Technical difficulties forced a two-hour extension of the voting period in the College of William and Mary’s Student Assembly elections Wednesday.
Problems ranged from the late reception of voting invitation e-mails to the non-reception of the unique voting passwords required to cast ballots.
“I was hoping to vote earlier today, but I haven’t gotten a password yet,” Lenna Walker ’11 said Wednesday. “If I don’t get it within the next couple of hours, I’m going to e-mail them. But they don’t have a number, so I don’t know how fast it’s going to be.”
Walker received a voting password later that evening. However, she was only able to vote on the executive ballot.
“I finally checked my e-mail around 8 p.m. and got a password, but only for the exec[utive],” she said. “I checked my e-mail later, and I think I got a password for the other one in the voting period, but didn’t get it in time, so I didn’t vote for senate.”
While e-mail voting invitations were sent out in the morning, many students did not receive passwords until several hours later, spanning through the afternoon and evening.
“I didn’t ever get the e-mail with the password,” Kara Starr ’10 said Wednesday. “I e-mailed [Gardner]. I know a couple of people who didn’t get e-mails until later in the day.”
Starr did not receive an e-mail with a password, but was given a password directly by the Elections Commission after asking for one, allowing her to vote in the election.
According to SA Elections Commission Chairman Andrew Gardner ’12, e-mails were sent to members of all social classes beginning at 7:00 a.m., but due to the high volume of e-mails being sent, arrived much later than expected.
“All I do know is that the e-mails are sent through eBallot,” Gardner said in an e-mail. “I have no control over how quickly the emails are sent out, and the system does send them all out at the same time. I can say I sent them out the absolute earliest time I could, but that still has not yielded the results we need.”
Gardner said he was unsure of how many students actually received e-mail voting invitations.
“There’s no way to check,” he said.
Gardner said that the SA worked throughout the day Wednesday to fix all reported difficulties with the eBallot system.
“The Elections Commission will be trying to work on this problem throughout the day,” Gardner said Wednesday. “I don’t know if we’ll have to redo [the invitations] or what. It’s kind of up in the air for where we go from here.”
The Elections Commission ultimately resent the e-mail invitation for the SA presidential ballot to all students.
“I sent one for the SA presidential election twice, per request of Sarah Rojas ’10,” Gardner said.
Gardner also said that future elections could be conducted through a different system.
“I think the use of the eBallot system should be heavily questioned for future elections,” he said.
Sen. Ross Gillingham ’10 said that future glitches should be handled by the College’s Information Technology department.
“We have an IT department here and should use them to sort out any problems,” Gillingham said.
Gillingham said that the eBallot system used Wednesday had significant drawbacks.
“It’s a third-party e-mail provider, and it takes them a while to be sent out,” he said. “I feel like they should have been sent earlier.”
According to Gillingham, future SA elections could use a different voting system than the eBallot system employed Wednesday, such as Opinio. Others have suggested a return to the Student Information Network to conduct elections.
“Other people used Opinio,” Gillingham said. “For whatever reason, that hasn’t been kept up. I’ve heard that Opinio may be easier, but it’s not as secure. The main thing is getting e-mails out in a timely fashion.”
While problems and glitches persisted throughout the day, Gardner said that student turnout did not seem to suffer.
When all ballots were counted, more students voted in Wednesday’s election than in any previous SA election.
“3,200 people voted, and the most people who’d voted [before] is 2,500,” Gillingham said. “As is, it was a pretty tremendous turnout.”