When deciding on the future head of Student Government’s elections Tuesday, senators had past election problems at the forefront of their minds.
After rehashing problems with the spring elections that included poor planning, marketing and possible voter manipulation, senators confirmed Cassandra Hall, a former deputy on the election committee that oversaw the elections, as the new supervisor of elections.
Under former Supervisor of Elections Devin Lee, the Election Rules Commission (ERC), which sets election policy and keeps candidates in line, was criticized for allowing candidates to create their own polling stations and failing to carry out plans for outdoor polling stations.
Senators objected to problems with communication between candidates and the ERC in the spring elections that had led to a somewhat freer interpretation of the election rules, some of which were never put in writing.
“(Lee) wasn’t in sync with what was going on in SG, but he wasn’t in sync with what was even going on in his own committee,” SG Advisor and Business Manager David Armstrong said.
Hall seemed hesitant to comment on some of the election problems after the meeting.
Hall was a deputy in Lee’s committee last year, and said she has first-hand experience with the successes and failures of the previous election.
“The fact that she’s even coming back says that she cares,” Armstrong said. “Because I wouldn’t have come back after last year.”
During the spring elections, senators pointed to a slew of problems, including senators and student organizations wearing shirts supporting the Barclay Harless/Garin Flowers ticket and handing out pizza while helping students vote on laptops.
Hall said the issue was priority for the ERC, but stressed the difficulty of enforcement.
“There’s only so much we can do about that,” Hall said. “We’re not going to be able to tell everybody ‘Hey, you can’t be doing that,’ because we can’t be on campus everywhere.”
Armstrong wasn’t pleased with the tactics of supporters of the Harless/Flowers campaigns.
“You’re basically buying votes when something like that occurs,” he said.
These concerns and other problems with planning and marketing prompted Jason Taylor, the SG Internal Affairs Committee chair at the time, to call the election a “disaster.”
Lee had arranged for polling stations operated by ERC volunteers to be set up around campus to encourage students to vote. But a conflict in scheduling and the delivery of food for volunteers cut short the plan short before it began. The polling stations were never used.
Hall said she wasn’t in favor of setting up independent ERC polling stations, and though she could change her mind after discussion with the committee, she doesn’t plan on doing it again.
“I think, in the long run, those polling stations weren’t such a good idea,” Hall said. “So that’s definitely going to be something that’s changed.”
The stations were more trouble than they were worth, according to Armstrong.
“It’s manpower-intensive. It costs money. There’s logistics involved,” Armstrong said. “It was very poorly managed.” Every student can already vote online from any location, he said.
Armstrong was hopeful that the election would be handled responsibly this year.
“ERC should be one of two things – one, informing the students, and another, enforcing the rules accurately across the board,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll get that this year.”