News

Harvard Law School Makes Online Zero-L Course Free for All U.S. Law Schools Due to Coronavirus

News

For Kennedy School Fellows, Epstein-Linked Donors Present a Moral Dilemma

News

Tenants Grapple with High Rents and Local Turnover at Asana-Owned Properties

News

In April, Theft Surged as Cambridge Residents Stayed at Home

News

The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

Open Letter to '50

THE MAIL

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

To the Editors of the CRIMSON:

This letter is addressed to the Class of 1950 because it concerns it. In know a CRIMSON editorial has dealt with the subject, but the subject deserves a little more than the cursory glance so far given it. In the course of our recent Permanent Class Committee election certain irregularities appeared that merited interest. Now I want to ask a few questions about them.

The Paul Report of December 1947 (the Report of the Special Student Council Committee on Class Affairs) and its two amendments explaining the election rules constitute the adopted procedure for College elections. Why was this procedure so grossly neglected in so many details?

I want to know why the simple, mechanical process of running an election was termed "chaos" by a ballot counters and did indeed seem to be chaos.

I want to know why adequate safeguards to the Class of 1950 against election fraud, the inherent right of any electorate, were so conveniently forgotten.

I said the election procedure was neglected; let me list a few illustrative details, comparing twelve points of the Paul Report with that procedure actually used:

1.) The Student Council Member in Charge of Class Affairs (the man ultimately responsible for the running of class elections) must be a senior.

William S. Tyson '49, Student Council Member in Charge of Class Affairs, was officially a member of the Junior Class. The appointment of Donald L. Bornstein '50, a senior, to the Student Council of November 7, 1949 neither makes Tyson's appointment in order, nor justifies his retaining the position.

2.) The chairman of the election committee, the man directly responsible for the running of the Permanent Class Committee election, must be a member of the Junior Class and a member of the Student Council.

F. Martin Bowne '51, chairman of the Permanent Class Committee election committee, was not and is not a member of the Student Council.

3.) The nominating committee member from each House must be chosen by the respective House Committees.

The members of the nominating committee were chosen by agencies other than House Committees in at least four Houses.

4.) The nomination committee must meet before November 15.

The nomination committee met on December 1.

5.) The nomination committee must nominate not less than 24 men and not more than 32 men including themselves (automatically nominated).

The nominating committee nominated 33 persons including themselves.

6.) The election must be held in the first week of December.

The election was held on December 14.

7.) The ballots must include addresses, pictures, and a list of College activities of the candidates.

Candidates' pictures were not included with the ballots. The matter of the pictures on or with the ballots came under the consideration of the Student Council last fall, but there is no officially recorded change from the Paul Report on this matter.

8.) All ballots must be numbered.

Ballots were not numbered.

9.) Balloting and tabulation must be conducted by two members from each House who are not members of the class.

Among those conducting the balloting in the Houses were 14 Seniors.

10.) Each voter must sign a list at the ballot box when he deposits his ballot.

There were no signature lists made by ballot depositors.

11.) The preferential system to select the Marshals as distinguished from Committee members must be included in the ballot.

The preferential system to select Marshals was not Included.

12.) Each voter must check at least four candidates.

Any ballot with less than 13 names checked was considered valid.

Let's consider the opinions of two people who were at the election as to its procedure. The first termed it "chaos"; the second stated that "candidates were running around like ants" towards the end of the tabulation. A third person, who was not actually present, considered a recount justifiable because of conditions reported to him by sources different from the above two. In view of the above items I can conclude only that the mechanical process of tabulation was far from the orderliness that ballot couning merits.

I said that adequate safeguards against election fraud were not given to the 1950 electorate. Perhaps I am not a judge of "adequate safeguards," yet I feel that the questions asked below would also be asked by the Class of 1950 if it knew the facts I have uncovered.

Questions a 'Bungled Election'

Agreed some of the above diversions from the Paul Report individually are of little consequence, but taken together they illustrate what seems to be a completely bungled election. Moreover, compliance with the adopted procedure on some of the points, such as the last two, might easily have changed the whole outcome. In repeat and amplify my question. Why weren't the appointments of the Student Council Member in Charge of Class Affairs and the chairman of the 1950 Permanent Class Committee election committee made according to the prescribed forms? And why did the election committee, headed by those men who were appointed, fail to proceed under the adopted instructions?

I want to know why Edward F. Burke '50, David H. Hall '50, and Frederic D. Houghteling '50, all candidates, were in Phillips Brooks House (where the ballots were counted) during most of the tabulation.

I want to know why Burke, a candidate, during tabulation questioned ballot counters about his progress and "bothered" them in their work.

I want to know why Hall, a candidate, was "supervising the tabulation."

I want to know why Houghteling, a candidate, took active part in the tabulation of ballots.

I want to know why there were so many seniors counting ballots and why there were other candidates present during some part of the tabulation.

I want to know why the offer for an impartial recount by editors and news board candidates of the CRIMSON was turned down by Burke, as Student Council Chairman, and not accepted when a recount was later requested by a defeated candidate.

Candidates Recounted

I want to know why Burke, Brynteson, John T. Carnahan, Hall, and Houghteling, all candidates, helped make the recounts, when such an item seems to fall under the duties of only the original ballot counters or another impartial group.

I want to know why, even with candidates making the recounts, all "close" candidates, those separated from elections by a narrow margin, were not included in this select group. Among those not included was Albert B. Carter, the candidate who lost his position on the Permanent Class, Committee as a result of the recounts.

I want to know why the first recount, which resulted in the omission of Brynteson from the Permanent Class Committee was not considered sufficient and why Burke insisted that another be taken.

I want to know why the group of candidates and representatives of candidates (also a few others) considered that the second recount which resulted in the omission of Carter from the Permanent Class Committee was sufficient.

I want to know why precautions against ballot counters and recounters from personally invalidating ballots by adding a thirteenth mark to the twelve already on the ballot--a really very simple matter--were not taken.

I want to know why, with so many countings and recountings, the invalid ballots were not discovered until so late.

And lastly I want to know why we members of the Class of 1950 have to submit to an election so slovenly run that it presented magnificent openings for dishonest manipulation. Why do we not have the right to a fairly and effectively run election?

May I say in closing that I have no fault to find with the many honorable men who constitute the majority of the 1950 Permanent Class Committee. My foremost complaint is against rather the shameful manner in which the Committee was elected. (Name withheld by request.)

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.

Tags