The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Three non-students found to have cast ballots in Student Government elections

Photo by Patrick Hansell for The Lafayette
Student Involvement plans to block employees from OurCampus voting.

The Student Government Ad Hoc Committee to Study Elections recently found three instances of non-students voting in Student Government elections over the past four years. According to the Student Government constitution, “all Executive Officers are to be elected by the student body.” 

Anna Fenkel ‘25, a member of the committee, said that the committee was formed in order to research the past election and to look into how Student Government can better promote voter engagement.

“We’re looking at the results of the election, asking people why they didn’t vote if they didn’t vote and asking people why they did vote if they did,” Fenkel said. “We were asking what Student Government can do to make elections more inclusive, accessible and interactive.”

Trebor Maitin ‘24, the parliamentarian of Student Government and chair of the committee, said the entire executive board has access to voting returns. In analyzing these during the committee meetings, they were able to sort between employee and student voters. While 18 individuals marked as employees had been tagged as voting, 15 of them ended up being student employees.

“The fact of the matter is that there have been three ballots cast by non-students in Student Government elections since 2020,” Maitin said.

The names of the three non-students have not been released.

A report from the committee stated that “a ballot was cast in the 2021-2022 presidential election by a psychology professor, a ballot was cast in the 2022 presidential election by a member of the Student Life staff, and a ballot was cast in the most recent election by a separate member of the Student Life staff.”

Maitin recently reached out to all of the individuals and has been in contact with two of them. He said that his first question was why any non-student would even be motivated to vote in a student body election.

“I don’t know why someone who is not a student would want to vote in Student Government elections or even care about the outcome. It’s not your place,” Maitin said. “We as students, this is our way to voice our concerns … So I don’t know why employees care about that.”

The biggest concern to both Maitin and Fenkel was the possibility of non-students changing the results of an election, especially given historically low voter turnout.

“If you look at the 2023 election … Olivia Puzio won by five votes,” Maitin said. “So if any old employee of the college is able to vote, that can threaten the integrity of our elections if those three employees were to vote in the same year. That it is a possibility is a problem.”

“It’s literally voter fraud,” Fenkel said. “It could sway the election against the will of the students who [Student Government] is representing.”

Dean of students Brian Samble encouraged changes to be made to OurCampus, where voting is conducted. These changes would ensure non-students lose access to voting in future elections. 

“The SG elections committee should, as a matter of quality assurance, sort out any non-students from totals,” Samble wrote in an email. “I have directed Student Involvement to contact OurCampus to ensure additional mechanisms of authentication are in place to prevent faculty/staff from even inadvertently accessing a ballot.”

Vanessa Pearson, director of Student Involvement, coordinated with Maitin.

“Vanessa and I decided the best course of action would be to just block people marked as employees in OurCampus from voting,” Maitin said, adding that the pair was initially worried that such an action would disenfranchise the student employees that were marked as employees.

However, according to Maitin, “in more recent years there have not been students marked [as] employees. So this would not disenfranchise any students from voting.”

The ad hoc committee is not overly concerned with the situation but is glad that it can take action to prevent greater issues.

“I think there’s no reason to be alarmed here, but I think it’s an important issue. And it’s something that could be dangerous,” Maitin said. “But I’m thankful that nothing has happened thus far that would impact any election of the student government. But it’s something that we need to keep an eye out for going forward.”

Disclaimer: Managing Editor Trebor Maitin ‘24 did not contribute writing or reporting.

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About the Contributors
Emma Chen
Emma Chen, Managing Editor
Emma has very strong opinions about crust, has never eaten a blueberry, and is a staunch hater of AP style.
Patrick Hansell
Patrick Hansell, Staff Photographer

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