SGA election marred by
By Tim Williams
Senior Staff Writer
The legitimacy of this year's Student Government
Association election appears shaky amid charges that the Cougar 1Card system
workers are failing to keep students from
voting more than once.
Lorrie Novosad/The Daily
Junior political science
major Sherri Tullos watches as freshman university studies student Temilolu
Ayoola casts a ballot on the first day of
voting in the Student Government Association
Most troubling was the fact that a Daily
Cougar reporter received a ballot from a poll attendee at 12:15 p.m. in
the University Center after a
Cougar 1Card scanner, meant to ensure
students vote only once, rejected his card as having insufficient credit.
The reporter had voted 15
minutes before at Philip Guthrie Hoffman
The Cougar 1Card system, put in place to
protect the election from fraud, had succeeded, but the poll worker failed
to acknowledge the rejection,
permitting the reporter to vote a second
"Poll workers have been explicitly instructed
in the use of the Cougar 1Card machine," Election Commissioner John Martinez
said. Poll workers
will be reminded tomorrow how to confirm
that a student should be voting, Martinez said.
The Cougar 1Card database registers when
and where students vote, so if a name shows up twice on the record administrators
will know and
could take action against the student,
Since ballots are anonymous, it would be
next to impossible to connect a student with a vote or votes. Commissioners
must rely on poll
attendees to pay attention and guard against
voters casting multiple ballots.
"It would be an infraction of University
policy and could be penalized," Martinez said. "This is a matter that is
serious and we could go after you for
voting more than once."
Independent SGA presidential candidate
Fabian Sifuentes filed three complaints with the Election Commission on
Tuesday, including an
allegation that campaign worker Ed Davis
was given ballots twice during the first hour of polling. Sifuentes later
retracted the complaint after he
failed to replicate Davis' claim and was
informed by Campus Activities that they had record of Davis' card being
swiped only once.
Cougar 1Card computer records show that
Davis' card was swiped and approved at 9:40 a.m. in PGH, Cougar 1Card Office
Mitchell said. There is no record of his
card being swiped at another location, she said.
In an attempt to substantiate Davis' claim,
the same reporter with The Daily Cougar was able to scan his Cougar 1Card
and get a third ballot at
12:30 p.m. in the Moody Towers residence
"Someone accidentally pulled the network
cable at Moody Towers," Mitchell said.
The scanner was set up properly and online
when polls opened, but somehow got loose and was offline until approximately
12:30 p.m. when
Mitchell was phoned by Election Commissioner
John Martinez and told the scanner was unplugged, she said.
She plugged in the scanner again, securing
it with tape, Mitchell said.
According to the scanner's memory, about
10 students' cards were swiped while the network cable was unplugged, Mitchell
"I can tell if they voted more than once,"
she said. "If they haven't, I'll negate their vote from Moody Towers in
the central database."
The Cougar 1Card voting system is composed
of six card scanners networked by cable to a central student database that
Mitchell can access to
review the status of polling locations
and determine if students are voting multiple times.
The database permits one voting credit
for each eligible student and communicates to scanners if that credit has
been used, Mitchell said.
If the student has not voted and is approved,
the scanner beeps once and displays a message reading "transaction valid."
The scanner will
beep three times and display "transaction
invalid, exceeds credit limit" when students attempt to vote a second time,