Credential and graduate students overcome voting hurdles in latest ASI election

By Ava Uhlack, April 16, 2024

The Associated Student Incorporated student government elections occurred last week, where graduate and credential students were unable to participate in the voting process until Wednesday, March 27, a day before polls were set to close.

Voting began Monday, March 25, and was originally slated to end Thursday, March 28, but upon learning about the voting block for some students, it was extended until Friday, March 29.

According to Tony Truong, the newly elected senator for the College of Education and Integrative Studies, when credential and graduate students attempted to vote online for a candidate of their choice, they were met with a screen with the statement, “You are not eligible to vote in this election.”

Truong posted a statement on Instagram almost immediately after hearing about the issue, which was picked up by the Cal Poly Pomona Class Council Instagram account.

The message was a call-out that while appreciative of the staff involved with and supporting the process, the barring of student voices was unacceptable and needed to be handled immediately.

“While we are grateful for the responsiveness of the ASI staff and MyBAR, it’s crucial to emphasize that we are also students with a fundamental right to be heard,” Truong wrote in the post. “Any governmental entity that does nothing to restore a constituent’s right to vote cannot call themselves a true democracy.”

The election was held via MyBAR, a third-party website run by Student Engagement, Leadership and Success to ensure an objective handling of election procedures, eligibility and voting, according to the current ASI President Ilke Suzer.

Suzer spoke with the SELS team during the attempt to fix the issue and suggested the one-day extension be put in place to allow students previously shut out to cast their ballots.

“I did have a follow-up conversation with both ASI and SELS to ensure we don’t repeat this in the future and have every student be able to vote prior to voting,” said Suzer.

Truong consulted with the IT department yet couldn’t get a full reason as to what the sole cause of the issue was other than a recognition that certain subsections of the student population were being excluded from the website.

According to Truong, amid the issue occurring, it was discovered this has previously happened.

“I was told this had happened last year,” said Truong. “The year before that the vote tally was also low. According to the other candidates this has been a reoccurring thing over the last couple years. I guess they only got around to fixing it now because I decided to make this an issue.”

Truong and the other candidates weren’t concerned with who was winning at this point but rather that students’ first amendment right was taken without cause or reason, along with the fact that credential and graduate students not being able to vote in the election is an instance that has occurred before.

“I was thinking about student involvement on campus,” said Truong. “If these things continue to happen without anyone noticing it doesn’t surprise me we have such a low turnout for these events.”

Elections winners have been announced as of Friday, March 29.

Feature image courtesy of Christie Counts. 

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