Cries of outrage slammed the Student Election Commission at a press conference Tuesday after the commission announced the abrupt cancellation of this week's Associated Students of Madison elections.
SEC Chair Tim Leonard said the technical system in which students vote online could not handle the "unprecedented" voter turnout and "high level of write-in candidates."
Additionally, some votes were counted more than once and some votes were not registered at all, he said.
"[I]n the interest of getting all students the chance to vote in a fair and error-proof election, we have decided to postpone the current election," Leonard told the audience.
Leonard's statement stirred a commotion among those present, which then increased when Leonard said all of the recorded votes have been "zeroed out."
According to Leonard, University of Wisconsin's DoIT could not investigate the problem without getting into the system, and the only way to do so was to shut down elections.
Jen Weaver, an ASM student organizer, said the online voting system experienced particular problems registering write-in votes. Many students received error messages when they tried to vote for a write-in candidate, and consequently voted for ballot-candidates they did not actually support, she added.
"We have never had this kind of voter turnout before, so we have never tested the system this way … this decision had to be made," Weaver said.
However, many of attendees of the conference disagreed.
Josh Healey, a member of Student Labor Action Coalition, demanded a student vote to cancel the election.
Immediately after his comment, other members of SLAC started "Bullshit!" chants — typically directed toward referees at Badger sporting events — in response to the cancellation by the elections commission
According to Healey, in "every election from the president down" there are "irregularities," but an election has never been stopped in the middle of the process.
"You allow [the votes] to be tallied, and then there is an appeal process…that's what happens," Healey said.
Representatives from SLAC, supporters of the Wisconsin Union Facilities Improvement Plan and ASM candidates present at the event expressed concern with stopping the elections with many saying the process neglected rules of democracy.
Some also questioned why the ASM Student Council was not notified of the cancellation prior to the press conference. Others accused the Student Elections Commission of having clandestine motives.
"It looks awfully shady," SLAC member Ashok Kumar said. "The election that is asking the most money out of students — the most important election [is cancelled] … by the power invested in Tim Leonard."
Joel Feingold, also a member of SLAC, displayed anger at the fact that ASM was not consulted before the votes were "zeroed out."
He alluded to the assumption that the elections commission shut down the voting process because there were too many people voting in support of the Union renovation and Living Wage referendums.
"So the problem was too much democracy and the solution is no democracy?" Feingold asked Leonard during the press conference.
But Leonard countered saying Feingold is "totally wrong," and defended the decision to stop the elections by describing the implications of the faulty voting system. He said he feels students should have full access to their "constitutional rights," including ASM election candidates.
"The [ASM] Constitution says that people are guaranteed cumulative voting — they weren't being guaranteed that," Leonard said. "The Constitution says that people are guaranteed write-in votes — they weren't being guaranteed that."
Additionally, Chief Justice of the Student Judiciary Nick Fox said thousands of students may have been "disenfranchised due to technical difficulties."
But for Vice Chair of SEC Josh Tyack, he predicted anger and fictitious rumors will emerge out of the election cancellation.
"I just hope people bear with us," he said.