Voting started at midnight this morning for the Michigan Student Assembly Elections, and events of past elections have made MSA officials and candidates leery of voter fraud.

To prevent fraudulent dealings from affecting the outcome of the elections, party members assign “tails” to other parties, said Election Board Director Ryan Norfolk. Tails are students who make sure candidates are abiding by campaign rules set by the Election Board and report violations to the board.

“I”ve heard conversations about them, but nobody really knows who they are,” said Monique Luse, an MSA representative candidate running with the University Democratic Party. “I don”t think our party has them.”

In an effort to reduce voter fraud, the Election Board tried to implement a system in which students would enter their student identification number before voting.

“Since this was relatively public information, we didn”t go through with it,” Norfolk said. “Basically things have not changed since the previous election.”

In the winter 1999 election, a Blue Party member allegedly stole 110 uniqname passwords and used them to vote.

Last year, an incident of voter fraud caused most of the Wolverine Party to be removed from the election. This year, LSA sophomore Chip Englander, who caused the Wolverine Party”s removal, is on the ballot as the Michigan Party”s vice-presidential candidate.

Alok Agrawal, last year”s Election Board director, investigated the incident when he got e-mails from students in Markley saying that someone had come into their rooms, helped them log into the voting website and voted for them.

The Election Board determined it was Englander who violated the rules.

“This violated two major rules of the election campaigning within 50 feet of a polling site, which is a computer logged into the election website, and integrity of election,” Agrawal said.

But because of the double-blind voting system last winter, the Election Board could not effectively determine who was voted for. Since Englander was the Wolverine Party”s campaign manager and every candidate had agreed to run under him as party head, all candidates were disqualified from the election.

Several candidates in this year”s election said they are upset that Englander is running again.

“As a former candidate for LSA-SG, he knew the rules surrounding elections very well, and understood how to run a campaign on campus,” said Blue Party vice-presidential candidate Jessica Cash. Cash was disqualified with the rest of the Wolverine Party candidates last winter.

“The irony surrounding the whole scandal is that Chip remains unpunished,” Cash said. “He left campus for a term, expecting everyone to forget what he did.”

Englander has appeared hesitant to talk about last year”s incident. When LSA senior Tom Aronson questioned him about it during WOLV-TV”s presidential debate, Englander answered “I don”t think that”s what we”re here to discuss.”

In the 1999 incident of fraud, students received e-mails confirming that they voted when it was actually the Blue Party member who had stolen their passwords who had used their account.

“Forty students had already voted, but 70 got e-mails saying they had voted when they hadn”t,” Agrawal said.

The student was punished under the MSA code, but he was not punished by the Election Board.

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