Strong questions validity of elections
“Last night I met with the 2018 Elections Commission to discuss the reported issues. Given the lack of integrity in the election process, the Commission is now determining whether any of the election results should be invalidated,” wrote Interim Vice President for Student Life LeNorman Strong in an email to the Rensselaer community.
The email detailed the importance of integrity, especially as it applies to the errors made during Grand Marshal Week 2018 elections. These included the voting system’s temporary shutdown to fix errors on the ballot and that the voting system was shown to be “compromised” by forensic data.
According to Strong, “the voting system was then reopened and accessed by multiple students at multiple times during the day while voting was underway” and that some of these students were “connected to candidates standing for election.”
In the meeting with the Elections Commission that was referenced in the email, Strong further stated that one of the students that accessed the system was a Union systems administrator that was also a registered assistant for a campaign. He also stated that a candidate was present when the system was accessed.
David Raab ’19 is the lead Union systems administrator and was a candidate assistant for both Grand Marshal Stef Warner ’18 and President of the Union Justin Etzine ’18, and Rasika Ekhalikar ’18 is a Union systems administrator and was a candidate assistant for Ida Etemadi ’19 before she recused herself from Etemadi’s campaign on general election day.
In an email to Caraway on the day of the election at 6:07 pm, Raab asked Caraway to “not ask [him] any further questions or ask [him] to do any work with regard to the Rensselaer Union Voting Suite going forward.” He added, “at no point, would any of this work have had any effect whatsoever on how votes are tabulated and stored.” Raab then outlined all of his previous changes to the voting system, which involved adding the new Union logo, changing the ID of the primary election, loading the official list of eligible students into the system as provided by Associate Director of Union Operations Joe Campo, and answering questions related to its operations to Etzine, Vice Chairperson of the J-Board Harrison Leinweber, and The Polytechnic.
“I would like to clarify that Rasika has had no role in the preparation of the voting suite and never had access to sign into it at any point during the race,” Raab also wrote in the email.
The candidate who was present when the system was accessed was Etzine. On April 5, when the polls were opening, it was discovered that the proposed amendments to the Union Constitution were not included.
In an email to The Poly, Etzine wrote, “[Elections Commission Chairperson] Caleb [Caraway ’19] was unable to resolve the issues himself, and I was asked to assist. He made it known that that all other possible individuals were unable to help because of work, class, or other commitments, and that the election would likely not occur if I did not help. Therefore, I reluctantly agreed to do so.
“My assistance consisted of the following: [Caraway] asked that I guide him in adding the proposed amendments and troubleshoot an unknown error preventing the submission of ballots. This interaction occurred under the supervision of the vice chairman of the Judicial Board,” he added.