Technology Glitch Delays AAS Election Results
Issue   |   Wed, 10/02/2013 - 00:28

At the close of Election Day (Thursday, Sept. 26), aspiring senators had one last item on their political agenda: the wait. They had done all they could to elicit support from their peers; the election results were scheduled for release that following Saturday at 12 a.m. However, on Friday, Sept. 27, the AAS Elections Committee sent out two school-wide e-mails explaining “E” students were unable to vote on Election Day. Alternative voting was established and the wait for results was extended to Sunday at 1 a.m.

By the time Election Day’s technical glitch was discovered late Friday afternoon, the work day had ended. As such, AAS was unable to immediately utilize the support of the IT department. Acting on its own, AAS tested the original voting page to evaluate if it could be restricted to “E” students. Finding that it couldn’t be done without IT’s support, Vice President Noah Gordon ’14, who previously served as Elections Chair and AAS Webmaster, created separate web forms that exclusively allowed “E” students to vote.

“This turned out to be a clean solution, and in the end all of the votes were properly collected,” Gordon said.

Created in 2009 with the help of the IT department, the present-day online voting system can regulate voter participation in three ways. Firstly, it can limit voter participation to non-“E” students. Secondly, it can limit voter participation to “E” students. And, finally, as was originally intended for this past election, it can take into account votes from both non-“E” students and “E” students. According to Director of Web Services David Hamilton, the voting problem was caused by the utilization of the wrong option.

“This year’s issue was with configuration — there was no malfunction; the election was not configured to allow voting by ‘E’ students,” Hamilton said.

In an effort to avoid similar voting issues in the future, AAS representatives will be meeting with the IT department within the week.

“We’ll work on some documentation and ask [the members of the Elections Committee] to consider reaching out to IT each time they begin election preparation. This way, we can answer any questions they may have and advise them on the process,” Hamilton said.

It’s not numerically clear how significant the votes of the “E” students influenced the election. The voting system automatically makes every vote anonymous, so AAS doesn’t have voting demographic information readily available. However, according to Gordon, this year’s election saw a “high turnout in comparison to that of other years.”

Ultimately, the polls were re-opened for the sake of having every student’s voice represented.

Gordon elaborated further on this point: “We [the AAS] are very committed to making sure each student has a chance to raise their voice and be heard, and this extends to the realm of elections. We do our best to make sure that every voter is represented, even if this means extra work on our end and a few all-school emails.”