Student Elections Snarled Up, Extended

Carl Brooks

Miscommunications between Student Life and Computing Services left the student elections here at UMB in shambles last week. Many students who tried to vote online found that their names did not match up to the college they are enrolled in, leading to miscast ballots and frustration.

The problems started last Tuesday and were fixed by noon on Thursday, according to Student Senate President Susan Smith, and the voting was extended to April 27.

To see the election results and for a special section on campus voting, check The Mass Media’s website,

The voting was restarted on Thursday, and everyone who had voted was asked to do so again.

“It was the right decision,” said Smith. “We knew who had voted, although of course it was anonymous, we didn’t know who they had voted for.” But, the senate had e-mail addresses and phone numbers of students who had voted, Smith said, “So we asked them to vote again… we called everyone we didn’t have an e-mail for.”

Campus elections have been plagued by low turnout, but Smith said that despite the problems, she was confident that turnout would be higher this year, “I’ve had so many people come up to me and say, ‘You were the person who reminded me to vote!’…I sent out a blast e-mail to the entire UMB community.” Last year less than 10 percent of eligible students voted. The senate also ran a flyer campaign and had volunteers staff campus computer terminals to help students vote.

According to Joe Peters, website administrator for, which hosted the online voting, the problem lay in confusion over the amount and kind of information his department needed, and they didn’t have enough time to test the list for errors before the polls opened.

“What we got on the first go around, Monday April 12, was a text file of about 2000 students, no idea what students they were, and they did not have any e-mail address listed.” Peters explained in an e-mail.

“Wednesday April 14, we got a better list, this time with e-mail addresses, but there was not an e-mail address for everyone.

“Friday afternoon we finally got one file of about 9000 students” that contained all the information Peters needed, but there were still formatting problems, and with one working day left before the elections, “I think by the time the registrar and I squared away what we needed, the list being given to us did not accurately represent students eligible to vote.”

Both the Registrar and Student Life collaborated to get the enrollment lists to Peters.

Smith and Peters think only a small number of voters was affected, but nevertheless, Joyce Morgan, director of student life, sent out a broadcast e-mail last Wednesday that said in part, “It is my understanding that while many students have been able to vote, there have been some who have been unable… We have also extended elections until 2pm Friday, and may extend longer if the problem is not solved.”

Peters says it’s easy to understand the miscommunications.

“Whether it’s a crumbling garage, a lack of good signage, long lines at a cafeteria, or blunders in online voting, we are a campus spread thin.”