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The student news site of Milwaukee Area Technical College

MATC Times

The student news site of Milwaukee Area Technical College

MATC Times

The student news site of Milwaukee Area Technical College

MATC Times

Student Senate election locks eligible voters out

Only 27 votes cast across four campus locations
This+is+the+message+received+by+students+attempting+to+cast+a+ballot+in+the+Student+Government+Association+election+held+on+September+28.+Voting+errors+locked+out+eligible+student+from+casting+their+vote+in+the+election.+
Photo by Victoria Magee
This is the message received by students attempting to cast a ballot in the Student Government Association election held on September 28. Voting errors locked out eligible student from casting their vote in the election.

Many enrolled students attempting to vote for their student government officers on Sept. 28, received a system message stating they were not eligible to vote. Administered by the Department of Student Life, it is currently not clear how many students were denied their right to vote in the election.

At press time the Times learned a total of 27 votes were cast by students enrolled at the college. The per-campus voting tally was: Downtown 7 votes, Oak Creek 9, West Allis 5, and Mequon 7.

Additional requests to Student Life for documents including notification to students of the error were not received prior press time.

The Student Government Association, SGA, exists to act as representation for all students. Duly elected members represent each student at every campus in making recommendations to the college’s administration. These student leaders also help in deciding the use of funds. Voting for these individuals typically occurs once a school year. All enrolled students are eligible to vote in SGA elections.

On Tuesday, Sept. 28 an email was sent by MATC Student Services to all enrolled students announced the election with a link for students to cast their votes. However, for several hours eligible students were informed by the system that they were not eligible to vote. No further instructions or contact information regarding their eligibility status or systems help was provided.

According to Erich Zeimantz, Director of Student Life, the issue occurred due to an incorrect list of eligible students uploaded into the Campus Labs system. The incorrect upload did not include a listing of any “online-only” students.  If students with a slate of classes taught only online attempted to vote, they would have received a message saying they were not eligible.

Zeimantz said uploading the list should have corrected the issue of the voting error lockout. He added that the uploaded list contained approximately 16,600 students but that the list probably contained duplicates because he did not remove all the on-campus students from the list before uploading. He states he did not know how many students were affected by the error.

The Times’ initial review of this issue revealed some in-person students were also deemed not eligible to vote by the system.

When asked if voting would be extended due to the irregularities Zeimantz said the winners were already notified and only two people contacted the department about the issue.

“We need to know how many students we are talking about here,” said Zeimantz, referring to complaints. “Is it two or three? If the number gets to around 25-30 people we will start to get really, really concerned”, he said.

Due to COVID-19 safety and health precaution, the college began the 2020 Fall semester with approximately 60% of courses being offered entirely online. As vaccines became available the college was able to offer more classes in-person for the Fall 2021 semester. In April it was announced that a goal of 60% of courses with an in-person component was being made available.  This leaves approximately 40% of the colleges’ students still learning entirely online.  This also represents the percentage of students who may have been unable to vote in the SGA election.

Student Life has not examined into how many students were affected by the systems error.

Zeimantz is not planning to extend the election unless the department receives additional information or hears of students’ concerns about the voter error lockout.

He said students can contact him directly if they experienced issues with the election system at: [email protected] or call him at 414-297-6307.

The Times request for additional documentation from the Department of Student Life was not received before press time. This is a developing story.

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Victoria Magee, Editor-in-Chief