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Chaos Engulfs UC Election; Results Remain Unclear

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 and Eric P. Newcomer, Crimson Staff Writers

Against all expectations and amid whispers of scandal, the Undergraduate Council’s Election Commission did not name a winner in the UC presidential elections Thursday night.

Neither John F. Bowman ’11 nor George J.J. Hayward ’11, waiting at victory parties in the Quad, saw the Election Commission arrive to congratulate them.

Instead, the proceedings devolved into a late-night drama in which the Election Commission decertified voting results that indicated a Bowman victory, three EC officials resigned, and an unidentified person sent a controversial e-mail from the UC president’s e-mail account.

The student body, meanwhile, remained in the dark about who will lead its chief governing body for the next two semesters.

Numbers released by former Election Commission Chair Brad A. Seiler ’10 yesterday evening suggested that Hayward and running mate Felix M. Zhang ’11 had lost the election by just 45 votes—the smallest margin of victory in a Council election in recent memory.

Voting for all UC elections operates under the Hare-Clark single transferable vote system in which voters rank their candidates by preference. Votes are then tallied in successive rounds until one ticket receives a majority.

In an initial tally of first-place votes, Hayward and Zhang recorded 1,594 votes—31 more first-choice selections than Bowman and Hysen—but none of the tickets garnered the required majority. At that point, Long-Johnson came up short, and the ticket’s 635 first-place votes were excluded from consideration. Their supporters’ second choices were then added to the vote counts of the other tickets.

After the redistribution, the Bowman-Hysen campaign received an additional 263 votes for a total of 1,826 votes, giving them an edge—and the majority—over Hayward-Zhang, which received 187, for a total of 1,781.

The Election Commission traditionally announces the official results of the election in a ceremony at the winning candidate’s end-of-campaign party. But last night the Commission never left the Yard, announcing shortly after 10 p.m. that they were convening for a last-minute meeting.

Some EC members had expressed concerns about the voting process in the hours after the tabulation, according to EC member and UC representative Phillip Morris ’12, who added that there were “loopholes” in the electronic voting system that could have allowed an outside party to access—and possibly tamper with—the results of the election.

The EC voted 4-3 in its meeting to decertify the previously released results of the election, spurring Seiler to resign in protest.

“I believe the current proceedings of the EC are frivolous, unwarranted, and not grounded in reality,” Seiler told The Crimson yesterday, “and therefore I have no interest in continuing to be a part of them.”

Two other EC members, Emily E. Osborne ’12 and Daniel P. Robinson ’10—who is also a member of the Crimson editorial board—announced their resignation shortly afterwards.

Although there is still a quorum of EC members remaining, Morris said that the EC does not plan to take any further action.

According to the bylaws of the EC, if no decision is made 120 hours after the close of the elections, responsibility for certifying the results of the election goes to the Executive Board of the UC.

Outgoing UC President Andrea R. Flores ’10 said yesterday that the UC will instead suspend its bylaws and put the vote to certify the election results to the entire council at the next UC General meeting. In an e-mail to the student body at 2:37 a.m. this morning, she appealed to students to respect the results of the election.

“Students have voted, and...have selected the next UC President and Vice-President,” she wrote.

Flores sought last night to distinguish the events surrounding the election from the operations of the Council more generally.

“I’m incredibly disappointed in our Election Commission and in its inability to stay free of campus politics,” she said. “This should not reflect the work of the UC. This reflects only our election process, and it is something that must immediately be reformed.”

—Staff writer Melody Y. Hu can be contacted at melodyhu@fas.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Eric P. Newcomer can be contacted at newcomer@fas.harvard.edu.

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