Student court denies request for recount

Candidates running for next year’s Associated Students, Inc. election on March 26 called for an official recount of the votes, citing potential error.

A petition for a recount was circulated following the announcements from the university’s election committee. Nine students, including president-elect Pedro Ramirez and vice-president Cesar Sanchez, signed the petition.

Hector Cerda, who ran for senator-at-large during last month’s elections, stated that the third-party voting system could be vulnerable to manipulation.

“This is about checking the integrity of the system,” Cerda said. “A satisfactory recount would be to redo the exact same thing that happened only, request that the printouts come directly from the company themselves. And that there be some type of way that students can look at a printout.”

On Tuesday afternoon, a meeting of the ASI student court was held to determine if a recount would in fact take place. The student court voted unanimously not to permit a recount.

“If there were a recount,” Cerda said, “then the recount should match the exact results that were announced the Friday before spring break.”

Cerda said the extra effort to show transparency will go to restoring the students’ faith in the student government. He said it is even admitted by the current administration that students don’t trust ASI.

The student court pointed out that the count was monitored by the VoteNet, as well as by the League of Women Voters and that an incorrect tally was unlikely. The votes were tabulated by Votenet and later recounted by the Fresno Chapter of the League of Women Voters.

During the election period, there were nine different ballots and students were only allowed to vote for the senator of their college. All nine sheets are printed off with the tabulations from the students of every college, said Julianne Phillips, student court chief justice.

“The League of Women Voters added [the votes] and the results were sealed because, they were not to be released until 9 a.m. the next day,” Phillips said. “So, it’s a pretty accurate system.”

Still, online voting, a concept still in its infancy, has its flaws.

In September of 2008, researchers at the University of California Santa Barbara demonstrated the vulnerabilities of electronic voting systems and how easily results could be tampered with.

The researchers were able to hack into a voting system being prepared for use in nearly 3 seconds with the use of a thumb drive.

Stating that e-voting is “fatally flawed,” the researches concluded that it would be highly unlikely that the manipulation would ever be detected by either the public or election officials. A viral hack, they said, would not be discovered by pre-election “Logic and Accuracy” testing even in the event of a complete post-election audit of votes.

Vice president-elect Cesar Sanchez said the concern lies in the process and not with the system itself.

“The more steps we make students go through, that opens the door for more error,” Sanchez said. “I’d say that we signed this petition for a recount just for the sake of good practice.”

The results of the election will be certified on April 16, and elected senate members and the top executives will be sworn in June 1.

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