May 6, 2003

SG voting commences

While weathering a few early glitches, voting for the Student Government (SG) executive slate commenced yesterday slightly after 8 a.m. on the SG Web site without major incident. The online polls will now be open continuously until 5 p.m. on Wednesday evening, at which time the Election and Rules committee will tally the votes and declare a winner shortly thereafter.

Although the online voting system ran smoothly for most of the first day, Network Services and Information Technology (NSIT) officials experienced slight difficulties shortly after opening the Web site to the public early Monday morning. According to Enrique Gomez, current SG president, the online program was not gathering and storing voting data correctly, causing the site to shut down for roughly 11 minutes.

NSIT personnel were able to quickly fix the problem, however, without losing any of the initial votes.

Gomez also said that some students who possess an older version of Netscape were having trouble logging votes later in the day. Once a graduate student alerted NSIT to the problem via telephone, officials corrected the glitch within the hour.

Despite these smaller problems, SG officials believe that online voting has been a success.

"One thing we have done to improve the state of elections over the past year is to hand to the elections over to NSIT," Gomez said. "It makes the entire election process much quicker and smoother for everyone."

This election will be the first in which voting will take place exclusively online, but students officials believe that ballot votes will not be missed.

"No one has raised any concern over the issue, though it's possible we might have done more to publicize the fact that we were switching to entirely web-based system" said Raphael Satter, Chairmen of the Election and Rules Committee (ERC).

As the campaigns move into their final phases, SG slates are increasing their activity on campus in a last-minute effort to win student support. Officials have noted that additional posters and chalk markings are being seen around the University, and slate members are trying to make themselves as visible as possible to the student body.

Few problems have arisen between the different slates thus far, but some fear that the pressure to grab important votes will lead to unforeseen rule breaking.

"Typically, as the race heats up, there's a temptation to bend the rules," Satter said. "There is a long-running postering dispute we're keeping tabs on, as well as questions over proper use of RSO listhosts, which we've received complaints about."

ERC regulations strictly forbid any mass emails--constantly referred to as SPAM--to be sent to University students in order to solicit votes. Students have recently reported that, in spite of these guidelines, they have received emails from their RSO listhosts containing messages from certain slates asking for support.

But, overall, student officials believe that the election is progressing well, noting that all of the scheduled events, with the exception of the Inter-House Council debate, have gone generally according to plan.

Sharlene Holly, director of the office of the Reynolds Club and student activities, encouraged students to voice their opinion this election. "The fact that six slates are running shows that there is increased interest in students who want to be involved in SG," she said. "I would like to see that translate into more students impacting the outcome of the elections and helping to select the next student government."

Once the online votes have been tallied, barring any significant controversy, the ERC will post the winner on the SG Web site and outside the Student Government Office in the Reynolds Club. The winners also will be notified by email or telephone the moment the results have been officially confirmed, Satter said.