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RHA calls for recount due to fraud

Megan Loney | Monday, September 21, 2009

Although Residence Hall Association (RHA) of Saint Mary’s College announced the election results for President and Vice President of each residence hall Sept. 11, the results were eventually recanted on Sept. 14 after it was revealed that some students had voted more than once.

“I can neither confirm nor deny whether or not there were candidates that voted more than once, but I can verify that students voted more than once,” Patrick Daniel, Director of Student Involvement, said.

The voting discrepancies were not due to errors in the voting system, Daniel said.

Although PRISM has been used in the past for voting, the “snap” system was used for the elections that took place this academic year. This system is established through Saint Mary’s Institutional Research office that is responsible for conducting and reviewing survey information that is not limited to student activities; it reviews survey information for the entire college, Daniel said.

The “snap” system pairs a specific link in the voting survey to a specific student. This is how those who review the votes are able to know the name of the student, the student’s vote and what time the student voted. The set-up of the system enables the voting reviewers to identify which students voted more than once.

“The system is not set-up to prevent students from voting more than once because we believe our students should be able to do what is right instead of being prevented from doing something wrong,” Daniel said.

The instructions stated students were to vote only once, and if they voted more than once, only one vote would be counted.

“Our voting is based on a fact that students understand that you vote only once as stated in the directions,” Daniel said. “People should understand that there is only one vote per person, without even having to read the directions.”

While there is no error in the system, the language of the voting directions will be more explicitly clear for future elections to make sure that people understand they should only vote once, Daniel said.

The hall council directors informed candidates of the voting discrepancies Friday via e-mail.

First year student London Lamar, who ran and won for McCandless Hall Council in the initial election, is disappointed with the manner in which the situation was handled.

“I feel that the decisions that were made were not fair nor was it handled in a way that all the candidates could of been pleased,” Lamar said. “It is also unfair to the candidates that won already. They now have to run again, moreover, with possible new candidates who were not a part of the election process in the first place.”

Lamar will not be running for re-election. Her previous running mate, first year student Cara O’Connor, will be running in the new election for president of McCandless hall council.

“I would like to run again but unfortunately I cannot because of issues beyond my control,” Lamar said. “If I could run again, I definitely would. Hopefully this new election goes more smoothly and the ‘discrepancies’ will never have to happen again. I wish the future candidates my best luck and wishes.”

Hall Council elections are not the only elections for which students have to re-vote. Due to different reasons, the Class of 2013 is also holding re-elections; however, unlike the hall council elections, all of the candidates who ran in the first election are eligible for re-election.

The initial Class of 2013 election was ruled invalid because a link identified with one student of the Class of 2013 was copied from the email and sent to an undisclosed off-campus Web site. This means that people not affiliated with or a part of Saint Mary’s College could have voted in the election, Daniel said.

Although Daniel confirmed that this was not done intentionally, the results of the election were ruled invalid.

In order to prevent either situation from occurring in the future, directions for voting will be that each link sent is specific to an individual and should not be copied and sent to anyone else or any off-campus sites.

The Class of 2013 will be able to re-vote for president and vice president today 8 a.m. through Sept. 22 at 8 a.m.

The Hall Council elections for Holy Cross, Le Mans and McCandless Halls will take place Sept. 24 beginning at 8 a.m. through 8 a.m. Sept. 25. Students will be notified of the results on Friday.

“It is important to know that an overwhelming majority of our students in the Hall Council and Class of 2013 elections only voted one time in their respective elections,” Daniel said. “Unfortunately, because of the few that did not follow this in the Hall council elections and the unintentional mistake of sending out the link in the Class of 2013 elections, both elections must be held again.”