Students abroad denied the vote

Commerce students’ voices ‘silenced’ after first year of online voting thwarted by hacking of AMS website

This 2009 was supposed to be supposed to be the first year students on exchange were able to vote in AMS elections and referenda while overseas, but the effort was thwarted due to the recent hacking of the AMS website.

Because about 200 business students go on exchange every year, the effort was largely spearheaded by Commerce Society President Matthew Price.

Price said the idea came about in the wake of last year’s AMS election, in which Team RWS won by 21 votes after three recounts.

He said ComSoc was originally going to manage the elections under AMS supervision, but the AMS offered to administer the voting. Exchange students were sent a ballot via e-mail and told to send it back to an AMS e-mail address. No problems arose until Jan. 25, when the breach of the AMS servers was discovered.

Price said he was told by AMS Chief Electoral Officer Mike Koichopolous that, because lists of exchange students from other faculties weren’t available, it wouldn’t be fair to count only commerce students’ votes.

“They were told that it was not fair that commerce students have this opportunity and students from other faculties don’t.”

Price said he’s upset the ballots weren’t counted.

“Two hundred of our students didn’t get the opportunity to vote,” he said. “In my view it’s commerce students’ voices being silenced in this election.”

He hopes this situation can be avoided next year, he said.

“Next year, I would like to see all students have the opportunity to elect their student government,” he said. “I want to make sure we can work together next year.”

Commissioner of Internal Affairs Alexa Gendron-O’Donnell said this isn’t the first year attempts to implement online voting were thwarted.

“Voting for exchange students has actually not been offered in the past,” she told the Journal via e-mail. “Though there have been efforts in past years to arrange it, logistical problems have prohibited its completion.

“This year, we had planned [to] institute a voting process via e-mailed ballot for exchange students. However, a lack of information from some faculties involved as well as the security breach of the AMS servers did not allow us to complete this as planned.”

Gendron-O’Donnell said online voting is a natural next step for AMS elections, adding that the AMS viewed a demonstration of an online voting program run by an outside company last week.

“They are currently working on an AMS-specific online voting proposal that we hope to see by the end of the month,” she said. “Due to the fact that the system is external to the AMS servers, any IT issues would have no effect on the system’s effectiveness.”

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