By Maurice Cacho and Jamie McLeod
The Ryerson Board of Governors’ online elections screeched to a halt Monday morning due to a computer glitch, causing disappointment for campaigning candidates.
“I’ve been up since nine in the business building and it really sucks that none of these (votes) are going to count,” said Mohammed Halawani, a student candidate running in the election on the Ryevolution slate.
None of the 113 votes cast on Monday are considered legitimate and those voters will have to re-cast their votes later this week.
The online ballot did not include some candidates names.
Voting has been extended until Friday to allow time for lost votes to be made up.
“It was a disadvantage to me because I feel like I had a head start,” Halawani said.
Ryevolution is the only slate in the Board of Governors elections and have been heavily campaigning for weeks. The slate is led by incoming RSU VP student life and events Abe Snobar, but says it is unaffiliated with the Students’ Union to which he was just elected.
Snobar promises his slate has “healthy” differences compared to previous RSU-run slates. Along with candidates Samih Abdelgadir and Mohammed Halawani, the trio hope to bring new issues to the Board of Governors.
“It’s been the same issues over and over,” Snobar said. “We’re not one of these people that assume what students want changed,” Abdelgadir said.
He said he believes previous representatives may have, at times, done this in the past.
In addition to fighting for lower tuition fees and additional study space, the group said they’ll work to improve cafeteria hours, food quality and prices. They also want to address issues at the Ryerson Athletics Centre, including hours, equipment and “staff relations.”
Snobar said he would propose to the board a referendum to increase athletics fees. The referendum would only be attempted if students said it was an issue, Snobar said.
The last time that happened, in 2004, former RSU vice-president finance and services spearhead a vote ‘no’ campaign.
“If you show them (students) that if they pay more and they’re going to benefit from it, it’s something they should consider,” he said.
Ryevolution is also going to try and limit the influence of the CFS at Ryerson, Snobar said. But they can’t push for these things if un-elected, and they worry the election setback has worked against them.
Halawani said he is concerned that the glitch could depress an already low voter turnout. Julia Hanigsberg, secretary of the Board of Governors, is not concerned about the loss of votes.
“I’m very confident that the students who voted will vote again,” Hanigsberg said. “We don’t want to lose those votes.”
But Halawani isn’t so sure. “Everyone is really busy this week,” he said. “It’s hard enough to get students to vote.”
Board of Governors elections have been held online for several years and have yet to experience technical difficulties, Julia Hanigsberg said.
“I’m very confident that the problem has been found and fixed,” Hanigsberg said.
Head of computing and communications services (CCS) Renee Lemieux, said the problem was due to a minor difference in the way computers were identifying candidates.
In previous years, candidates were given a two-letter identity in the computer program based on their initials.
Forseeing the possibility that two candidates with the same initials might run, it was decided this year that the identities of candidates would be based on numbers (C1, C2, C3, etc.) in the computer program that runs the elections, instead.
However it was only able to read the first two characters, so C10, C11, etc. did not appear on the ballot.
The 113 voters were notified via e-mail that their votes wouldn’t count.