By Shaun Chornobroff
After a nine-day voting period that saw more than 560 votes cast, the decision for the next Student Government Association (SGA) president will be determined via a runoff due to what current president Andrew Bernstein called “a bit of an abnormality” at the SGA weekly senate meeting on Thursday.
The difference between the candidates: junior economics major Joe Tufo and Naa’san Carr, a junior political science major, was a single vote. However, due to 25 ineligible students casting their votes, it could not be confirmed which candidate was the honest victor, Bernstein explained to a surprised crowd.
Bernstein, a senior political science major, said SGA hopes to have more information sent to the university community tonight.
“We had people voting in an election who were ineligible and they could have been the difference,” Bernstein said to a room of more than 30 students and staff members.
The runoff election will take place from April 17 at 10 a.m. to April 18 at 4 p.m., with voting taking place on BroncNation, according to an SGA email sent Thursday afternoon. In-person voting locations will be available in the Student Recreation Center (SRC), Cranberry’s and the lower patio of the Bart Luedeke Center (BLC).
Bernstein said all other races were outside the 25 vote margin of error and were not in danger of being compromised.
Voting for Rider’s SGA elections was held from April 3-12 and is exclusive to full-time undergraduate students. The disqualified votes came from students who were outside of those qualifications. When opening up to questions from the audience, Bernstein was asked whether this had been communicated by the SGA.
“We have. We encourage all our candidates to do that as well. It’s written in our bylaws and constitution and it’s been communicated. Whenever a graduate student asks, can they vote, the answer is always no. It’s part of our messaging, especially when we table and ask students to vote,” said Bernstein.
After the meeting had concluded, Bernstein said to The Rider News that he plans for the matter to be resolved in the early part of next week.
All voting is done via Rider’s BroncNation, which both undergraduate and graduate students have access to. Bernstein explained to the crowd that the votes are confidential, therefore SGA is unable to identify the students or who they voted for, but were able to calculate the total number of discounted votes.
“It was a problem that we had anticipated and it’s something that we figured out through the system, we figured out a way to address it,” said Bernstein. “This is something that we knew if it was possible, we would have to go through an audit and make sure that things were accurate.”
Rider’s Associate Dean of Campus Life Nick Barbati stood up during the meeting and said he’d been helping through the election process and that both candidates had been alerted to the dilemma prior to its public revelation.
“You have to understand that we have to do this the right way. So it is something that we have to make sure that the election is actually reflective of the students that should be voting on it,” said Barbati. “This is really unfortunate, but we are going to work to get this right, everyone involved in this deserves to get it right.”
This is a breaking story. The Rider News will be updating as it receives information.