After the Joint Election Committee’s election debacle last year, it seemed things couldn’t get any worse – until this year.
Because the Student Activities Center failed to contact the person who usually programs the voting machines, students voted for candidates on paper ballots while machines sat idle. Not only is the situation simply unacceptable, but it is a harbinger of more problems. In particular, the use of paper ballots by the SA Election Committee and the JEC, which regulates voting for the Program Board and Marvin Center Governing Board, creates the possibility of a myriad of errors.
For periods of time when phone lines were down, election monitors couldn’t do background checks on voters. Thus, hypothetically, students could have voted as many times as they liked with little chance of getting caught. As a safety mechanism, each ballot has a number on it so that it can be traced back to the voter. But the chance of a student getting caught voting more than once still seems very low.
To make things worse, voting stations ran out of paper ballots. Students who had waited in long lines were told to leave and come back later. Inevitably, some of those students did not return to vote when more ballots arrived. Also, as in past years, election monitors failed to do a background check on students’ schools, which means that a student could vote for a candidate from another school.
Ultimately, these election gaffes have a deleterious effect on the democratic process. By tracking the paper ballots, the election committees are making a mockery of a crucial element of voting – the secret ballot. Also, apathetic students who would rather not go through a hassle may choose not to vote.
In the future, the elections committees must ensure that voting machines are fully operational far in advance of election day. Also, after the elections committees get their acts together, perhaps voting could be conducted online.
Clearly, SAC erred tremendously by failing to ensure the voting machines were operational, setting into motion an excruciating domino effect. With no voting machines, the alternative – paper ballots – has made the democratic process far more difficult than it needs to be.