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Missed deadlines plague CSG elections

By Giacomo Bologna, Daily Staff Reporter
Published December 9, 2012

After a March election cycle now infamous for a hearing that lasted until 7 a.m. that determined the election, the Central Student Government held its November elections under an entirely new election code. While the problems CSG faced eight months ago were avoided during last month’s election, missed deadlines, a shortage of candidates and erroneous ballots still plagued the contest.

Some of the problems can be attributed to the new election code, which was only passed 28 days before the start of the election. By then, CSG was already in violation of the legislation the assembly had just passed that required the election director to be approved 42 days before an election and the applications for candidates to be made available 30 days before an election.

These missed deadlines caused more missed deadlines when candidacy applications were accepted as late as a few days before the election despite the new election code that required the applications to be submitted 16 days before the election.

While some organizers of the election cited a lack of time as one of the problems that hindered CSG’s November election, others like LSA senior Sean Walser, a three-year veteran of student government who now serves as the vice president of the Student Association of Michigan, said he found the handling of the election “embarrassing.”

“We've had some rough elections in the past,” Walser said. “But this is by far the worst I've ever seen and I think it's really bad for student government to not really take time to have meaningful elections.”

In total, only eight students registered to run for the 18 available seats, and Walser said these numbers were both an anomaly and bad for student government.

“In the past, even in the smaller November elections, we've had way more candidates than there are seats,” he said, attributing the lack of candidates to poor advertisement of the election.

Walser argued that voter turnout for the CSG elections could be attributed to other student governments on campus rather than to CSG itself.

“A lot of the turnout was the result of the work of the LSA Student Government and other student governments across campus,” Walser said. “It was really embarrassing to me to have CSG do virtually nothing to advertise the election – that's just a terrible precedent going into the March election.”

Walser said he also tried to find an application a few days before the election and couldn’t.

“I imagine for students not well versed with CSG, (getting registered) would have been virtually impossible unless they were involved with a party,” he said.

In addition to problems created by a lack of time, issues concerning the Rackham and LSA-SG representative ballots were “unexplainable,” Walser said.

The Rackham ballot only allowed voters to vote for one person, despite eight seats being up for grabs. That problem eventually led organizers to extend the election 48 hours and release an entirely new ballot for Rackham students.

The CSG representative ballot allowed voters to choose three candidates when only two seats were open. In the end, the third place finisher lost 531 to 436 total votes and 1,321 to 1,196 weighted votes, which are calculated based on how students ranked a candidate.

“I think it’s a terrible precedent because this election was clearly not really fair and democratic,” Walser said.

Walser said staff from the University’s Information and Technology Services assured student government officials that technological problems with the ballot didn’t affect the results, but argued that the ballot still had errors.

“ITS claiming that (problems with the LSA ballot) didn't affect the election results to me is not sufficient because there was clearly a mistake on the ballot,” Walser said.