What was supposed to be an eventful day of online voting, turned into a digital disaster.
FAMU Elections is generally one of the most prominent and exciting moments that happens on campus, but COVID-19 took this moment away from the student body when all activity was moved online.
A voting link was scheduled to be sent out at 8 a.m. leaving voting open until 6 p.m. But students received the link as early as 7 a.m. and to make matters worse—alumni also received access to the voting link.
As the former Elections & Appointments Chairman, I CALL FOR AN IMMEDIATE SHUT DOWN ON FAMU SPRING ELECTIONS 🗣🗣🗣
THERE SHOULD BE NO REASON WHY I AM ABLE TO VOTE AS AN ALUMNI!
I BLAME THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION AND ELECTIONS AND APPOINTMENTS CHAIRWOMAN!
THIS IS SAD !
— donèy 👨🏽🏫 (@Certified_Doney) April 21, 2020
Current SGA President Rochard Morricette spoke out in a Twitter thread claiming that Alumni counts would be voided.
To Be Clear, ALUMNI votes are VOIDED in these online elections. The links that are emailed to current students are identified with their FAMU information. When you copy and paste the link and send it to an alumni, of course they will see the ballot and be able cast a “Vote” but
— Rochard Moricette (@RMoricette) April 21, 2020
Students took their concerns to Twitter and within a few hours, the entire student body knew about the errors on the digital ballot.
You want the link? Cuz it’s for everybody 😂 https://t.co/WghqAungcv
— HOODIE ΣIGMA (@Caleb_059) April 21, 2020
Some students weren’t aware that each ballot a student receives is according to their credits, not by the class they entered with or identify with.
Students also complained about certain candidates missing from the ballot and glitches while voting.
Plenty of alumni and students are also claiming that they can vote more than once by using the link on different devices.
And not only could I vote on my phone…I can also go on my Mac, click the same link and vote again. 😐
— Randall Lamar🍾 (@RL_Griffin) April 21, 2020
The Electoral Commission was popularly nicknamed the “Ghettoral Commission” by alumni and Instagram Live personalities, “Hollywood The Doll” and “Certified Doney.”
Both personalities have proved to have a powerful influence in elections as a former Queen of Orange & Green and Elections and Appointments Chairman.
Since the elections have been moved to online, Hollywood and Doney have taken the elections into their own hands by hosting their own debates, commentary and a talent show outside of the Electoral Commission.
“Hollywood” believes that the Electoral Commission did their best, but it could’ve been better planned.
“They tried to work under these circumstances—unprecedented with this pandemic, however critical thinking could’ve solved a lot of this,” she said.
After a few hours into the disaster, students and candidate teams began to smear or discredit their competitors. And FAMU Twitter has a pattern of heating things up when there’s competition.
Maurice Gilbert, a sophomore Political Science student says that the Student Government Association is actively trying to solve these problems.
“Essentially elections were pushed back originally because of a technical error and the vacancy of a solicitor general position,”
Many students believe that the former E&A chair person is to blame for the mishaps, but Gilbert defended them claiming that is not true.
The former E&A chair will remain unnamed because they are a current candidate.
“[E&A Chair] had already resigned by the time elections were pushed back due to an interpretation of the documents that states anyone in E&A must resign from the committee,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert said that the former E&A chair had no input on elections being pushed back.
For current candidates, the heat is on. After adapting to the last minute changes for online voting, candidates must now maintain a professional poker face in the midst of chaos.
As a former SGA candidate Jabari Knox is no stranger to the stress and intensity of a FAMU race.
“I commend the candidates. Publicly, they are keeping a strong composure and still encouraging students to exercise their right to vote. I’m sure that the candidates have a new anxiety from the exhaustion of having to pre-campaign/campaign for a full semester. As well as the looming possibility of them having to redo elections completely. No one wanted to vote this late. No one wants to vote again,” said Knox.
Election season can bring out the worst in people but instead of blaming the candidates, why don’t we take a good look at our university?
Many HBCUs conduct their elections online leaving students to believe that FAMU was not equipped nor prepared to handle online voting.
Results were supposed to be revealed to students late tonight, but it may be delayed due to the negatively criticized voting system.
SGA members of the 49th senate have resorted to releasing statements via Twitter in efforts to calm the chaos.
🚨🚨 The current election situation is being investigated and handled. We do not have an update as of yet. However, please continue to submit your ballots and we will keep you all updated.
-The 49th Student Senate
— Maya ✨ (@shes_a_beaute) April 21, 2020
The 49th Student Senate still encourages students to vote and that there will be updates throughout the day.