John A. Ausick ’13 never intended to run for a position on the Undergraduate Council, but he could just be Currier House’s next UC representative.
But Ausick said that someone impersonated him, using a fake email address, to declare his candidacy two weeks ago and send a candidacy statement to the UC Election Commission for Currier House’s special election.
Then, when Ausick’s name was accidentally left off the ballot when the online poll went live last Wednesday, the user of the email account pointed out the mistake, which forced a re-vote in Currier. Voting had opened at noon that day and was cut off at 9:30 p.m. Ballots cast during that period were thrown out. The Election Commission relaunched the online poll at midnight.
Only after this second election was underway did the UC hear from Ausick that he never intended to run for the position.
The Election Commission received a statement of candidacy two weeks ago from an account called email@example.com, which UC Election Commission Chair Nicholas S. S. Pomata ’13 assumed was Ausick’s personal email address.
“I realize now that while most of my emails to the representatives were sent to Jack’s College email, all my one-on-one email exchanges were with firstname.lastname@example.org,” Pomata said.
Ausick said he remembered receiving a series of emails to his College account about the election, but he assumed they were generic messages sent over the Currier mailing list.
But last Wednesday, Ausick received an email from Pomata, apologizing for failing to include him on the online ballot.
“I realized that I seemed to be a target of a very bizarre prank,” Ausick said. “I’m pretty sure I didn’t do anything to incite this. As far as I can tell, I was just randomly chosen for a prank.”
Discussing the decision to re-start the Currier election, Pomata said, “It seemed, at the time, the best thing to do to make the election fair.”
He added, “But I didn’t know at the time that it was a joke.”
Ausick said that he initially decided not to inform the Election Commission that he had been enlisted by an impostor because he did not want to slow down the election process even more.
“I didn’t want to mess things up again, so I figured it would be better if I just waited it out,” he said. “I haven’t been actively campaigning anyway, and I think there’s very little chance that I am going to win.”
Five other candidates on the ballot plus write-in hopefuls are campaigning for the two open spots.
UC President Danny P. Bicknell ’13 said that the UC hopes to avoid such a situation in the future by accepting candidate declarations only from College email accounts, in accordance with current UC rules.
“Mistakes happen,” Bicknell said. “In the future, I’ll make sure that the Election Commission only accepts declarations from Harvard emails.”
Voting closes Tuesday at noon. Ausick’s name will remain on the ballot, according to Bicknell and Pomata.
—Staff writer Michelle Denise L. Ferreol can be reached at email@example.com.