Upcoming elections to use paper ballots

Students will use paper ballots to cast their votes in the Student Association, Program Board and Marvin Center Governing Board elections Tuesday and Wednesday because of a communication error, said Jeff Baxter, SA Election Committee chair.

The Election Committee – which governs the SA – and the Joint Elections Committee – which governs the PB and MCGB elections – originally intended to use voting machines but are unable to program the machines, Baxter said. The Student Activities Center could not get in touch with the person who usually programs the machines, leaving election committees no option but paper ballots, he said. Administrators in SAC could not be reached for comment.

The use of paper ballots brings a host of concerns for candidates and members of the elections committees alike. They cite the problems with paper ballot counting that resulted in miscounts and allegations of tampering during last year’s election.

The candidates are not happy about it, and I’m not happy about it, Baxter said.

Baxter said he cannot guarantee students will be able to hear election results in the early hours of Thursday morning, as they have in past years, because five people will count the estimated 2,200 potential ballots in the SA election.

Baxter said he will not allow outside pressures to force a rushed count. In addition, the committee will allow observers in the room as they count the votes.

When we get done is when we get done, he said.

Baxter said he expects the committee will take less time to count the ballots and experience fewer problems with inaccuracies than last year because it is prepared for the paper ballots. Last year, the committee was caught off guard because members did not anticipate the number of paper ballots they would receive after former presidential candidate Phil Meisner’s aggressive write-in campaign.

Despite Baxter’s assurances of accuracy, candidates said they still believe problems might occur.

(The Election Committee) has got their work cut out for them – it’s a logistics nightmare, executive vice presidential candidate Chris Voss said. There’s more opportunity for error, but I trust them to do as good a job as they can.

Seth Weinert, candidate for PB executive chair, said the use of paper ballots has the potential to decrease voter turnout, but he believes GW students will still come out to the polls.

I’m confident GW students will make their voices heard whether it’s by pulling a lever or checking a box, Weinert said.

Presidential candidate David Burt said he hopes the committee takes as much time as they need to make sure they get the count right. He does not intend to wait for the committee’s final count, he said.

I will not be staying up, waiting, Burt said. Come 9 p.m. on Wednesday night, I’m going to bed.

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