Mulligan!

The Daily Tar Heel is reporting that the Board of Elections may consider “re-doing” the Student Body President race because of some problems with the voting software. There are several things to consider here. The first is the Student Code. In Title I, Chapter 9, Section 902 (10), under the heading of “Responsibilities,” it states, “The BOE shall have the ability to call for a re-election if a violation occurred that might have affected the outcome or compromised the integrity of the election.”

Now, the key word in this passage is “violation”. Does a technological failure that prevented students from voting constitute a violation? It is quite clear that whatever happened “affected the outcome” of the election, as the margin of victory was a mere four votes and the number of affected voters seems to be quite high (with several students apparently being unable to send in a ballot via email because the BOE’s inbox was full of provisional ballots).

However, the Code never actually defines what a violation is in Title I. However, in Title VI, Chapter 7, Section 701 E (4), there is a category of “Technology” violations. According to the Code, “This category shall include but not be limited to campaigning online in illegal ways.” Seeing as the definition here is very broad and there is little other guidance in the Code for a situation like this, one could plausibly interpret the present situation as being a technological violation in Title VI, which would necessitate a re-vote via Title I because of its affect on the outcome of the election.

So, at least in my humble opinion, I believe that a re-election is, in fact, necessary and the proper procedure to follow per the Code. We should not allow technological glitches that prevent students from voting from having a disproportionate impact on the outcome of our elections. While the Code isn’t exactly crystal clear, there is a plausible case to be made for a mulligan.

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