The election of a student body president should be a serious affair, but this year’s Student Government (SG) presidential elections have been marred by mishandling.
Problems ranged from poor advertising prior to the election, a surprise debate that even some candidates didn’t know about untill a few days beforehand to a few of the campaigns filing petty grievances against each other.
The latest controversy was Monday night when the Election Rules Commission (ERC) decided to throw out all 4,235 votes, cancel the runoff election between presidential candidates Andrew Cohen and Cesar Hernandez and call for an entire new election, after it was discovered that students with two majors, each in a different college, were able to vote more than once.
Though backpedaling, USF and the ERC are taking a step in the right direction. Rather than act hastily, it will wait to see the full report from VoteNet Solutions, the business sponsoring the online election ballots that has taken full responsibility for the discrepancies, today.
Holding a whole new election involving all candidates would be a terrible idea.
The ERC made the right call Monday by deciding to call off the runoff election, which was scheduled to begin Tuesday. However, Michael LeBlanc, supervisor of the ERC, acted prematurely when he notified each of the five candidates that they were back in the race.
A new election after spring break would likely lead to a new runoff, and USF would not have an elected student body president for nearly a month. The results of a second election would be drastically affected by the first. Voters may decide not to waste their vote on a candidate who stood no chance of winning the first time. They would instead focus their support on the top candidates, so it may as well be a runoff.
Defeated candidates’ hopes were likely raised only to be dashed Tuesday, when the University decided not to throw out the votes and instead review the VoteNet report and disqualify all duplicate votes. All candidates will only be back in the race if there are a lot of discrepancies, said Kevin Banks, USF dean of students.
It is unlikely there would be enough votes thrown out to give the bottom two candidates a chance, so a new election should be out of the question. Fourth place candidate Tim Moore earned slightly more than 300 votes, while the top three candidates each received more than 1,000.
The best solution the ERC could reach today would be to hold a new runoff election the week after spring break between the top two candidates, which is subject to change after the report is issued. Second place Cohen only beat presidential candidate Christopher Leddy by 15 votes.
In two weeks, students should be able to choose between Hernandez and Cohen or Hernandez and Leddy. SG needs to make sure it fixes the voting problem first and get this chaotic election finished.