CSA Debates Online Voting, Facebook

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Written by May Warren

The members of the Central Student’s Association Board met on Wednesday February 14th to discuss new developments in the online voting project. At a past meeting the board voted to approve a motion that initiated a process of online voting in time for this March’s student elections.

However, at Wednesday's meeting, Communication Commissioner Jonathan Odumeru brought up new information which he felt might change the board’s mind and possibly reverse their decision. “We have found out that we can’t give out student’s passwords,” he said. Instead, students will log into their webmail and then follow the link to a voting window, which will require their student number but not their password.

“The concern is that this would allow proxy voting, which is one of the problems York University had when they tried out online voting,” he continued. Proxy voting is when students give up their votes to others. Although theoretically this could happen Odumeru says he doesn’t feel the security of the system is jeopardized and insists that the board needs to trust students.

Bre Walt, Local Affairs Commissioner, who opposed the original idea of online voting, raised some concerns again. “This makes cheating doable, it’s a big decision and I don’t think we should rush into it, it makes me uneasy,” she said.

However, the board decided not to revisit the issue or overturn the original motion in spite of this new information and changed circumstances.

After reaching a verdict about online voting they moved into approving bylaws for the upcoming student elections. A heated discussion ensued about whether or not to include a potential bylaw about the use of Facebook during the campaign. Board members raised concerns about slanderous material appearing on Facebook or groups directing students to vote a certain way. Others countered that it’s very difficult to police the Internet and beyond the scope of the Chief Electoral Officer of the CSA. In the end the board decided not to draft a bylaw surrounding Facebook.

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