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The Daily Tar Heel

Online ballot difficulties dismissed

When freshman Rachel Cole logged on to Student Central to cast her vote in the student body elections Tuesday, she was surprised to discover she was able to vote only in Student Congress districts she does not live in. 

After trying to vote in a random district, Cole received a notice that this could be considered an Honor Code violation. She couldn’t figure out how to vote for some offices and not others.

So rather than pursuing the matter further or contacting the Board of Elections, Cole gave up.

“I was a little bit confused,” she said. “So I just didn’t vote.”

Several students reported to The Daily Tar Heel and the Board of Elections that they experienced difficulties voting in Tuesday’s election, calling into question the validity of the election if some students were confused by the process and dissuaded from voting.

But the Board of Elections did not invalidate the election, saying it was a minor problem that only a few students experienced.

Based on the complaints, some students were provided with options to vote in Student Congress districts they do not live in. Others were allowed to vote for senior class president despite not being seniors next year.

It’s unclear how widespread the problem was. Board of Elections Chairman Pete Gillooly said he had received a small number of complaints but was not concerned by the problem. Gillooly added that students could fill out paper ballots and slip them under the door at the Board of Elections office. But this was not widely publicized information.

On Tuesday night, Gillooly said he had no plans to invalidate the election and that he had filed a complaint with Information Technology Services, which is responsible for controlling the voting technology.

“It’s out of my control,” Gillooly said. “I have nothing to do with it.”

 Jerri Bland, ITS executive director for enterprise applications, said the Board of Elections is responsible for ensuring the elections go as planned and ITS could not fix any problems immediately.

Gillooly said the problem has happened in the past, a fact confirmed by Ryan Morgan, the 2008-09 chairman of the Board of Elections.

Morgan said the registrar’s office sometimes incorrectly lists a student’s residence or registration information, leading to problems, but the chairman can override this.

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