(Logo courtesy of UM-Dearborn Student Government)

By RICKY LINDSAY, Editor-in-Chief

The University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Student Government elections, originally scheduled for April 6-7, have been pushed back to April 13-14 due to ballot errors.

It’s the second time this year’s election has been pushed back — on April 6, Reetha Raveendran, director of the Office for Student Engagement, emailed students, stating that votes for that day were considered invalid and the election would be held April 7-8.

On April 7, Monica Porter, assistant vice chancellor for enrollment management and student life, told students via email that elections “will have to be stopped and rescheduled for next week.”

“Errors on the ballot were found and they are now being addressed,” Porter said in the email. “We are committed to a campus community where the student election process is deemed fair and inclusive for all. Moving forward, the Presidents of the parties and I will be included in the finalization of the ballot process. It is based on their feedback.”

Porter said in an email to the Michigan Journal that once voting is live, “any errors identified would require ITS to stop the voting and correct the error offline.” A new ballot would have to be launched before elections resume.

Porter identified two issues that caused elections to be pushed back.

“The first problem consisted of voters having the ability to cast votes without limits. This would have been a violation of the constitution; therefore, the voting was stopped and the limits were added in accordance with the constitution,” Porter said. “After this process was corrected, a new ballot was developed and launched only to discover that the name of a candidate was listed incorrectly. This error stopped the election process for the second time.”

According to Porter, the three presidential candidates ensured names of all candidates were properly listed with the Office for Student Engagement. She also “reviewed and approved” the names.

Not everyone has been happy about the elections being pushed back twice. When asked what her message to those students would be, Porter said, “We recognize that students are disappointed about the elections being delayed twice, but as a campus community, we strive to ensure that all candidates experienced an inclusive and fair election process. The candidates have worked hard on their campaigns and they have continued to encourage their supporters to vote on Wednesday, April 13, and Thursday, April 14, 2016. We are expecting a successful election process.”

Mazen Hammoud, presidential candidate with Students Serving Students, told the Journal via email that the elections were pushed back due to “misrepresentation of candidates on a ballot.” He believes students should be informed with the things that contributed to it.

We need to be informed about where the process failure was, what or who actually caused this and what will be done to make sure it does not happen again. This entire election process has been extremely unsatisfactory, from superseding the official Election Guideline timetable, among other sections… to unfulfilled promises — example: saying students will receive a sample ballot a week before the election — to the fact that ballots were submitted wrong twice, leading to two cancellations in 24 hours. Frankly, it goes to show how much effort and care was put into the elections this year, when at minimum the last two elections — I was present for these so I can attest — there have been effectively no issues.”

Hammoud said his campaign is “feeling the frustration,” but is letting students know that they will focus on the issues this election has endured.

“Our party wants students to know that these will not be taken lightly. We have been asked the question, why vote if the elections aren’t going to count, or if they are “rigged” as some suspected. Our answer is always the same, the election is not being rigged and there is no conspiracy. The problem lies with the actual running of the election. There should be an investigation by administration to find and detail to the students what went wrong and why.

“Students deserve leaders who will investigate and follow up, and take any appropriate steps to ensure that it does not happen again. Therefore, it is critical to vote, to ensure the candidates who will make sure their frustration is heard and addressed will be elected.”

The Journal reached out to presidential candidates Nasri Sobh and Fiana (Syeda) Arbab, but requests for comment were not returned.