Officials worked much of yesterday to correct problems that occurred for some students who voted in the Michigan Student Assembly elections before 8 a.m. yesterday morning. However, officials say, the problem has since been fixed and ballots cast now will be properly tallied.

According to Michigan Student Assembly election chair Sagar Deshpande, the issue came about because of a ballot randomization feature, which was designed to ensure that no party or candidate would have an alphabetical advantage over another.

The application mixed which party appeared first on each person’s ballot so that 25 percent of voters would see Defend Affirmative Action Party at the top of the ballot, 25 percent would see Independents at the top of the ballot, 25 percent would see MForward at the top of ballot and 25 percent would see the Michigan Vision Party at the top of the ballot, Deshpande said.

He said that for students who completed their ballot, continued to the confirmation page and submitted their ballot, there were no problems with the randomization feature and their votes were counted. However, those who went back to modify their ballot before submitting it may not have noticed that the candidates were shuffled on the ballot when they returned to see it, but that the boxes they had marked were kept the same.

Deshpande explained that this means someone could have originally voted for the person who appeared first on the list, but that when they went back to the ballot the person in that slot at the top of the list could have changed.

The problem was discovered early this morning when students reported problems with the site. Just before 8 a.m., ITS officials disabled the randomization feature to prevent further problems.

Turning off the randomization feature means the same party will appear at the top of the ballot for each person who votes. However, Deshpande said the order currently being used was chosen at random.

Michael Benson, chair of the MSA Rules and Elections Committee, said last night that it seems unlikely that the randomization feature will be able to be fixed and restored for the rest of the current election. However, he said he plans to meet with ITS officials to further review the problem after the election to prevent a similar malfunction from occurring in the next election.

Benson said approximately 1,000 students voted before the randomization feature was disabled this morning. However, the issue affected only students who revisited their ballot after reviewing the ballot confirmation page.

Benson said ITS was reaching out to students last night who had voted before 8 a.m. yesterday and therefore may have experienced problems. Those students will receive an e-mail with a link to a new, secure website that will allow them to verify their ballot and make any necessary corrections.

Students who do not visit the website or change their ballot will be assumed to have cast their ballot properly and their votes will still be counted, Benson explained.

Benson stressed that though ITS is able to pair a student’s unique name to their individual ballot to recall who a student voted for, the information is confidential and is not shared with anyone else. The information, he said, is maintained specifically for situations like this.

MForward Presidential Candidate Chris Armstrong told the Daily last night he was dissatisfied with the problems on the voting website.

“I am very disappointed,” Armstrong said, pointing out that last fall the election website crashed temporarily. “I think the fact that a similar glitch occurred this year is just very frustrating because it shows that these problems aren’t being fixed, that there isn’t proper oversight or maintenance of a simple thing like the voting website.”

MVP Presidential Candidate Ian Margolis said in a statement last night that he was disappointed with the technical voting difficulties.

“It is unacceptable that this issue arose, especially because every student has the right to vote and should be confident that their vote is counted fairly so that their voices can be heard,” Margolis wrote in an e-mail. “While the election board has offered a remedy for the glitch, I remain disappointed that this happened at all.”

Multiple phone calls to DAAP Presidential Candidate Kate Stenvig went unreturned.

Some student voters also experienced a second problem when trying to access the voting website. Benson encouraged students to vote using the vote.umich.edu website. Though a second website, mvoteblue.com, was set up for this election, some students have reported problems with the site.

The sites are redirected to the same URL, Benson explained — meaning students could use either address. However, because some students have reported problems with mvoteblue.com, Benson is encouraging students to use vote.umich.edu to ensure they are able to access their ballot.

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