frustrating voting process is never good for voters. Remember Florida’s hanging chads? One can’t expect someone who may have voted from the email link to go to great lengths to figure out how to work around the broken system. Harris may have been elected regardless of the voting errors, but if students are expected to take student government seriously, the technical side of the voting should be handled correctly.

SGA wants to be respected as an organization that gets things done for students. Botching the voting, though admittedly not entirely their fault, doesn’t help their case.

Author: Evan Duncan

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