ASUS switched to paper ballots during Department Student Council (DSC) elections last Thursday after experiencing errors in its online voting system, and there’s still confusion about who’s responsible.
While ASUS representatives say there was an issue with the list they received from the University Registrar, which confirms students’ eligibility to vote, the University says they were never contacted for a list by ASUS. Instead, according to the AMS, ASUS used a list created by the Registrar in January for the AMS winter elections. The University later said this list didn’t include the necessary information to validate ASUS voters.
“There was an issue with the student list we received from the Registrar’s office,” said ASUS Academics Commissioner Emily Graham, which she said forced the society to turn to paper ballots.
Graham, ArtSci ’15, said she received emails from AMS Chief Returning Officer Tyler Lively as well as students and other ASUS council members informing her that they were unable to vote for their registered major or minor DSC. In some cases, students were registered to vote under a different program than their own.
ASUS expected a decrease in voter turnout due to the technical issues, which led it to extend voting hours. By the time the Journal went to print, ASUS had yet to determine voter turnout.
The Philosophy DSC organized its own election through SurveyMonkey — which Graham said she hadn’t known about until it had already begun.
“I am now working with them to ensure that the election is carried out in a fair and legitimate way,” Graham said via email.
“This will require sufficient information regarding student concentrations, as well as ASUS oversight of the ensuing election and verification process.”
Queen’s Communications Director Kristyn Wallace told the Journal via email that the Office of the University Registrar wasn’t asked to provide a list specifically for the ASUS DSC elections. The Registrar created a list for AMS elections on Jan. 8, but this list wouldn’t have included all the information ASUS used to validate voters.
AMS Commissioner of Internal Affairs Claire Cathro confirmed to the Journal via email that the list used for ASUS’s DSC elections was the Jan. 8 list created by the Registrar for AMS elections.
“We receive our student lists from the University Registrar which includes information for students’ academic plans,” said Cathro, ArtSci ’15.
AMS elections didn’t require segmentation based on student academic plans, so the referendum wouldn’t have been affected if the information was wrong, Cathro said.
“We will be discussing with the Registrar to ensure the information we receive moving forward is correct.”
ASUS President Adam Grotsky said the society isn’t to blame for the glitch.
“The big question is, ‘why were these lists inaccurate?’ Unfortunately, it was out of our hands,” said Grotsky, ArtSci ’15.
Last year was the first year ASUS implemented its own online voting system, prior to which it used paper ballots. But the system wasn’t intricate enough, Grotsky said, so student numbers and programs had to be manually cross-referenced after voting to ensure legitimacy.
He said ASUS hoped the switch to the AMS system this year would fix the validation problem because the system pre-verifies student information — but this wasn’t the case.
This year also marked the first year the AMS switched to the Simply Voting system for its elections, after its contract with Votenet, the online voting system it previously used, expired last August.
Online polling for the ASUS DSC election opened March 5, when students received an email at 12:03 a.m. At 9:45 a.m., another email was sent out informing students that, due to issues with the system, they’d be required to cast their votes in person.
“To ensure that we do have legitimate elections for the positions, we had no choice but to switch to paper ballots,” Grotsky said.
The results of the DSC elections have been posted online on the ASUS Facebook page.
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