Posted at 12 p.m. Oct. 10, 2013

SGA discovers electoral tampering

Executive committee deliberates, reboots ballot tally

By Kasey M. Orr

After evidence of election tampering was brought to light during the evening of Oct. 3, the Laramie County Community College Student Government Association restarted the election process with three days remaining, announcing the results on Oct. 7.

The election to fill three senatorial positions was set to run from Sept. 30 to Oct. 6, but after discovering a member of the SGA had been actively campaigning for electoral candidates—a form of tampering prohibited by the student code of conduct—the elections were stopped Oct. 3.

One student, who wished to remain anonymous, said she was approached by two students with a laptop and asked to vote but to vote for the first and seventh candidate on the list.

Election tampering claims backed by security footage

When rumors of this reached the members of SGA leadership, a short investigation commenced to substantiate the claims, and a senator seen in security footage approaching students with a laptop was confronted and asked to stop.

Available members of the SGA executive committee then convened a special session, where they met with adviser Danielle Saulsberry and Vice President of Student Services Judy Hay. After discussing possible actions weighing fairness and necessity, the SGA reached a decision. The electoral ballots up to the time of the discovery were to be dismissed, and the election restarted early Friday, Oct. 5, running until 5 p.m. Sunday.

“We divided the issue into two parts,” SGA president Stephen Becker said. “We haven’t dealt with the people involved yet, but to ensure a fair election, we closed it...and reopened it for the weekend.”

Saulsberry said the discussion involved the group asking themselves “Should we run it another week, or be as fair as we possibly can be and open [the election] up again, at that point, until when it was going to end?”

According to Saulsberry three principle factors led to the decision: First, those in the executive session did not want a repeat of the election infraction. Secondly, she said a full postponement was avoided because “we didn’t want a discussion of why it had to be restarted.” The third was getting the fairest election result possible.

Although no official announcement was made on campus, President Becker said in order to inform the student body of this change, a pop-up window was set on the EaglesEye website telling students to recast their votes.

Saulsberry explained that after each student voted on EaglesEye, the voting information no longer appeared in his account, but after the election rebooted, the election option and message once again returned to allow the student to re-vote.

No sanction levied for infraction

The decision had to find a balance, according to Becker, between fairness and the fact that without senators filling the vacant positions, the student government could not operate effectively the way it was intended. Becker said the elections were normally held much earlier, and the executive committee had to take the issue of timeliness into account.

The SGA had not decided on any actions or sanctions against the senator responsible for the code of conduct infraction as of the end of an executive session held Oct. 9.

After having spoken to the individual as part of the campus judicial board, Saulsberry said, “I don’t think there was any ill will or malicious intent,” but rather a lack of knowledge responsible for the senator’s actions during the election process.

The responsible student senator may face actions anywhere from an internal or official warning or reprimand to the initiation of an impeachment process for removal from office.

In the Oct. 9 executive session the SGA leaders were already drafting new policies to prevent such election tampering and other actions in the future.

“I think from this the [SGA members] learned a lot,” Saulsberry said, “and are definitely going to make stricter rules about what can be done during elections.”

Meanwhile, the results of the election have been officially announced, naming Jie Wang, Brittanie Hyatt and Jackson Craft as new senators.

Wang and Hyatt are students in business administration, with Wang also focused on accounting. Craft is currently enrolled in the nursing program.



Link to LCCC SGA