Posted 6 a.m. March 1 Winners for the Student Association, Program Board and Marvin Center Governing Board elections will be announced at 10 a.m. Friday, election officials said at about 4 a.m. after hours of delays counting paper ballots.
Expectations for a shorter vote-count process than recent years were dashed as Joint Elections Committee members worked throughout the night counting the number of ballots, then re-examining the ballots to tabulate the votes. The use of mostly online voting with the exception of about 850 paper ballots led candidates and JEC members earlier to think the results would be ready by around midnight.
Instead, candidates and many staff members left the Marvin Center frustrated and tired after hours waiting on the Marvin Center fourth floor and in the Hippodrome.
“We did it because the general vibe of the JEC office was tired,” said Joint Elections Committee Chair Scott Sheffler, a senior.
Sheffler said the JEC, which regulates the student elections, did not anticipate the large paper ballot turnout from the Law School and medical school.
Online votes are automatically tabulated, but results will not be released until all paper ballots are hand-counted.
The hand counts that were complete indicate the SA presidential race could be one of the closest in recent years. Juniors Josh Singer and Phil Robinson had very similar counts. A candidate needs at least 40 percent of the vote and a majority to win without a run-off election.
Bryan Gless, a candidate for executive chair of the Program Board, was ahead in the race, based on only paper ballots.
The JEC office was filled with candidates and supporters during the counting, and cheering went up for different candidates and humorous write-ins such as Mickey Mouse.
An announcement was made at midnight that the JEC would have the results by 1:45 a.m. But delays and slow counting continued to push the results further back. At 4:15 a.m. Sheffler met with Student Activities Center officials and decided to postpone announcing the results. JEC members estimated at the time that final tallies would not have been ready for another hour.
JEC member Christina Vamvas said the committee also did not want to call back election monitors in the middle of the night. Monitors must approve the results before an announcement is made, according to JEC rules.
The SA presidential candidates were the most visibly angered by the decision. All three candidates conferred with one another after the announcement and agreed they wanted to the results as soon as possible. Singer had earlier requested that the JEC postpone the announcement like it did last year, which led the committee to consider it. He advised the committee to poll other candidates for feedback.
Candidates were most upset that they were kept waiting for four hours.
Robinson said he hopes the JEC in the future will return to the tradition of announcing the results the next morning. He felt it would be easier on everyone and would not have wasted their time.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” Singer said. “And that feeling is not just from being tired or for being here the last six hours.”
–Russ Rizzo contributed to this report
This article appeared in the February 28, 2002 issue of the Hatchet.