The first day of GW’s second-ever online student election went smoothly, election officials said, despite snow and multiple campaign violations. Though some students reported computer problems, Joint Election Committee members said they are pleased with the turnout thus far and said they hope to announce winners Thursday night.
Poll watchers said it generally took students between one and three minutes to vote and lines appeared short at polling locations throughout the day.
The online voting process requires students to log on to a GWeb account, sign a service agreement and then vote on a computerized ballot for the Student Association, Program Board and Marvin Center Governing Board positions.
All online votes have been sent to an anonymous Webmail e-mail account; they will be individually tabulated should Webmail shut down during the voting process.
JEC officials, who monitor the elections, said they have not tabulated votes from Wednesday’s elections and were not going to publicize a first day voting figure for security reasons.
The JEC plans to announce winners at about midnight Thursday in the Hippodrome. With the largest presidential and vice-presidential field in 10 years, a runoff between the top two candidates in each field is likely. Candidates are required to garner 40 percent of the vote.
One of the busiest polling stations was the Law School, JEC members said.
“The SA election coincided with the Student Bar Association election, which usually gets a 90-95 percent turnout from law students,” said JEC member Emily Horne, explaining the large turnout.
Law School paper ballots may delay the count Thursday because many law school students do not have the gwu.edu Webmail accounts required for online voting.
Officials held this year’s second campaign violation hearing Tuesday to address 33 complaints before the candidates. Jon McDaniel received 12 of the 33 complaints and was issued four violations for placing posters on the Academic Center glass walls. SA Executive Vice President candidate Jason Cabrera was also issued four violations. A candidate is in contention for disqualification after eight violations.
Complaints against McDaniel for breaking the rules preventing candidates from loitering at campaigning spots before 5 p.m. last Friday were dismissed. McDaniel said he plans to sue the JEC in Student Court in response to the number of violations he received.
“The complaints (against me) are malicious,” McDaniel said. “The JEC has violated its own charter. My volunteers and I have not done anything wrong.”
Candidates campaigned all over campus at the seven voting locations, though many said they were disappointed by the low voter turnout.
“I haven’t seen that many people around the Marvin Center,” said SA presidential candidate John Costanza, who campaigned outside J Street next to a silver BMW covered in his campaign posters. “I had thought that there would be a higher turnout than this.”
Although no public forum or “meet the candidates” night took place as in past years, WRGW hosted two half-hour debates between presidential candidates Steve Sobel and McDaniel on Monday night and Adam Greenman and Graham Murphy Tuesday night.
Many students expressed apathy for the election, citing their dissatisfaction that so little information had been provided on the candidates’ platforms.
“I’m not going to vote because I don’t know anything about the SA or about any of the candidates,” freshman Cate Bradshaw said.
While some students said voting took longer than expected because of computer malfunctions, the JEC said the problems, occurring mainly in the Marvin Center polls, did not cause any major voting backup.
“I wanted to vote, but the computer failed to operate,” sophomore Sheryl Jaffe said.
Elections will continue Thursday, with the polls closing at 9 p.m.
-Thane Tuttle contributed to this report.