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BREAKING NEWS: Validity of Voting Process Questioned in UC Presidential Election

UC Presidential Candidate George J. J. Hayward '11 speaks to campaign supporters in Currier House after learning that none of the tickets will be declared the winner by the UC Election Commission.
UC Presidential Candidate George J. J. Hayward '11 speaks to campaign supporters in Currier House after learning that none of the tickets will be declared the winner by the UC Election Commission.
By Melody Y. Hu, Crimson Staff Writer


In an unprecedented reversal following allegations of fraud and vote-tampering, the Undergraduate Council Election Commission decided to “de-certify” the results of the presidential election released today, pending further notice.

Election Commission Chair Brad A. Seiler ’10 announced his resignation concurrently with the release of the vote totals in the election, in an e-mail sent to the Undergraduate Council general e-mail list at 10:51 p.m. tonight.

An e-mail sent 45 minutes later to the same list from the official presidential e-mail address of the Harvard Undergraduate Council——stated that there had been "an underlying concern about the validity of the voting process" throughout the election proceedings this year.The e-mail, signed by UC Vice President Kia McLeod '10, stated that UC Vice presidential candidate Eric N. Hysen '11 may have had access to the software that tracks the results of UC elections after receiving the necessary passwords from former UC Vice President Randall S. Sarafa '09 upon Sarafa's graduation.

The e-mail added that upon receiving the concern Seiler had originally reassured Election Commission members that they would all receive access to voting results to prevent any sort of tampering from going unnoticed, but that he failed to deliver on the assurance. It also stated that Hysen, prior to the election, had handled applications to the Election Commission, including that of Seiler.

According to the author of the e-mail, two election commissioners refused to certify the results after they came in because they "had reason to doubt their validity." The vote to decertify the election results came at 10:15 p.m, according to the earlier e-mail from Seiler.

E-mailed resignations followed from Election Commission members Daniel P. Robinson '10 and Emily E. Osborne '12 followed at 11:03 p.m and 11:09 p.m., between the Seiler e-mail and the e-mail allegedly from McLeod.

In a strange twist, McLeod e-mailed the UC general account from her personal e-mail address at 12:27 p.m., denying her responsibility for the earlier e-mail from the presidential address.

"I would like it to be known that I did not draft this email," McLeod wrote. "There have been complications with the EC and the presidential elections. These complications are being worked on and will be resolved. I know all of the candidates personally and would like to congratulate them on this extremely hard-fought campaign."

"Each candidate is honest and well deserving of the presidential or vice-presidential position," she wrote. "Eric Hysen is one of the hardest working members of the Undergraduate Council and I respect him greatly."

In the initial, reported tally, Johnny F. Bowman ’11 and Eric N. Hysen ’11 edged out George J.J. Hayward ’11 and Felix M. Zhang ’11 in the elections by only 45 votes.

At this time, it is still unclear when the official results will be announced by the Election Commission.

The votes were tabulated earlier this afternoon by the seven-member UC Election Commission after voting closed at noon, Seiler said.

After the first vote tally, Bowman and Hysen trailed Hayward and Zhang by 31 votes, Seiler said. The outsider ticket of Robert G.B. Long ’11 and David R. Johnson ‘11 finished third.

But under UC rules, first-place votes for Long and Johnson were then transferred to the second-listed candidate on each ballot.

Bowman and Hysen surged ahead after this recount, ending up with 1,826 votes to Hayward and Zhang’s 1,781, Seiler said.

Bowman and Hysen’s campaign focused on pressing the administration to make budget cuts more transparent and finding immediate, low-cost ways to improve student life at Harvard, such as putting many student services online.


An earlier version of the Nov. 20 news article "BREAKING NEWS: Vote-Rigging Alleged in UC Presidential Election" gave an incorrect middle initial for the UC Election Commission Chair. His name is Brad A. Seiler ’10, not Brad T. Seiler ’10.

The version also gave an incorrect number for the initial reported vote margin between the two major tickets. In the initial, reported tally, Bowman-Hysen had a 45-vote lead over Hayward-Zhang—not a 46-vote lead.

The version also had an inaccurate title: "BREAKING NEWS: Vote-Rigging Alleged in UC Presidential Election." There were no allegations of vote-rigging, but rather concerns about the validity of the voting process. The title has been changed to reflect the inaccuracy.

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