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Two wrongs don

Student Council failed to move quickly on a voting option for the University Unity Project theme and so will not have adequate turnout

It has been a week since Student Council removed the faulty University Unity Project referendum poll from its Web site and an alternative solution has not yet been revealed. University Board of Elections Chair Alisa Abbott has offered a solution as well as a promise to publicize a new vote for the referendum, noting that “the ball is in StudCo’s court.” Meanwhile, Council has been working to create a new platform through which to hold the vote instead of using UBE’s existing structure. That Council has failed to establish a new voting method by now is unacceptable. Election results were announced on Monday and all momentum from last week’s voting period has been lost. While the initial problems with voting on the referendum were not Council’s fault, the failure to quickly secure a solution is.

Council President Matt Schrimper said, “The last thing we want is to jump in and do this really quickly.” Actually, that is more or less what Council should have done. According to Abbott, UBE could have listed the referendum as a candidate, allowing students to securely vote on all four options. Though that may have been unorthodox, the structure already exists and a ballot could have been posted Monday, the same day election results were announced. Abbott also said UBE would have worked with Council to publicize the new vote. Capitalizing on the publicity from the election results as well as an additional publicity push to vote on a new ballot would have been a timely and adequate solution.

Instead, Schrimper said Council is working with the University to use the Netbadge log-in to create a new secure voting method. UBE’s ballot already uses this secure log-in process, and Schrimper acknowledged that it may be the best solution to go through UBE so that the voting process is as transparent as possible. It is the best solution. UBE was established to run elections and Council should not hold a vote independent of UBE when UBE already has such structures in place. Aside from the time and momentum lost, it is a waste of the University’s resources to create a voting system solely for one referendum when a voting system already exists.

There is also the question of the validity of an election run independently of UBE. While Council’s referendum was only an opinion referendum, UBE has strict procedures to ensure the validity of election results. Council likely is not aware of all of the precautions taken in this vein and should leave the task of running elections to UBE. UBE’s voting system is flexible enough that a solution could have been implemented, but Council has decided not to work with UBE and has lost any chance of having an adequate turnout for its vote on the University Unity referendum.

Though Schrimper said that Council will have a four day voting period two weeks after Spring Break, with a week to publicize beforehand, no amount of publicity on Council’s part can generate the turnout that elections did. This is not entirely Council’s fault, because the original mistake was UBE’s, but Council compounded the mistake by failing utilize the viable solution UBE offered it.
Because of its failure to act quickly, Council will not be able to secure a valid representation of student opinion on the theme for the University Unity Project next year. UBE offered a solution and instead of moving with all due haste, Council has delayed the vote on its referendum, leading to the referendum’s demise.

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