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Council Voters Wisely Split Tickets

By The CRIMSON Staff

In last week's Undergraduate Council elections, Harvard students proved their commitment to understanding each candidates's positions and potential rather than blindly voting for president/vice president tickets, the unofficial campaign pairs that dominated the field. Despite newly-elected council President Lamelle D. Rawlins '99 joining her efforts with Michael A. O'Mary '99 and Vice President-elect Mark A. Price '98 running with Elizabeth A. Haynes '98, the student body chose Rawlins and Price to be their leaders. In a process that has so short a history as general elections for council leadership, this result speaks volumes.

The election of Rawlins demonstrated that the voters appreciated her numerous accomplishments; by passing over O'Mary for the more experienced Price, they also showed they would not vote on coattails alone. Electing a split ticket attests to their desire for openness on the council, rather than the agendas many pairs promised to push through. The voters exercised commendable effort in comparing personalities and visions and not simply deciding on the basis of which names were juxtaposed on the campaign posters.

Students chose Rawlins and Price despite the poorer finishes for their "running-mates," because the voters heard the candidates debate, read the interviews and chose for themselves which pair of personalities and visions would best lead the council. The tickets billed gender, racial and house diversity, but this concern was addressed in the results without electing a ticket--Adams resident Rawlins and Pforzheimer denizen Price provide the same representative diversity as well as different agendas.

The election commission, despite a few shortfalls, also deserves credit for a successful election. The commission explicitly and repeatedly stated that candidates ran individually and that no tickets were recognized in the voting. By making the issue of publicizing the unofficial nature of the tickets a prime concern, the commission opened the election as an arena where every individual had to prove him or herself, not just in tandem with another candidate. The dogged insistence of the commission convinced voters not to vote straight tickets and thereby set an excellent example for how future council elections can be about issues rather than alliances.

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