Among the sea of posters and chalk drawings promoting candidates for student body offices, one set of 8.5×11 papers caused more trouble than could have been predicted. Along with three legitimate candidates running for student body president, one junior, with encouragement from his AP English class, decided to run his own parody campaign.
Diran Gilian’s many posters spread to all parts of the school and quickly became popular for their witty slogans.
“If I can’t do it, somebody else probably can” read one paper taped in the window of Nina Seibel’s classroom.
In fact, Diran cannot do it because he did not take the required student body constitution test, and somebody else will following next Wednesday’s run-off election between Talia Gonzalez and Trenton Sanders.
Gilian’s mock campaign (he is now running seriously for senior class president) highlighted what many students see as problems in school elections. Issues in the student body elections included rooms left out of the poll and questions about the value of the constitution test.
The voting protocol is to approach each class during fourth period with a poster and scantrons, so that almost every student may get a chance to vote. This year, however, something went wrong.
Students claim to never having seen a ballot. Classes such as the back buildings, Theater, and others reported not getting ballots. It is unclear how many rooms were not polled, or if the problem was that student government representatives missed the rooms or if teachers turned the representatives away.
“What a lot of people don’t know is that it is often the teachers that forfeit the votes because they consider voting to be too time consuming,” said Junior Vice President Jerry Nava, “Student government can miss classrooms, but more often than not, we are not welcome in the classroom because it disrupts class.”
In fourth period classes where ballots did arrive on April 9, many voters bubbled in the write-in option to dedicate their vote to Gilian. However, the write-in portions of these ballots were not counted; they were voided, due to section 9 part L of the Rio Constitution which states: “There shall be no write-in votes cast for any office except in the case of a vacant office.”
Possibly owing to the large number of write-ins or the missed rooms, no candidate received a majority. Therefore a run-off has taken place, with only the top two finishers being placed into the runoff election.
Though some in student government blame Gilian for the confusion, students question the integrity of the voting protocols.
Before anyone can run for office, whether it be a class position or an ASB position, the candidate to-be must first pass a test on the Rio Constitution.
“The Constitution test is pointless,” senior student government member Keenan Fine said. “There should be a test specific to your position, not student government in general.”
Important and necessary information is quizzed on the Constitution test. How to pass a motion in a meeting and duties of specific positions are pertinent to a well oiled and smoothly operated student government.
Many students are not aware that a Rio Constitution even exists.
“I had never heard of it until just now,” said junior Amanda Draper. “I didn’t even know anything had power of the student body except the school rules.”
Usually, votes are tallied by feeding each scantron into a special ballot-counter and the machine is trusted to give an accurate count of the votes.
However, this year the machine refused to properly count votes despite efforts from many involved. The cause for the issue in machinery has been attributed to the machine’s old age.
“The machine is just so old and dusty it wouldn’t work,” said student government member and Elections Co-Chair Yeagee Jung, “and we don’t have the funding to get a new one. So, to make sure the president’s votes were counted correctly, our teacher counted them by hand.”
Many solutions have been proposed to student government. Lunchtime voting was largely dismissed due to a fear in a lack of participation. Walk-throughs in classrooms were implemented this year because of the ability to give everyone a chance to vote.
A new system is currently being considered.
“Next year I hope for either online voting or at least a more organized system of going to the classes,” said junior President and ASB President run-off candidate Talia Gonzalez.
“We’ve used it for electing parents to site council,” Tom Nelson said. “We haven’t had much of a problem with voter fraud, but those are parents. Students would be much more likely to encroach upon election fraud. It’d be something to discuss with student government or the elections committee.”
Most problems that have become apparent from the 2014 ASB election have already been or are in the process of being remedied.
There will always be difficulties with student body elections. But student government will continue to work to fix them.