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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Voting system failure in close Treasurer Race

Published: September 15, 2006
Section: News

Wednesdays election for Student Union Treasurer has ended in a draw and will move to a second round, Student Union officials said Thursday. The results of this election will be available Friday evening.

The election between candidates Choon Woo Ha 08 and Brian Paternostro 07 ended with a 525-521 vote in Has favor, leaving both candidates without the required majority. These figures show approximately a 32% voter turnout.

Paternostro is endorsed by the Undergraduate Theatre Collective (UTC), Students Taking Action Now: Darfur (STAND) and the Brandeis Academic Debate and Speech Society;

Ha is endorsed by Positive Foundations, the Brandeis Israel Public Affairs Committee (BIPAC), the Brandeis Republicans, the College Democrats, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the Christian Fellowship, and the Japanese and Korean Student Associations.

The vote makes this semesters election for treasurer even more unusual, as the incoming treasurer is to replace the winner of last springs treasurer election, Harrison Chizik 07, who resigned from the position over the summer. Paternostro, who had been the Student Unions Director of Communications since March, resigned his position in July to run as a candidate in the election.

The elections may face further scrutiny after a serious technological error was discovered by Union officials. Alex Braver 09 sent a campus-wide email explaining that if you voted or attempted to vote before 3:30 [p.m.] today, your vote may not have been recorded due to a technical error with the UNet elections system. Because the final round for treasurer was one of the elections affected, the email stated, the election had [its] vote tallies erased, and, with the permission of the Union Judiciary, [were] restarted at 3:30 [p.m.], and will close at 3:30 p.m. Friday.
Paternostro, originally hesitant to comment about the election, was quick to denounce the state of the Unions electoral system.
As a candidate, I am upset with the complete lack of responsiveness from LTS, and their inability to work with us to come up with a credible election system, he said, recalling previous elections which have barred midyears and admitted graduated seniors. We are not firmly elected if that system can be challenged. Paternostro added that maybe [LTS] should focus less on IPTV and more on something that actually matters. Ha had no comment.

The Union gave conflicted reasons for the glitch and refused to comment on why the Union and LTS have not met to fine-tune the election process. When asked about the voting discrepancies by The Hoot, Braver said that no other race was touched in any way, and they will all continue, without issue or interference, as planned. Our job is to make sure that every student on this campus is enfranchised, and I'm confident that this is now the case.

Several students gave their opinions of both of the candidates and the elections outcome.

I voted for Choon Woo Ha because he had a lot more activities and endorsements, like the Brandeis Democrats and the Brandeis Republicans, said Elizabeth Shteyn, 10. It seemed like a better view of things.

Sam Levor 07, co-coordinator of the Brandeis Experimental Theater, said, I think Brian Paternostro has the most experience out of the two candidates, and I think he is more qualified for the position.

Student Union President Allison Schwartzbaum 08, however, said that she was not surprised by the outcome. Weve got two candidates that are both very qualified, she said. Brian has a lot experience in the Student Union and was here in the summer helping out with financial stuff, so hes got experience there, and Choon has just got a lot financial experience as well. She added that because they're both involved with a lot of things on campus, they have a lot of public support from different constituencies.

Not all students, however, were as impressed as Schwartzbaum. Michael Werner 08 was simply apathetic about the election. Im not voting because its just the school treasurer, he said. Its really unimportant to me. Several other students, who wished not to be identified, did not know the names of either candidate.
These various responses mainly stemmed from the ideological differences and the varied levels of experience between the two candidates. Paternostro told The Hoot that I think the treasurer is the arbiter of Student Activities you deserve what you plan, monetarily.

He explained that he viewed many student groups as small businesses with small credit, with the bank being Student Events. I dont just do a $50 reimbursement check, Paternostro said, but a $45,000 concert fund. He added that were going to be on speed-dial. [Before] any major event, my phones going to ringand thats the kind of help I mean by help.

Paternostro added that his experiences as Managing Director for the Free Play Theatre Cooperative (FPTC), in addition to his background as a Peace, Conflict, and Coexistence Studies (PAX) major, gave him insight into bookkeeping and charge lines, several hundred lines of credit that are divided between the various departments on campus.

They dont realize that all these departments coexist, Paternostro said. This system only works if we acknowledge that if I screw up, everybody gets screwed, because the charge lines are connected. He added that charge lines are like a Sudoku puzzlethey all fit together. And Ive got most of them fit inIve got about six boxes leftand Im just really excited to get this done this semester.

When asked if his responsibilities to the newly-built FPTC might affect his work as treasurer, Paternostro responded that nothings my priority over the Union. I like theatreits my classwork, its my extracurricularsbut Im a Union man.

Paternostros opponent, Choon Woo Ha, is an Economics (ECON) major, as well as a student manager for Usdan and a member of the Positive Foundations group. When interviewed by The Hoot, Ha said he wants to minimize the time spent during communication between the club treasurer, the treasurer, and the F-Board as much as possible.

Ha said that his qualifications for the position ranged back to my high school [,] [which] was an international high school in the Phillipines. It consisted of more than 100 clubs and 60 nationalities, so I am used to working in a diverse environment, so I know I have what it takes to bring this together.

He added that because of his experiences interning with stock brokerage agency Smith Barney and CitiBank, the third largest bank in the world, I know what Im doing with the numbers, and I know how to allocate the budget, and I have knowledge of what Im getting into. Ha also mentioned this is a 30 to 40 hour job, and to fulfill the job every week for the rest of the school year, you must have an unbelievable amount of dedication, motivation, energy, [and] time management.

Ha explained that his decision to run was based on love and passion for what I doknowledge, leadership, and experience are all important, but if one does not have passion, it is all garbage. For that reason, I did not run for any Student Union positions for the two years I have been here, because I did not think I had enough passion [for those positions] to serve the entire community, he said.

However, I am more than ready to take on a leadership role, because I think the Student Union is ready to have a new face, Ha said. I am 100 percent ready to take the treasurer positionthis is because I love the institution, I love Brandeis, I love what it stands for, and Im ready to make clubs that much better.