SGA’s online voting still out-of-line

<em>Editor’s Note: Following is an editorial of The Mercury’s editorial board. The Editorial Board consists of the newspaper’s management team (editor-in-chief, managing editor, section editors, advertising manager and copy editor). The editorial board will discuss, debate and develop editorial positions on issues affecting the UTD community as needed. We welcome your responses.</em>

For three years the SGA has attempted secure and reliable online voting, and for three years it has failed.

Once again some voters have been turned away from the digital ballot box, for no better reason than somehow their records are incorrect in the UTD “system.”

SGA’s fault lies not in the lines of code, but in its decision to use an unreliable database of student information and not provide a viable voting alternative like good old paper ballots alongside.

In its essence, the voting system is comprised of two parts. Number one, the log-in system – which checks who you are, your eligibility status as a UTD undergraduate and keeps you from voting twice. Number two, the tally system – which actually counts the digital chads to figure out who gets the noble honor of leading our student body through the next 12 months.

SGA is now in its second iteration of the latter part, with new code painstakingly written over the past seven months by the talented technology committee chairman, Stephen Lecheler. By all accounts, his code works fine. The problem occurs before you get your chance to choose.

Upon logging in, some students, including The Mercury’s own Uday Gurnani, who is himself running for a senatorial seat, are told they cannot vote because they are not undergraduate students.

To fix the error, he called Information Resources (IR), who directed him to the Records department, who confirmed he was an undergraduate. The Records department’s updated database clearly isn’t the one SGA references for online voting.

Eventually, Lecheler said he would “punch a hole in the system” to allow Gurnani his chance to vote, but many others are left in the digital darkness, stuck waiting for the bureaucratic behemoth – IR’s database of student accounts – to update its innards.

In a university that prides itself on graduating more computer science majors than any other school in America, it is wholly unacceptable that our SGA cannot figure out a reliable and effective online voting system.

The UTD Mercury editorial board voted 5-0 in favor of this opinion.

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