GSB election results held until Thursday [with video]

James Heggen and Ross Boettcher

The polls are closed, but there is no declared winner.

The Government of the Student Body held its annual elections Monday and Tuesday, but the results won’t be released until 9:45 p.m. Thursday – almost 48 hours after the online polls closed.

GSB bylaws require the election commission to withhold the results of any election for at least 24 hours after the polls close. The bylaw is in place to allow any “election contestations.”

GSB election commissioner Alden Peterson, junior in mechanical engineering, said two main issues contribute to the final results after the online polls close.

Both issues hinge on challenge ballots, which are filed by individuals who want to question the election process or unveil a rule infraction by a candidate. Each of these ballots is processed individually, creating the first issue.

The second issue is the potential disenfranchisement of voters who don’t have up-to-date AccessPlus accounts. Peterson said students who don’t have their residency information up to date on their AccessPlus accounts are forced to place challenge ballots just to have their votes count.

“Part of the reason we are releasing the results on Thursday is because every person has what’s called a challenge ballot,” Peterson said. “As a result, we get substantial amounts of people saying, ‘Hey, I’m listed as off-campus and I’m a resident of Campustown.’ We have to make sure we go through those and process them correctly, simply because the results do not get counted unless we go through and verify it.”

Peterson said that, “theoretically,” the final results of the GSB presidential election would be available Thursday at 12:01 a.m., but that will not be the case because 9:45 p.m. Thursday is the “most convenient time” to break the news to the candidates.

GSB President Brian Phillips, senior in political science, said the results are instantaneous, however, the election commissioner is the only one allowed to get the results.

“I think, in theory, we could probably get … live updates if we wanted,” he said. “But that’s not something we’re interested in doing.”

The reason the announcement is being held an extra day is because Wednesday conflicts with GSB Cabinet and Senate meetings, Phillips said.

Phillips said the goal of the election code revision a few years ago was consistency. The current system came out of that thinking.

Ryan Crampton, presidential candidate and junior in political science, said he thinks withholding the results is “ridiculous.”

“I feel that if the president of the United States can know, even before the election is over pretty much, if he’s won or not, how come the student body president can’t?” he said.

With the election being held online and the instantaneous knowledge of the results, Crampton doesn’t see why they are held.

“I’d even give them a half-an-hour to get their stuff together and let us know who won, and if somebody wants to challenge the ballot, they can still do that,” he said.

At the University of Iowa, the results of the elections for student body president were announced just a half-hour after the chairman of the university’s student elections board, Addison Ben-Hartog, received the final results.

“Basically, I just got all of the results at 4:30 p.m., and at 5 p.m., I just announced all of the winners,” Ben-Hartog said.

Those in attendance for Ben-Hartog’s official address were “mainly just people from the parties that ran . and a couple of reporters.” After that, “people found out through various ways, like the paper,” he said.

Daniel Fischer, presidential candidate and senior in agricultural business, said he didn’t know the exact reasons for the rule but that he doesn’t have a problem with the rule.

“I guess the Thursday night before [spring break] is one of the best times to reveal it,” he said.

Fischer said it may be a problem for those who leave early for break, but the people who “really care about the election” will find a way to find out.

“I guess people will find out eventually either way,” he said. “It’d be nice if it maybe were a night earlier, but I think the system’s fine.”

Phillips didn’t see a problem with waiting until Friday for the results to be published, even though some students start their spring breaks early. He said there is plenty of opportunity to find out the results.

“By and large, the majority of campus is still around on Friday morning,” he said.

Crampton’s running mate Jeff Edwards will not be at the ceremony Thursday because, like many other students, he will be leaving early for Spring Break.

“A lot of people won’t even know how it turned out,” he said.

Crampton’s proposed reform would eliminate the 24-hour rule. He would inform the candidates of election results the same night they were held and then make them available to the public. The next 48 hours would be left for challenges and dealing with illegal campaigning complaints.