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Volume 69, Issue 109, Thursday, March 11, 2004


Staff Editorial


                            Matt Dulin    Barrett Goldsmith    Zach Lee 
                Jim Parsons            Christian Schmidt           Blake Whitaker

Day one

In the first 11 hours of the Student Government Association general election, five complaints were filed.

That's five chances for the Election Commission to set things straight. It's also five chances for bad politics and disregard for the rules, to thrive at UH.

We're counting on the former.

Past commissions were notorious for slap-on-the-wrist punishments and scant attention to the Election Code, which makes it all the more important for this year's to be fair, yet heavy-handed. It's the students' only line of defense against a fraudulent election.

The majority of the complaints arose from the establishment of two de facto polling locations by Student Voice and UH 4 U party members at the Philip Guthrie Hoffman Hall Breezeway. Workers for each party set up laptops there without permission from the University, corralled students toward the computers and told them how to vote, often while handing the potential voters party propaganda.

Sure, the location may have boosted turnout, but it did so in violation of University rules. Unfortunately, the Election Code, which is woefully out of touch with the realities of online voting, has no provision against the creation of impromptu voting locations except to say that parties must go through the proper channels to get approval.

Both UH 4 U and Student Voice are charged with infractions that can be punished with disqualification of the candidates involved.

The Election Commission should immediately bar party influence from the PGH Breezeway, and, if it feels it's necessary, set up an official voting location there. If members of either party try to set up alternate locations, disqualification is the only fair response.

The Election Commission must show attention to the rules and little mercy to candidates who break them. The rules are in place for a reason -- to protect the vote and the students.

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