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The Daily Tar Heel

Student Elections Hit Cyberspace With New System

The program, created to make University-related voting more convenient for students, will allow people to access a ballot via Student Central on the UNC home page, beginning with the Homecoming elections on Nov. 8.

The idea for this program occurred to Student Body Secretary Michael Woods and Fred Hashagen, assistant student body secretary, during spring student government elections last year when they got exasperated after waiting in line to vote. "This system is going to be more effective," Woods said.

WebslingerZ, Inc., a Carrboro-based company, created the software.

"The only reason we're doing it is to make student lives easier and to increase voter turnout," said Student Body President Brad Matthews.

When they access the page, students will have to agree to an Honor Court statement and will see a disclaimer telling them their name will not be associated with their ballot. "The name, PID, year and on-campus status of voters will be separated from their votes onto two distinct lists," said Jeremy Tuchmayer, Elections Board chairman, who has been testing the program. "The whole process takes all of about a minute."

Although the new system can be used in the upcoming Homecoming elections, which fall outside of the Student Code, Student Congress must put the online voting into the code before it can be used in the spring elections.

"Homecoming is a really good time for us to first do this because it will allow us to make changes (for the spring elections), if need be," Matthews said.

After an operator error forced the board to hand count almost 4,000 votes in last spring's elections, Woods said the new system will prevent such problems from occurring in the future. "Obviously, computers are not perfect, but human error is taken out of it," he said.

Other minds behind the program are also confident that it will be successful. "This is not an experiment," Matthews said. "We want to make sure it will work before we implement it."

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