BSA To Hold New Elections

Members will vote again for new BSA president, officers

Less than two weeks after the Harvard Black Students Association (BSA) election results sparked controversy, the group’s election commission has decided to scrap the previous results and hold a new election on Monday, May 10.

Following an election held last month, BSA held a runoff vote for two presidential candidates—Zachary D. Raynor ’05 and Lawrence E. Adjah Jr. ’06—because they reportedly received 63 votes each, after the removal of a “questionable” ballot in favor of Raynor.

But several days after the runoff, which Adjah won, Christopher J. Lee ’06 sent an e-mail to the Black Men’s Forum (BMF) list alleging that the BSA improperly handled the ballot count in the initial election.

Lee wrote that the original vote count for the presidential election was not 63-63, but 64-63 in favor of Raynor and he criticized the removal of the “questionable” ballot.

Though members of the election commission acknowledged the removal of the ballot in favor of Raynor, they maintained that it was removed for legitimate reasons.

When these allegations concerning improper ballot handling originally surfaced, there were no plans to hold another election.

But BSA members announced Tuesday that they have decided to create a subcommittee on constitutional changes and to hold a third presidential election—and second election for all other positions—to quell the controversy surrounding the original round of presidential elections.

According to an unsigned e-mail sent to the BMF-list announcing the new plans, the recent elections brought to light how “aspects of the Constitution fail to explicitly address even basic electoral procedures—namely, verification of eligible voters, the composure and function of the Election Commission, and the process by which votes are deemed valid and subsequently tabulated.”

“The issue of having another election and a functional Constitution is necessary in order to have a leadership and an organization respected both within the Black community and also the greater Harvard community,” the e-mail said.

The e-mail cited a “lengthy consultation” with BSA Faculty adviser Kimberly M. DaCosta, an assistant professor of African and African American Studies and of Social Studies, as a factor in deciding to hold elections again. DaCosta, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, will be in charge of the election commission for this round of voting, according to the e-mail.

BSA member Peter G. Asante ’07 said he was surprised by the decision to hold another election, especially because so much time has passed since the initial election.

“I never expected that we would need to go back and have a re-election. I’m torn,” Asante said.

“Even if they do it again, it’s not like people will forget what happened. In terms of the perception of the outgoing board, I think it will be hard to change. I feel bad that the incoming board is going to have to come in after such an incident.”

Other BSA members said yesterday that they felt the decision to hold another election is the best option, given the difficult circumstances.

“I agree with the way things have gone. Nothing is ever going to be perfect. In as much as they can, they have at least tried to protect the integrity of the organization and the people involved, and I hope that they will continue to do that,” said BSA member Dominique C. Deleon ’04.

Raynor, who will run against Adjah for a third time, commended the commission’s ability to acknowledge its mistakes and fix them.