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Sabb Voting Starts with Online Problems

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Feb 13 2004 11:43

Amidst denial of access to the system and confusion over passwords and website addresses, on-line voting has started in this year’s sabbatical elections.

Click Here for the Full Article

Feb 13 2004 12:52

It's a total catastrophe - many students with union cards haven't even received emails with their passwords, and are now being asked to call an external number for assistance. Can they fix it (in time)? I sure hope so...

2. Gary   
Feb 13 2004 13:01

The password I was origionally emailed was wrong. I replyed and queried this, and was given the correct password. Then I couldn't access the voting page, as whenever I tried to log in it returned me to the initial voting page. I have now discovered that if you go directly to, rather than via the union's html frames page, then it works fine.

3. Gary   
Feb 13 2004 13:03

If you want to know your password email with your union card number... (I'm sure they'll love me for publishing that online!)

Feb 13 2004 13:58

I had no problems whatsoever.

5. Simon   
Feb 13 2004 14:22

Yeah, I wasn't able to vote using the link on the union webpage. As Gary said, use the "unframed" version at and it works.

This isn't very professional...

Feb 13 2004 15:08

The problem has now been fixed. If you experience further problems please call the helpline number, 020 7664 2060, and they will help you.

Feb 13 2004 16:21

3rd party cookies - tut, tut, tut....

Yes! A security feature in Internet Explorer thwarts democratic rights!

Feb 13 2004 16:38

Well with ULU involved I guess something was just bound to go wrong!

Feb 13 2004 16:46

A little bird tells me that we may yet again have a super voting farce on our hands this year...

Feb 13 2004 18:38

I'm interested to know what the criteria for sending out emails to people was. I've received my password, but people who got their cards about the same time seem not to have. Indeed, everyone I've spoken to in my department so far seems to have not got an email.

11. tatlin   
Feb 13 2004 21:46

Imperial's own florida!!

We exclude people cos they ain't got a union card, then we exclude em cos then don't get their password. Then when you try to vote it takes three goes to make the damn thing work.

And and the problem will no doubt be student apathy!

12. Simon   
Feb 13 2004 23:05

In my humble opinion:

"I believe that the problem with emails not being sent was the data input at the ULU end.

The little postcards which you filled in with email address etc were all sent off to ULU to be manually input to a computer. One can only assume that either handwriting was illegable or that there were human errors in data input.

I believe that after the initial batch of passwords were emailed out there were a lot of bounces. ICU worked flat out to correct these email addresses so that new passwords could be sent out. I believe that under 100 people are still without passwords, apparently."


What *I* want to know is what is going on with the Felix scandal? Why was it impounded? What did they do that they shouldn't have? Who made the decision to go ahead and release Felix? And what WAS decided in the emergency exec meeting which finished at 9pm tonight and that no-one will talk about...

It's a conspiracy!

13. Andy   
Feb 13 2004 23:57

Why aren?t the union using the college password system, or our CID numbers?? That way surly there might be fewer problems AND no one would be excluded for not having a union card, as every one must have a security card.

Is it not the case that every student must be aloud to vote even if they are not members of the union?

"Students should have the right not to be members of the union and students who exercise that right should not be unfairly disadvantaged, with regard to the provision of services or otherwise, by reason of their having done so."

So is this election not invalid?

Online Voting - cool

Union/ULU cards - not cool

14. Andy   
Feb 14 2004 00:00

OK, I read some more! But still.

15. botch   
Feb 14 2004 12:34

i quote the constition:

"Students have the right to opt out of Union membership, so that they are not represented by it. Opted out students may not be unfairly disadvantaged with regards to provision of any service. This means they can join any club or society, and can be subsidised at the same rate as Full Members"

Therefore needing union cards for club or society membership is against the constitution. What a farce.

Feb 14 2004 13:02

In response to 'botch's comments, the current sabbatical team discussed how to deal with students who decide to opt out of Union membership but who still want to join clubs. We came up with the solution, which was to issue such students with a slightly different card, before the academic year started as we were conscious that we did not want to disadvantage anyone and were aware of our Constitutional obligations. This option has been available to anyone who wishes to opt out from the start of the academic year.

So far nobody has asked to opt out of the Union this year so we haven't had to give out any of these cards.

Students who decide to opt out of the Union have given up their right to vote in elections just to clarfy Andy's confusion.

Before making accusations you should probably attempt to check the facts.

And finally, Elections Committee are responsible for running the elections and implementing Union Policy and Council are responsible for taking the decision to use electronic voting. Elections matters, as with most things related to the Union, are a collective decision.

17. Alex   
Feb 14 2004 13:40

Katherine, I respect the decision to consider people who opt out.

But I'm a member who simply doesn't have a union card. Are you telling me that if I wish to vote, it's reasonable to be expected to obtain one, even if it's never used for anything else?

Electronic voting is not the issue. The fact that alternative authentication mechanisms exist that do not require Union bureaucracy is.

18. Andy   
Feb 14 2004 14:01

Well, as they say the proof is in the pudding - we'll just see how many people vote in comparison to last year.

Could all of the money saved by this system be used to make a system that was more Imperial specific?

Are there a number of votes that must be cast to make the election valid?

Katherine - thanks for your reply.

Feb 14 2004 15:01

I think the only response to Alex's comments would be to point out that, while all citizens of the UK over the age of 18 are entitled to vote, they have to register in order to do so. This is to ensure that all people who are not entitled to vote are not allowed to vote and to verify that those who have registered genuinely have the right to vote.

At the moment not everyone who has a College swipecard, or even who has a swipecard marked with the word 'student' on it is allowed to vote in ICU elections, so there needs to be a way of verifying whether someone who is casting a vote has a right to do so. This is done by students having a Union card and registering their details, because the only people who can get Union cards are those who are genuinely entitled to vote.

You may not like it, but at the moment there are no alternative authentication systems that the Union can use to ensuring elections are fair. The system proposed by Andy of using College passwords and CID numbers is an option that is not open to use by the Union at this time. When I started at College it was compulsory to have a Union card in order to vote in elections, the system worked well and there could be no question marks over the legitimacy of anyone's claim to a vote. Making Union cards a requirement to vote is not a new thing, it is just a practice that has not been observed for a few years.

Just like in a general elections, the Union must run fair elections and just like in a general election you must register to vote if you wish to do so, which means getting a Union card.

If anything, the Union has facilitated democracy for Union members by combining the ICU and ULU cards. These cards used to be issued seperately, but are now combined so a greater number of IC students now have a ULU cards which gives them the opportunity to vote in the ULU sabbatical elections.

20. amram   
Feb 14 2004 15:56

The problem is not so much the requirement to have a union card to be allowed to vote, as the TIME- LAG, ie one needs to get a card at least 8 days before an election. Well, sorry hacks, IC students are busy people and this requirement makes less voter participation inevitable. If one could obtain a card the day before the election then there would be far less controversy!

21. ummm   
Feb 14 2004 15:56

um kath, what it does mean is that ICU has the biggest most no. of ULU cards in london, so an imperial candidate is more likely to win. interesting huh?

arif for ULU president one day?

22. Nia   
Feb 14 2004 16:06

I don't understand what is the difference betwen a deadline one day and difference 8 days preceeding that. A deadline is a deadline and if you get organised you won't miss it and if you don't then you might, it's as simple. When the deadline is doesn't make a differene as long as people are aware of it in advance.

Feb 14 2004 16:21

"Ummmm" makes the most interesting point on the posting.

I'm sure President Arif's response would be: "you might think that, I couldn't possibly comment".

But we shouldn't discuss it here because it might invalidate his candidacy...

Feb 14 2004 17:19

The joint ULU/ICU card system was agreed my Mr Ganesh last year, and not engineered by Mustafa.


25. tatlin   
Feb 14 2004 17:49

why was comment edited?

26. Simon   
Feb 14 2004 19:09

Like I said... it's a consipracy.

Is ANYONE going to throw any light on the felix matter... (obviously not).

27. alex C   
Feb 14 2004 19:30

More information - what little can be made public - can be found here.

28. amram   
Feb 14 2004 20:14

1 day before election gives 7 days more of oppurtunity to get a card. True a deadline is a deadline but aless tight deadline would avoid a lot of the controversy surrounding the problem. Indeed a week is a long time in Politics...

29. Alex   
Feb 14 2004 23:43

Thanks for replying, Katherine.

I understand the requirement for voter registration. Showing a card is sensible when voting in person. But when everything is online, and College email is considered secure enough to transmit passwords, we can do better.

I presume the Union has a list of its members and their College email addresses. It would be straightforward to build a "You're Registered!" page and email a personalised link to it to every member. You get the email, click the link and bang, you're registered; your password is sent shortly thereafter.

No authenticating with College, no worries about incorrect transcription.

Perhaps something for ULU to consider.

30. Sunil   
Feb 15 2004 01:49

"while all citizens of the UK over the age of 18 are entitled to vote, they have to register in order to do so. This is to ensure that all people who are not entitled to vote are not allowed to vote and to verify that those who have registered genuinely have the right to vote."

No, the registration process is only there because elections take place by constituency. You need to register so that the authorities can make sure that you can vote in only one constituency. An online nationwide system would (in theory, at least) not require this form of registration.

Alex's system would work perfectly, and doesn't even require a "click me" page, the passwords can simply be emailed out to every person entitled to vote in the list of entitled people held by the Union.

The Union doesn't need to require registration for anything other than petty bureaucratic reasons. Unless there's some view held by those in charge that it's in a sense better to have only those "interested" enough to pick up their cards voting cos their voices matter more?

31. Sunil   
Feb 15 2004 02:21

"I presume the Union has a list of its members and their College email addresses."

And so did I presume too. But apparently this is not the case at all, ICU has a list of members but not one with their email addresses.

Feb 15 2004 02:38

The complaints about the 8 day pre voting deadline to get union cards are stupid. You have all had over 4 months, if you aren't competent of managing your time to spare a few minutes in 4 months i don't know how you cope with course deadlines etc.

Feb 15 2004 15:31

Do you really expect us to believe it would be impossible to get a list of student e-mails out of the college? But, I do suppose that all the options were explored and IC/UCL card option was the only way to go!?! and that it wasn?t just a half baked idea accepted by a lousy council.

thoughts - 8 days, 8 months, 8 mins, it doesn't matter! It's just another burden and for students who only want to use it once to vote once.

Feb 15 2004 15:58

Presumably People Finder is offering to find all those email addresses? I would have thought the same problems as with department lists would appear? i.e. keeping the list up to date, plus maybe data protection (although college has been known to just make up distribution lists...)

35. Alex   
Feb 15 2004 19:17

All we need is a global student list.

Consider the College directory at All leaf entities have a 'User Class' attribute, set to 'student', 'pg', 'staff' or 'visitor'. Querying the tree structure for students is therefore straightforward. Talking to ICT about how they populate the LDAP server would probably reveal more methods.

Counting and comparing the resultant names+emails against the Union's names-only list would be sensible. (Who knows what fun multiply-registered students and non-existent members might be found!)

Data protection? Every student's email address is available to be crawled through that Web interface today.

Might an ordinary student suggest that any incoming administration get to grips with these information management issues?

36. Chuks   
Mar 20 2004 18:58

Please how can I be getting passwords of yahoo users.

Mar 21 2004 01:14

I feel an online system shoudl only had been considered when there was cooperation from the college's information system on access to the student database. There is no way such a system can work using a cheap workaround by using ULU cards.

Closed This discussion is closed.

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