Wendesday, March 27, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 117


 
 









 
 

SGA election marred by voting mishaps

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 and poll
workers are failing to keep students from voting more than once.



Lorrie Novosad/The Daily Cougar

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 elections.

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 Hall.

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 time.

"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, Martinez said.

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 Manager Jackie
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 hall.

"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 said.

"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, she said.
 
 
 

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