Associated Students suspends election

Associated Students candidates restarted their campaigns from scratch last Wednesday after the original election and its results were suspended and declared null mere days before spring break.

“After review it seems there are several anomalies with the list that was generated of the potential voters and who is enrolled at Sonoma State University for the spring of 2014,” said AS Elections Advisor Erik Dickson in an e-mail, announcing the suspension of the election until after spring break and clarifying none of the candidates “did anything wrong.”

Before the e-mail was sent out to all students, both candidates and students alike were expecting to learn the results of the voting by the evening of March 11. With the suspension, the new voting period will begin this Wednesday and continue through Thursday.

“I think [a disappointed reaction] was true for all of the candidates, even the candidates who were running unopposed,” said presidential candidate Anthony Gallino. “Because [they] put in time, put in effort, work hard, spend a lot of money out of [their] own pocket to put on all this, reach out to students as much as possible and build up a momentum over those two weeks. The momentum is totally lost if you have to do it after spring break.”

The reason the elections were suspended was due to the fact that several registered students did not receive an electronic ballot through their Seawolf e-mail accounts, while several other students who have already graduated did.

Gallino said that becuase the common management system that keeps lists of students’ information was updated over the summer, the query that Associated Students usually enters into the system to reach all current students in order for them to vote didn’t “translate over like it should have.”

“It’s not easy to run those reports, and we make that request of them weeks in advance, or at least days in advance of the election to begin with to send to the polling company that we pay for the ballot,” said Gallino. “With timelines and where everybody was at in departments, it just wasn’t possible probably to do it any sooner.”

“I believe the Elections Commissioner [Angie Ulloa] made the right choice by suspending the elections because it would have been unfair to the students who did not receive their voting ballots if they did not get a chance to have their voices heard,” said presidential candidate Bianca Zamora in an e-mail interview.

Elections Commissioner Ulloa and vice presidential candidate Christian George could not be reached for comment.

“All students should receive the e-mail to vote when they redo the election next week, however if anyone does not get the e-mail they should contact the elections commissioner or anyone in Associated Students,”  said vice presidential candidate Annie Green in an e-mail interview. “It is important every student is given the opportunity to cast their vote, and if they can’t do so they should come speak to someone on the second floor of the Student Center.”

One of the main problems the candidates now have is reinvigorating the students who voted the first time to get them to come back and vote a second time.

“Voters become disenfranchised when they feel their vote doesn’t count,” said Gallino. “Personally I had concerns over momentum the candidates had built up, I raised concerns over the campus being sort of irritated and annoyed by the level of campaigning because anybody could see if they walked around it was littered with signs and chalk and everything. People are tired of Facebook posts: it crowds their feeds and their walls. Anytime you tell a person your vote didn’t count the first time, they need to vote a second time, they’re less likely to vote the second time for that very reason. They feel like ‘Well why? My vote didn’t count the first time, why should I believe it counts a second?’”

Campaigning will take place tomorrow and Thursday. Students will receive their electronic ballots through their Seawolf e-mail accounts. 

Those who do not receive a ballot are encouraged to contact the Associated Students with their name and I.D. number.

“What we need is a united effort of all of the candidates and the campus as a whole to get out and vote and make sure the students have the opportunity to vote and that they do,” said Gallino.