Post-results, graduate students denounce election mishaps

Some candidates say certain professional students weren’t sent the correct election ballot.

by Benjamin Farniok

Though student government races have wrapped, candidates are speaking out about issues with this year’s election process.
Last week, professional students cast their ballots for student government leaders. The Professional Student Government election faced problems with event attendance and voting, forcing the University’s election commission to restart the voting process.
Max Hall and his running mate, Dane Thompson, won PSG’s presidential race with about 60 percent of the vote, while Michael Blomquist and Sumee Lee secured more than 35 percent.
Meanwhile, Nicholas Goldsmith ran unopposed and won the Council of Graduate Students presidential race at more than 90 percent.
Hall, a second-year law and business student, and Thompson, a fourth-year medical and business student, both said this year’s election faced some issues.
Blomquist, who ran against Hall, said he was concerned some professional students weren’t sent the correct ballot. 
He said he was notified of voting issues by other students before he found himself unable to vote. When he reached out to the ACEC, he said they were slow to respond.
Blomquist said those from some schools, such as the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, missed the first vote.
“I would rather have a fair election at lower turnout,” he said.
Hall said he and Thompson received reports of problems from students in other schools, including ones they consider their main constituent base.
He said low attendance, combined with bad press and technical issues, has hurt PSG and shifted student perceptions.
ACEC Adviser Syressa Lewis said commission members noticed the voting issue Wednesday and spent most of the day fixing the problem. 
“We realized that a lot of voters had been disenfranchised that entire day, so we wanted to make sure we restarted the election,” Lewis said.
Of the nearly 3,789 professional students on campus, 691 cast a ballot for PSG’s election. More than 12,000 graduate students are enrolled on the Twin Cities campus, and of these, 337 voted in the COGS election. 
The University sent ACEC a list, sorted into professional and graduate students, for voting. But a misreading of the University’s list meant some students received the wrong ballots. 
Blomquist said the problem was symptomatic of this year’s election’s lack of organization.
Both Hall and Blomquist said they didn’t know if their running mates would join them on stage for debates, which made them less prepared.
“I didn’t actually know I was going to be on stage until we walked into the theater and saw four chairs on the stage,” Thompson said.
Lewis said miscommunication led to the confusion, but some information was withheld to increase candidates’ authenticity.
Less than 15 people attended both PSG and COGS’ debates. Lewis said issues with attendance were partially because this is the first time the group ever dealt with three debates at once.
In the future, Lewis said the ACEC will start the debate process earlier.