Hub fluke gives alumni homecoming voice
Published: Friday, September 28, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 28, 2012 03:09
Voting participation for homecoming court, king, and queen increased this year as a result of the election being hosted by The Hub student activities website. But, alumni were mistakenly allowed access to vote.
According to Katie Wilson, senior director of student engagement who set up the election using The Hub, the website allows her to choose an eligibility list which grants voting access to those specified.
“There’s a place when I set up [the election] that I set up whether or not the eligibility list is used,” Wilson said. “[The homecoming co-chairs and I] didn’t talk about it, I just enabled general access for it.”
According to Wilson, Associated Student Government elections which were also held through The Hub, were set up with an eligibility list that only allowed residence hall members to participate. This eliminated the possibility of alumni voting.
However, because no eligibility list was used for the homecoming elections, Wilson said anyone with a unique ID had access to vote. Whether that includes only 2012 alumni cannot be confirmed, but since The Hub was set up at the beginning of last school year the assumption is that only that class would have known of the site’s existence and accessed it, Wilson said.
Though Wilson was unable to identify what portion of voters were alumni, the results showed 2,123 participated in the election for court, and 1,211 for king and queen.
Alumni participation was an unintentional side affect of using the new system, according to junior Stephanie Spetrino, homecoming co-chair.
“That’s just something we’ll have to work out with IT,” Spetrino said. “We had no idea that alumni were still able to get in there and [vote].”
Because most alumni were unaware of their access, their participation was low and therefore probably had minimal affects on the results of the election, according to Wilson.
“We certainly wouldn’t have had a way to advertise to alumni that they could vote, so the assumption would be that the majority of people who knew it was time to vote and that they could vote would have been current students,” Wilson said.
According to Noëlle Bernard—one of the 2012 alumni that voted on The Hub—the only reason she even knew she could was because a current student mentioned it.
“I didn’t know that I could vote,” Bernard said. “I don’t remember seeing anything advertised about it.”
Bernard said her alumni friends had also been unaware and therefore didn’t vote. Because of low awareness, alumni’s participation in the election would have had little to no effect on the outcome, Bernard said.
Rebecca Zemmelman, this year’s homecoming queen, said it was a fluke that even she became aware that alumni could vote.
“I guess one of my friends—I forget which round—she just told me ‘I saw a link on your wall and clicked on it and was still able to vote’ even though she had just graduated,” Zemmelman said.
Spetrino dismissed the concern that nominees in Greek organizations would have been able to recruit former members to vote and that this would have given them an unfair advantage.
“As far as the girls go for the queens all five of them were Greek, so if that was the case for one it would’ve been the case for all of them,” Spetrino said.
The Hub is still relatively new to Miami University, so issues are still being addressed, Wilson said.
“One of the things we’re going to need to do is figure out how to graduate members from The Hub,” Wilson said. “It’s a new system, and this is the first year we’ve had that issue come up.”
Wilson said every system comes with potential problems, and that The Hub has at least done an equal—if not better—job of legitimizing the voting process.
“When they’ve done elections in the past through surveys where you circulate a link or through collection of paper ballots there wasn’t any particular way to verify eligibility that non-students were voting in those systems either,” Wilson said.
Paper ballots used in previous years had their own set of problems, Spetrino said.
“People were voting more than once which was something that we wanted to avoid,” Spetrino said. “At least with The Hub we know people can really only log in once to vote.”