Summer Bridge students face difficulty voting in ASUC elections because of technical issues

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The ASUC Elections Council extended in-person voting at Eshleman Hall by five hours Wednesday evening after learning that Summer Bridge students were unable to vote online, according to Elections Council Chair Linsha Qi, who previously worked in The Daily Californian’s blog department.

After voting began Monday, Qi said the Elections Council was informed that Summer Bridge students were unable to use CalLink, the platform for submitting online ASUC election ballots. Qi added that the on-campus voting booth provides paper ballots to make up for technical issues.

“The Elections Council’s goal has always been to make voting easy and accessible to all UC Berkeley students,” Qi said in an email. “We are saddened by the technical issues that have caused this to be the case, and hope that all Summer Bridge students understand that we did everything in our power to resolve the issue in the fastest manner possible.”

LEAD Center coordinator and technical support for CalLink Millicent Morris-Chaney explained that Summer Bridge students cannot access the entire CalLink system because of an error with the Office of the Registrar. During Summer Bridge, these students were given specific user identification numbers, but when they were officially registered as students in the fall, they were assigned different identification numbers.

“We are now working with (Student Information Systems) and the Registrar’s Office to correct the problem,” Morris-Chaney said. “CalLink gets the data from the Registrar’s Office and the information that’s in the Registrar’s Office is incorrect.”

When freshman Morgan Hillary found out that people on her floor were unable to vote in the ASUC elections online, she emailed the ASUC Administrative Office on Monday to ask why.

She received a response from Qi, who said she was surprised that the CalLink issue had not been resolved yet as it had persisted throughout the year. Qi also explained that the problem could not be fixed and Summer Bridge students would have to vote in-person, according to Hillary.

“I’m a part of the African American community, which is below three percent here and a lot of my peers in the African American community are a part of Summer Bridge,” Hillary said. “The fact that parts of my community were having trouble voting … to me, that was really disappointing.”

Morris-Chaney said the LEAD Center only realized how widespread the CalLink issue was Wednesday, when a number of Summer Bridge students reported that they could not vote.

ASUC presidential candidates André Luu and Zaynab AbdulQadir-Morris were both disappointed to hear about the error in the voting system. Luu said all students should be able to easily access voting, but he believes that the Elections Council did its best to accommodate the error.

AbdulQadir-Morris explained that she was also a Summer Bridge student in 2014 and knows a lot of people in the program who wanted to vote for her.

“People had been telling us all throughout the week that they weren’t able to vote,” AbdulQadir-Morris said. “It’s really stressful to know that a whole group of people that I have built relationships with could not vote.”

Malini Ramaiyer is the lead city government reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @malinisramaiyer.