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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Mobile polling temporarily banned from elections

Published: February 6, 2009
Section: News

Students running in this week’s Student Union elections were not allowed to use mobile polling as a campaign strategy after Student Union Secretary Tia Chatterjee ’09 banned the tactic.

Chatterjee wrote in an e-mail to The Hoot that she decided to ban mobile polling stations when she learned that Executive Senator Andrew Brooks ’09 had submitted a resolution to the senate that would create a by-law in the Union Constitution banning the stations.

“Since it was something that was being considered by the senate, I decided to add the rule for this race to see what the impact was,” she said.

Mobile polling stations—when candidates and their supporters bring their laptops to students and ask them to vote online—have been used since last year’s fall elections.

This fall, the use of mobile polling stations was attributed to former Union Vice President Adam Hughes’ victory over Brooks in the vice presidential elections.

Brooks introduced the resolution at Sunday’s senate meeting, however due to an over booked agenda, the senate voted to table the resolution until this Sunday.

Brooks, who authored the resolution, said in a phone interview with The Hoot that while both his and Hughes’ campaign used mobile polling this fall; however, he has since reconsidered his use of the tactic.

“We were doing it to raise voter turnout,” he said, “but I realized that voting should be closed doors to make sure that the voters are not intimidated.”

Chatterjee agreed.

Candidates aren’t supposed to see who a student votes for,” she wrote. “And the ability of being able to bring a student directly to your laptop while getting them to vote, might put unfair pressure to vote for you.”

Hughes, who resigned from his position as Vice President last week, said that “I used [mobile polling] because I had to compete, but it worked well for me.”

“We weren’t doing it to be sneaky, we just wanted to increase voter turnout,” he said.

Brooks said that if passed the by-law would create an election commission that would run polling stations across campus to increase voter turnout.

The commission’s polling stations would be organized by students not working for any Union campaigns.