Despite assembly vote, election data not released

Jill McCarter | News Editor |

The Student Government Association president has suspended the release of detailed election results from last week’s races, despite the assembly’s vote last Wednesday to publicly release the data.

SGA President Al Carroll said he decided against releasing the data from both the presidential and class officer elections after an assembly member requested that the issue be reconsidered.

Sophomore Katie Palmer, who recently lost the SGA presidential election to Mike Keller, said she made the motion to reconsider on Monday, four days after the original vote.

A motion to reconsider can only be made on the day the original vote was taken or on the next day, according to Robert’s Rules of Order—the procedure that SGA follows.

The assembly originally voted 58-55 to release the data to the public after a 15-minute discussion at last week’s meeting.

During the meeting, Carroll dismissed a detailed discussion about when the data would be released and in what manner.

Parliamentarian A.J. Teare said that since there was no timeline established for releasing the data, Carroll could decide to wait.

“I felt it was the right thing to do,” Carroll said.

The proponents of releasing the data said that students deserve to know the outcome of elections because the winners are in charge of more than $700,000 in student money.

“When you sign up for an election, you know that someone is going to lose and that someone is going to win,” said Katie Bolinger, the representative for CMENC. “They release those numbers in every other election.”

At the time, all four SGA presidential candidates also had told The Collegian they wanted to know the detailed outcomes.

Opponents of releasing the data said that a devastating loss by one candidate could emotionally hurt the student.

“I don’t see what the point of it is,” said E.J. Oldfield, a Residential College representative. “It doesn’t seem like it would do anything except cause a fight.”

Others who spoke out against releasing the data were Carroll, SGA adviser Caroline Huck-Watson and James Schubert, chair of the Election Oversight Committee. Neither Carroll nor Huck-Watson is allowed to vote in assembly.

Carroll, Huck-Watson, Schubert and David Alder, Butler’s senior web systems analyst, are the only people who are allowed to see the detailed election results.

Council on Presidential Affairs Chair Mike Tirman said he thinks releasing the data is pointless, because there already is adequate oversight in the election process.

“I wholeheartedly trust the process,” Tirman said.

Adam Goldstein, the attorney advocate for the Student Press Law Center, said that the release of numbers could increase confidence in the elections’ accuracy.

“Students are entitled from a moral standpoint to know so that they have confidence that their votes matter and are being counted correctly,” Goldstein said.

“But how can you measure this if there are only four people seeing it?”

Huck-Watson said she doesn’t think the data should be released.

“To me, it doesn’t feel right to release it,” Huck-Watson said during the assembly meeting.

Tirman said numbers should not be released because it could potentially deter students from running in future elections or keep them from getting jobs after graduation. He also said he wanted to protect the losing candidates.

Goldstein said that point is moot.

“Anyone who wants to have authority to distribute the money of other students generally ought to be thick-skinned enough to take the results of the election,” Goldstein said. “If they’re not, student government is probably not something they should get into.”

Palmer, the former candidate, said in last week’s assembly meeting that releasing the data would be useful in helping her understand if her campaign was effective.

She said she later reconsidered this position after speaking to Tirman and other CPA members.

“Mike Tirman tried to submit the motion last week, but it had to be done by me,” Palmer said of her decision to request the reconsideration.
As an executive board member, Tirman is not allowed to make such motions.

Tirman said he did not try to submit the motion to reconsider.

“I was helping organize what was going on,” Tirman said. “I helped guide her.”

Palmer, who is also a class officer, said her current stance on the matter is that she wouldn’t mind if the presidential results were released, but that she would not like class officer results to be released because there could be drastic differences in the votes these candidates received.

Both Teare, the parliamentarian, and Schubert, the Election Oversight Committee chair, said there will be discussion about possible options to move forward in assembly today, including amending the original motion or killing it entirely.

“(Carroll) has decided to let the rest of assembly hear the new arguments which brings another view to the situation,” Teare said.