After seeing a wall post on Student Government’s (SG) Facebook page advertising the election-voting site, USF student Victor Lazaro visited the link and placed his vote Sunday.
But voting technically didn’t start until today.
“I just figured I’ll go to the link to see what was in it … and I was able to vote,” said Lazaro, a junior double majoring in political science and history.
However, Supervisor of SG Election Rules Commission (ERC) Michael LeBlanc said VoteNet, the company sponsoring the online election ballots, was running a trial Sunday morning, and all votes placed during that time will not count.
“If the votes haven’t been erased already, they will be erased (today),” he said.
Students can vote from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. today through Friday online at sg.usf.edu/vote or at campus polling stations at these locations: Andros, Argos and Juniper-Poplar housing complexes, Cooper Hall, the Library Commons, College of Engineering, College of Business, College of Nursing, College of Public Health Lab, Marshall Student Center and Greek Village.
The trial run was held to restrict the IP addresses that will be used for the ballots, LeBlanc said. He said he is unsure how many students voted.
Voting was originally scheduled to start Monday, but a medical emergency involving a member of the SG Advising and Training Office, which oversees obtaining allowed IP addresses for voting, pushed poll openings back.
Last year, a problem arose when students using off-campus Internet connections were not recognized by the voting system because they were using IP addresses not listed by VoteNet or IP addresses that were shut down after a certain amount of votes were cast from it.
“It’s kind of like all the computers used for voting are trying to get into a club,” LeBlanc said. “And, basically, the IP address that we’ve secured with VoteNet has a valid ID, and everyone else has a fake ID.”
LeBlanc said allowing students to vote off campus is important for those who live far away.
However, even though an individual can only vote once, LeBlanc said, a concern is that campaigns could hold gatherings off campus and have students come to vote – a problem past elections have had before using VoteNet.
“Before the VoteNet system, which protects the student body from things like this, there were unethical elections,” LeBlanc said. “That’s why we put the VoteNet system in place. That’s why there are restricted IP addresses – to prevent one laptop being passed to several hundred students at a ‘kegger.’ But it’s happened in the past.”
VoteNet finished processing IP addresses Monday afternoon.
Because voting time is outlined in the constitution, LeBlanc had to receive approval from SG’s judicial branch to change the date.
“Only the court can review the election,” he said. “I’m assuming they saw this election wouldn’t happen unless it was opened up.”
Some candidates are concerned the rescheduling will affect voter turnout.
“It’s definitely going to affect our campaign a little bit because we’ve been advertising the 22nd through the 25th,” said presidential candidate Christopher Leddy, a senior majoring in political science and history.
Presidential candidate Cesar Hernandez, a senior majoring in biomedical sciences, questioned the ERC’s preparation for the election.
“To be honest … it did bring a lot of concern because you have an entire year to get ready for the next election, and if you have a year to prepare, why isn’t everything prepared? Why isn’t everything ready to go?” said Hernandez, CEO and founder of the Seraph Foundation. “Every day is crucial … I honestly don’t know how that one day is going to affect my campaign, but it is a day in my life that I have to account for.”
LeBlanc said he understands the possible implications of his decision.
“Thursday is usually the last day, and we get a lot of votes, too, because people are like, ‘Oh, crap, I forgot to vote,’ so if anything, this will extend that time,” he said.