Elections board releases seemingly inconsistent election results

Elections board releases seemingly inconsistent election results

CW File

The SGA has released seemingly inconsistent results from last month's special senate election. This follows an order from the Student Judiciary on Monday to release required elections results for the special senate election and homecoming election. The order was given after University student, Ryan Truitt submitted a "Motion to Compel," urging the Judiciary to release such a ruling. 

In both senate elections – which were held to fill seats that were not filled in the spring election – the numbers of votes cast exceeded the number of voters. In the College of Education election, 534 people voted and 662 votes were cast – 128 more votes than there were voters. In the Graduate School election, 166 people voted and 219 votes were cast – 53 more votes than there were voters. 

Ethan Fialkow, chair of the Elections Board, said this discrepancy happened because students were allowed to vote for more than one candidate. 

"Each student that voted was able to cast a vote for each available seat," Fialkow said. 

Allowing students to vote more than once seems to be in violation of the SGA Constitution, Article VIII, Section 2, Subsection B.  

"Students may cast one vote for the Senate in their primary college of enrollment," the document reads. 

For the College of Education, the top two candidates were awarded seats in the Senate. The two candidates receiving the most votes were Shelby McPhail and Madison Soto, each receiving 337 and 319 votes respectively.  

In the special senate election for the Graduate School, the top two candidates receiving votes were Jennifer Baggett and John Ferretti at 114 and 91 votes respectively.  

In the fall homecoming queen election, homecoming queen Abigail Greenberg received 8,227, close to 75 percent of the votes. The number was nearly 7,000 more than the second place candidate, Alex Smith, who received 1,451 votes. 

Votes for homecoming queen were also cast for "Nick Saban," "Jesus," "Donald Trump," " :) ," "WHO CARES," "The Machine Controls the campus, democracy in the student government is a facade," and over 100 other write-in candidates. 

Additionally, the order required the Elections Board to release a statement regarding their failure to follow the disclosure timelines set by the elections manual.  Within the same statement, the SGA reassured the public that the Elections Board “has been and will remain committed to fairness and transparency in elections at The University of Alabama.”

“We take full responsibility for these mistakes,” their statement read. “This committee has always and will always work, in good faith, for the betterment of the electoral system at The University of Alabama.”

Students concerned about the Board’s transparency now have a chance to view fall elections results for both the homecoming queen and the special senate election and will be given the standard two days to appeal the results.

The Board also released financial disclosure forms for candidates for senate and homecoming queen. Five of the nine candidates said they spent no money on their campaign. The four remaining candidates, Mackenzie Brannan, Alex Smith, Shelby McPhail and Abigail Greenberg, spent $40, $95.95, $221.92, and $350 respectively. 

Students concerned about the Board’s transparency this past spring will, to this point in time, not be given more information about the election.

While students such as Truitt seek answers concerning last semester’s highly contested SGA presidential election, the Elections Board and Student Judiciary have said their hands are tied because of changes in office in both positions since last semester. 

Chief Justice Eleanor Bowers cited her inauguration as a leading reason behind keeping the spring election results concealed from the public. Bowers, a senior majoring in political science and history, also stated that the resignation of the entire Elections Board last semester seriously hindered the Judiciary’s ability to order the release of spring election results. 

“I just felt that I could really only speak to fall elections because it is under my term as chief justice," Bowers said. 

Truitt said he understood the Judiciary’s reasoning behind not releasing the spring results, but urged the Elections Board to release spring 2017 results, "as an example of full transparency for the elections process.”

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