Computer Problem Hampers Council Vote

A glitch in the Undergraduate Council computer program temporarily prevented transfer students and some other undergraduates from voting in the council's elections this week.

When transfer student Sara M. Jablon '00 tried to vote, she said she received a message saying "unable to proceed: you are not in the voter database."

Luke Z. Fenchel '99, a Crimson executive who is not a transfer student, said he was also unable to vote using the council's computer program.

Election Commission Co-Chair Lanhee J. Chen '99 said the Election Commission received 24 complaints regarding this problem.

"My guess is that the registrar data that the U.C. got in September was incomplete," Robert J. Klein '99, who helped design the voting program, said.


However, Klein said he had "no idea" why Harvard undergraduates who were not transfer students would not be in the council's database.

To fix this problem, the Election Commission created alternate methods of voting.

Chen said students were allowed to either submit a special e-mail ballot made available to those omitted from the database or to vote in person last night at the council office in the basement of Holworthy Hall. The problem made voting a hassle for some students.

"At first it was sort of frustrating because I thought it was a good idea to vote but it wasn't so important to me that I wanted to have to make a big effort to do [it]," Jablon said.

However, Jablon eventually cast her vote via e-mail ballot.

Chen said the voting mix-up did not make a big difference in the council's election process.

"It hasn't been that big of a problem," Chen said. "[The number of people affected by the mix-up is] not significant, given a turnout of what we're expecting to be a little over 1,500."

Fellow Election Commission Co-Chair Sujit M. Raman '99 said, "The polls will close at midnight [as expected]."

The Election Commission said it has also been careful to make sure that alternate methods of voting did not create more security problems.

"To protect against fraud, we're checking their ID numbers and birth dates to make sure that they haven't already voted," Chen said

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