Thursday’s campuswide election results, which included the passage of the Student Resource Building Fee Initiative by nine votes and the failure of the Recreational Sports Fee Initiative, have since met opposition from three parties.
In a meeting on Tuesday for the Campus Elections Committee (CEC), representatives from the Graduate Students Association (GSA), Intercollegiate Athletics (ICA) and graduate student Alan Levy voiced separate complaints regarding election processes.
On the ballot, the Recreational Sports Fee Initiative was printed at the very top of the last page. Grant Gaudette, a student leader for the Recreational Sports Initiative, said he believes the placement confused voters and may have led to approximately 800 less votes needed to validate the election. To validate an election initiative, 20 percent of the student population must vote on it.
“Elections procedures are done in a manner really unfair to the fee initiatives, with the sheets being at the end of the ballot. The Recreational Sports Fee Initiative in particular was on the very last page on the very top half,” he said. “We’ve had students come to us and say they have had a hard time finding the initiative when they turned the last page just a little bit.”
The GSA listed four complaints against the passage of the Student Resource Building Fee Initiative (SRB), including a flaw in determining graduate eligibility and discrepancies in calculating the voter turnout, GSA Internal President Jessica Winston said.
Graduate students make up roughly 10 percent of the student population and will pay for 10 percent of the SRB’s fees. Winston said graduate students will not use 10 percent of the building’s resources and are therefore paying a disproportionate amount. Of the 385 graduate students who voted, only 44 voted in favor of the SRB Initiative.
The GSA’s official complaint stated, “Given the overwhelming graduate student satisfaction with the facilities and services provided through the GSA Lounge in the University Center, there is only a minimal potential for graduate students interested in the following: ‘new student space that includes meeting rooms, student lounges and offices.’ ”
The GSA also stated that the number of students voting for campuswide initiatives was less than the number of students voting for Associated Student s, but the two were calculated the same.
Winston said the GSA also filed a complaint regarding a lack of a posted sponsor on SRB signs during an election. A record of the sponsors for the three campuswide election campaigns will be released during the next meeting, but will remain in the Office of Student Life, according to CEC guidelines.
Though it was not filed in the complaint, Winston said she was concerned election numbers were being released before the polls closed.
Around 4 p.m. on day two of elections, Student Fee Advisory Committee Chair Ira Munn, a supporter of the SRB, received a call that a couple hundred votes were needed to validate the elections. According to Election Code guidelines, official or preliminary numbers are not to be released until the polls close on the final day of voting. Gaudette said a lack of needed voters was obvious to the students standing around the polling stations encouraging other students to vote.
“We had people around polling locations and we could definitely tell how many people were out there voting, and it was pretty obvious the voter turnout is a lot lower than in previous years,” he said.
To get more students to vote, Associated Students Attorney General Sarah Thibodeaux said supporters of an initiative might generate false numbers or predict election failure. Students working the polls are allowed to ask if the 20-percent voter threshold has been reached, but can only speculate about the number of voters until ballots are counted.
“Anyone who runs an initiative knows that no matter what facts you find out throughout the day, that [they] need to keep the hype up, and a good mechanism in doing that is to tell ‘we haven’t got it. We need this much …’
“You can’t really just tally the type of votes; you can get an idea of how many people voted based on that list, but that’s about it,” Thibodeaux said. “Even that is speculative because if someone votes on the wrong place, like if you live on campus and pick an off-campus rep, then that part of your ballot’s invalidated.”