USC extends bus pass vote by 10 hours

Initial delay caused by unforeseen technical problem

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Many students trying to vote on the bus pass referendum early Wednesday morning were met with the news that they were not franchised as undergraduates.

The University Students’ Council’s referendum to determine whether students are willing to pay an eight per cent fee increase for their current eight-month bus pass was temporarily put on hold due to a technical malfunction in the host website.

In an attempt to make up for the approximately 10 hours of lost voting time, the USC has decided to extend online voting until Saturday, March 14.

“Online voting will now close at 6 a.m. on March 14. We have extended it by 10 hours because no one could vote during the down time,” Rachel Halpern, USC communications officer, said.

As for the technical problems, Nick Hung, USC chief returning co-ordinator, said there was no way anyone could have foreseen the glitch.

“We have a procedure where we have a test ballot and that worked out fine,” Hung explained.

“The problem was in an area that we don’t normally look at. The list of students was not uploaded properly … so we had to fix some corrupted files once staff came in the morning. No one was franchised, but the problem is solved now.”

Hung added he received several hundred emails from students who were unable to cast their ballot Wednesday morning. Despite the high volume of emails, Hung assured he intends to respond to all of them and let students know the system is working.

With the possibility of not meeting the required quorum of 20 per cent of voters " or roughly 5,500 students " plaguing the referendum, some worry any voting downtime might hinder the turn-out. If quorum is not met, the referendum will not pass and students will lose their bus pass regardless of the outcome of the vote.

Danielle Da Silva, a fourth-year science student, was unable to cast her vote early Wednesday. She said she believes the lost time on the first day of voting is enough to discourage unsuccessful voters from returning to the polls.

“It was really frustrating because I was taking five minutes out of my schedule to vote on something that I was passionate about, but other students may not feel the same way and may not try to vote again,” Da Silva said.

“10 hours out of 72 is a lot of time to not vote on an issue that affects the entire student body.”

However, USC President Stephen Lecce was not concerned.

“It would be most unfortunate if we didn’t meet quorum, but I believe students are engaged enough in the bus pass issue to want to vote,” Lecce argued.

Lecce added the USC has done everything it can to encourage voting and the fate of the bus pass now rests in the hands of students.

“I’m pleased to see students are voting and I’m confident that we’ve learned from our mistake. We’re determined to execute the next 48-hours without any more delays.”

Bus Pass Vote Extension
Voting for the USC bus pass referendum has been extended until March 14 at 6 a.m.

To vote on the fate of the bus pass, visit www.westernbuspass.ca

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