Falsified vote rattles 2013 AS elections

A fraudulent vote dropped the AS election results back to a tie on Monday, which was broken by the senate in favor of Evan Tan and Becky Gallacher.


John Buchanan

Junior Evan Tan and sophomore Becky Gallacher pose shortly after initially winning the AS presidential election early Friday morning. After a falsified vote was revealed, the senate voted to appoint the pair in a tie-breaking emergency session. | John Buchanan/THE CHIMES

Elizabeth Sallie, Writer

Junior Evan Tan and sophomore Becky Gallacher pose shortly after initially winning the AS presidential election early Friday morning. After a falsified vote was revealed, the senate voted to appoint the pair in a tie-breaking emergency session. | John Buchanan/THE CHIMES


After one voter admitted this weekend to a fraudulent vote cast in the Associated Students elections, junior Evan Tan and sophomore Becky Gallacher are still slated as the 2013-2014 AS president and vice president.

The falsified vote in favor of Tan and Gallacher dropped the score between them and their opponents, juniors Megan Beatty and Cody Nord, to a tie: 762-762.

The AS constitution dictates that in case of a tie, the senate must vote in a closed session, in which all senators must vote. The senate convened tonight at 9 in an emergency session, and voted by 9:20 p.m. to keep Tan and Gallacher in the positions awarded to them on Thursday night. The AS elections committee and executive board were notified this morning about the fraudulent vote by Laura Igram-Edwards, AS adviser.

The fraudulent vote was not a failure of the new electronic system, said vice president of marketing and communications, senior Richie Gowin.

“A student was in another student’s voting session and voted for [Tan-Gallacher],” he said. 

This is not the first time voter fraud has occurred in AS elections, according to Gowin.

“AS has caught it every time … We’re better than the U.S. government,” he said.

Senators responsible for presidential appointment

After the closest election ever became even, the senate was required to break the tie. Students appointed the senate not only to vote in decisions regarding appropriations of the student fund, Gowin said, but to deal with decisions like this one.

“[Senators] had to go with the trust that the student body had placed upon them and vote not on their friendship, but based on who they best thought would fill this position, for the sake of the student body,” he said.

Tan emailed the senate at the beginning of his campaign asking if any of them wanted to be on the team — and out of 14 current senators, the majority were on Tan’s campaign team, including running mate Gallacher.

“In the end I have 13 senators, including Becky, on the team,” Tan said.

Tan just found out last week that the senate would vote in case of a tie, he said. He noted that the senate vote was secret, so he doesn’t know if every campaign member voted for him or not.

“I think they voted with the best of their ability for AS and Biola,” Tan said.

Beatty and Nord did not have any senators involved with their campaign. There are no rules prohibiting senators from being a part of any candidate’s campaign at this point.

“Being in AS, we believe that they have the best understanding of how the programs and processes work,” Gowin said. He clarified that AS staff are not allowed to campaign for anyone while they are on the clock.

“It came back to life”

Tan and Beatty both said they were shocked that the process continued past elections night.

“I thought the elections would be over, and I was trying to rest from it, but it came back to life,” Tan said.

After celebrating the win, having the win revoked would have been difficult, Tan said.

“I’m glad. I’m relieved that it’s just over,” he said.

Beatty and Nord were notified of the change during an afternoon meeting with Igram-Edwards.

“I feel like I’m part of a movie. At least a straight-to-ABC channel show,” Nord said.

“It’s like the weekend was a commercial break, but now it’s like back into the emotional montage,” Beatty replied.

Both responded to the news with laughter — Beatty even fell out of her chair.

“It’s so absurd!” Nord said.

They waited for the senate vote throughout the afternoon. While waiting, they called their campaign team together for a 9:30 p.m. meeting, ready to break the news once the vote was finalized. 

Sticking to the constitution

Both sets of candidates expressed gratitude for the way that Associated Students handled the situation.

“It was really tough for AS to stick to the constitution throughout all this. And I know they were working so hard to do everything by policy, and I respect them so much for that,” Beatty said.

Tan agreed, pointing out that he appreciated AS choosing to announce the situation.

“I’m glad they brought it out and actually talked about it and [were] very transparent and honest about it,” he said.

Though the elections committee discussed the fact that Gallacher was a senator, Gowin said, they ultimately decided to stick with the constitutional provisions — a decision he said was supported by Igram-Edwards and the deans of student development.

The constitution exists to help make hard choices, Gowin said.

“Taking it back out to the students again to vote, in a tie, wouldn’t be helpful because the students have already voiced a tie,” he said.

And runoff elections, he noted, are agonizing for the campaign teams.

“That doesn’t create excitement for elections, that creates contention in the student body,” he said.

What’s next?

Gowin said he plans to meet with University Communications and Marketing to add an extra layer of security to the voting website for next year to prevent something similar from happening again.

Tan said the elections process filled him with humility about his role as president-elect.

“Winning by one vote allowed me to be humble, and now winning by no vote and merely on the senate’s decision just gives me no reason to be prideful at all. I think this is just God trying to teach me how to look at every single step with humility,” he said.

As for Beatty and Nord, they said they’d keep approaching the situation as they had the rest of the elections process: one day at a time.

“This process has shown that the craziest things can happen, and you need to be prepared for them … From what it looks like right now, Evan and Becky are going to be president and vice president for next year, and we’re not here to cause division. Our ultimate goal is to glorify Christ,” Nord said.



Emily Arnold and Katie Nelson contributed reporting to this story. 

0 0 votes
Article Rating