Ballots Left Unsecured in Council Office

Completed ballots from this week's Undergraduate Council referendum on the $10 term bill hike and four other issues were found unsecured in the council's office early yesterday morning.

The Crimson observed a box containing the completed ballots on a desk next to envelopes full of blank ballots at about 12:30 a.m. yesterday.

The possibility of ballot stuffing or tampering could force the council to invalidate some of the votes cast Monday, according to Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III.

All council members have keys to the office and would have been able to stuff the box, charged Anjalee C. Davis '96, a former council member who is helping run the referendum.

"The ballot box is made of cardboard and taped at the bottom, so ballot replacement would not have been difficult," said Davis, whose petition drive led to the College-wide referendum.

Completed ballots were moved yesterday to Epps' office, but still may not be counted in the final tally, according to the dean and council President Carey W. Gaby '94.

The council voided a referendum solely on the fee hike last month because of numerous improprieties, which included charges that ballots were left unattended in the council office.

But council members, Davis and Epps said that they do not expect the entire referendum to be invalidated again.

Council Secretary Brandon C. Gregoire '95 called The Crimson late last night and threatened to Ad Board Davis, this reporter and a Crimson photographer who entered the council office, as well as the managing editor, if this story appeared today.

"I'm telling you you're not authorized to be in this office--that's trespassing," Gregoire said. "I'm not bull shitting. You will be Ad Boarded--Anjalee, your reporter and your fucking photographer."

During the first referendum, the council placed ballots in a locked box only after the second day of voting, Vice President Joshua D. Liston '95 said in late April. Epps said ballots from yesterday's and today's rounds of voting will be placed in the rooms of first-year proctors.

And Epps said that since the ballots from each day's voting will be counted separately, the council could "compare to see if there's a radically different trend." If tampering seems possible, the dean said he might consult statisticians.

The council will also be able to check forballot stuffing by comparing the number ofcompleted ballots to the number of students whowere recorded as having voted in the houses.

But Epps said that even if there arediscrepancies in the numbers, he would recommendto invalidate only the first day of voting.

"We should try to do what we can to save thisreferendum," said Epps, adding that proceduralimprovements have allowed this second referendumto run more smoothly.

Gabay, who led the movement to invalidate thefirst referendum, acknowledged that the council'sfailure to secure the ballot box was wrong.

"I don't think it was the most intelligentthing to do," Gabay said.

But he added that "unless there's some sort ofpattern where the U.C.'s doing well on the firstday and no on the last two, I don't see it beinginvalidated."

Melissa Garza '94, one of the first councilmembers to call for invalidation of the firstreferendum, said yesterday she didn't think thesecond one would be invalidated.

"I would hope that the numbers match up, so Iwouldn't call for anything until we checked theballots [from the first day]," Garza said.

But Garza questioned Liston's reasons for notplacing the completed ballots in Epps' office onMonday evening. She noted that Liston promised atSunday's council meeting to deposit all the voteswith Epps.

Liston said yesterday that he was busy tablingMonday and did not have time to call Epps.

But for a while, it seemed likely that thecouncil wouldn't move the ballots at all.

Davis placed a phone call to Liston from thecouncil office at 12:55 a.m. yesterday. As aCrimson reporter looked on, she pleaded with himfor 30 minutes to move the completed ballots fromthe council's office. Davis said she wasultimately rebuffed.

Davis said a proctor in Canaday Hall had agreedto keep the ballots, but that Liston would notmove them.

"[Liston] said that if someone wants to stuffthe ballots, they'll find a way," Davis said.

Liston said yesterday that he did not move thebox because he wanted to give delegates a place todeposit yesterday's ballots.

Liston also protested the late hour of Davis'call.

Garza, however, said there was "absolutely noexcuse" for Liston's delay, "especially if someonecalls it to his attention."

She noted that Liston's failure to have actedimmediately "could be really problematic."

As vice president, Liston is the officialadministrator of all referenda.

The latest referendum includes questions on thecouncil fee hike; students' option to check a boxon term bills and thereby waive the council fee;distribution of unspent funds to the housecommittees; popular election of executives; andsemiannual general elections