Inexperience, Technical Difficulties Beset First Day of ASUC Elections





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The first day of the 2002 ASUC elections kicked off yesterday with poll workers showing up late, ballot boxes being misplaced and technological glitches hindering voting.

But after the ballot boxes made it to their proper destinations and workers showed up, the first day ran smoothly, according to student government officials.

Card-swiping machines at some polling places, however, kept losing power, forcing the sites to turn to a provisional balloting system. Instead of swiping a student ID card through the machine to verify enrollment and prevent double voting, poll workers took down students' names and ID and telephone numbers and placed the information in an envelope for later verification of enrollment.

Elections Council Chair Faisal Ghori said he could not explain the networking problems at the polling places but said parts of the problem had to do with poll workers' inexperience with the machinery.

But some students, who were unable to vote at their polling places of choice because of the glitches, said they were not deterred from voting.

"It's not really discouraging to me because I have a class by another polling place," said UC Berkeley junior Roshan Gujar. "But I can understand how someone might be discouraged."

With traditionally low voter turnout for the three-day ASUC election, some are worried the rough start could mean even fewer students will vote. The Elections Council predicts that 10,000 people will vote in this year's election.

Ghori said the day started out with problems but that they were remedied after an hour and a half. The elections thus far are going well.

"It started out hectic, then it went much more smoothly," Ghori said.

The League of Women Voters, which supervises the elections, is enlisting approximately 113 volunteers at ten polling places around campus.

This is the first year ASUC has installed their own ethernet lines to electronically connect the polling places. Last year, the council used lines from university departments for elections, but they were not allowed to use them this year.

Former Elections Council Chair Bret Heilig agreed with Ghori's assessment of the first day of voting and praised Ghori's coordinating efforts.

"Overall, I'm very impressed in how it turned out," Heilig said. "I think a lot of people were doom-and-gloom up until the last minute and Faisal's proven them wrong."

Heilig said, however, the election is not without flaws. He said there has been "less respect for the law" this year by campaigners.

Polling places were not well marked-off, allowing several candidates to campaign within 100 feet of the polls-a disqualifying offense in election by-laws, Heilig said.

Additionally, several printing errors left campaign advertisements out of the ASUC voters guide and forced corrections to be made on the ballots.

Ghori said the council is "making corrections now" to fix the error.

Some candidates said they felt the elections should have been online this year and criticized the placing of polls in the residence halls, saying it "made freshmen seem more important."

Five of 16 polling places are in residence hall dining commons and are open during dinner hours.

Many candidates said they are looking forward to returning to normal student life.

"I'm glad that elections are finally coming to an end," said Cal-SERVE senator Evan Holland, running for external affairs vice president.

Students are just as relieved that the election season is ending and campaigners will soon retire their picket signs and loud gimmicks.

"I'm glad the campaign is almost over because although (candidates) put in a lot of work they are crowding up Sproul (Plaza)," said UC Berkeley sophomore Edmund Lau.

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