The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Due to Online Survey Problem, Elections Took One Month

3 min read


Staff Writer

In an unforeseen chain of events, freshman class council elections took nearly a month of re-elections and runoff elections to determine conclusive results.

The original ballots were cast on Sept. 8 and 9 for each of the class of 2014 Class Council positions: president, vice president, treasurer and promotions director. However, on this original ballot the names of Moira Dilks, treasurer hopeful, and Lilian Perez, presidential hopeful, were switched.

According to Class Council President Austin Bartenstein, not all freshmen showed up to the nominations and instead sent proxies who did not have the information about which position the candidate desired.

The candidates were notified and a re-election was scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday of the following week. Each was given an allotted $15 for campaigning, in addition to the original $30 in accordance with the Class Council constitution.

“We felt bad for the candidates,” said Joe Mollo, director of student activities.

However, when Mollo and his colleagues went to check the results of the re-election, they found that the school’s subscription to the survey taker, Zarca, had expired. All results of the re-election were lost.

According to Pam Lowery, director of user services, the school has subscribed to Zarca for five years and has never had a problem like this before.

After the incident, the school’s license to the tool was activated, and there are a number of polls and surveys being taken with it now.

“We will make every effort to ensure that there are no active surveys at the time that our license renewal is due,” Lowery said.

The election then went to a paper ballot. All positions were filled through this election except that of the president, which had to go to a runoff election.

The Class Council constitution states that if three or more candidates run for the same position, the winner must have a 50 percent majority of the votes. This did not happen for the freshman class president election and another smaller election for the position was held.

Perez did not make it to the runoff election, but was offered the option of contesting the election if she wished, Bartenstein said. She did not.

Dilks, who ran for treasurer, does not think the paper ballot drew enough attention.

“I do not think everyone turned out for the paper ballot, which made it a little unfair,” Dilks said. “The students have busy lives and it would be much easier for them to use the electronic ballot. In fact, I didn’t even turn out for the paper ballot.”

According to Bartenstein, around 100 students came out for the paper ballots.

However, this is not uncommon for it to take this long

“At the end of my freshman year, four people ran for president,” said Bartenstein. “I was in a runoff with one other person, who contested after the runoff paper ballot election. That was a three-week process, one week shorter than this year’s for president. Runoffs happen often but class council sees them as necessary to make the process fair.”

According to Bartenstein, the process would ideally take a week, but rarely does.

“It’s been unfortunately lengthy this year,” said Christina Eggenberger, associate director of student activities and community services. “I know the candidates have been frustrated. So has Class Council. They look forward to getting freshmen officers.”

Eggenberger said that some of this frustration has come from the need to train new officers.

“There is a lot to learn,” Eggenberger said.

The freshmen officers are in charge of Devil-Goat Day and help Class Council in planning other traditional events throughout the year.

Follow me on Twitter