The Undergraduate Judiciary Cabinet (UJC) has declared the election results for undergraduate SGA class representatives null and void in response to an appeal over discrepancies in the voting system used in the elections. The discrepancies caused students to vote for class representatives based on class standing according to hours, while representatives were running based on year.
According to Nick Wellkamp, undergraduate student body president, new elections will open Friday April 24 and close Wednesday April 29.
â€œThe ultimate objective of our decision was to make things as fair as possible for as many people as possibleâ€¦ and this means doing the elections correctlyâ€¦ We believe we made the right decision,â€ said Brandon Kearse, chief justice for the UJC.
The appeal came to the UJC after a candidate filed a complaint with the elections committee that the voting system did not allow constituents to properly vote for the candidates that would be representing them. His main argument was that he could not vote for himself, and that therefore the people who thought that they would be allowed to vote for him would not qualify either. The elections board deemed the elections valid, but after, that decision was appealed before the UJC.
The problem with the software used by OIT for the elections was that it had no way of classifying students into class standing on any basis other than credit hours. Since the SGA bylaws were changed this election to state that representatives would be chosen to represent their class based upon year in school, not credit hours, this meant that many students voted for the representatives running to represent the class below them. The UJC found this to be unfair.
The decision means that SGA must now take on the daunting task of fixing the software glitch and redoing the class representative elections either by the end of the school year.
â€œWhile I understand the UJC’s intent, I do think that it was not the right decisionâ€¦ I think it was an impractical move this late in the semester,â€ Wellkamp said.
Since elections will be held during finals, SGA is trying its best to get students’ attention now, hoping that they will still have substantial voter turnout for the undergraduate representatives. However, there is likely to be less response, since elections have their best turnout when run in conjunction with executive elections. The candidates from the original election will not change, but they will have to wait through the process to see if they will win again. This worries some of the previously elected candidates.
â€œI understand that [the UJC] wanted to do the right thing, but if the class reps do change, this is unfair, because you can never know what will happen in the second election. People may not bother to vote again, because they forget or are afraid that the election will be just thrown out againâ€¦ and this could change the results,â€ said Melissa Parham, first-year BCHM major and one of the originally elected sophomore class representatives for next year.
Whether the results from the first election are largely the same or totally overturned, the new elections will stand. In the meantime, SGA continues to work on a new voting system, while the candidates await the election results for a second time.