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Homecoming election votes discarded

By Erin Mahoney
Arizona Daily Wildcat
November 6, 1998
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A new balloting system may have foiled a plan to elect a write-in candidate for Homecoming queen, turning students away at the polls.

Scantron sheets were substituted this week for city ballots because state elections coincided with the contest, said Tracie Matorian, Homecoming queen committee co-chairwoman.

"This was the best we could do," Matorian said.

The move put write-in candidate Janet Rico, a political science and communication senior, out of the running when some ballots were discarded. The Scantron system, in which voters pencil in one of five bubbles, allows only for the pre-selected candidates.

Rico, an ASUA senator and Homecoming semifinalist, was the subject of an extensive campaign that began last week. More than 300 students were sent an e-mail pushing for Rico's candidacy.

"Your Homecoming queen should be representative of your whole student body," the e-mail stated, which was sent by her friend Gloria Monta–#241;o, an education junior.

Kevin Schubert, co-chairman of the Homecoming queen committee, said Rico received about 40 write-in votes, but since ballots were counted by Scantron, many others were rejected.

"We never really had a policy on write-ins," Schubert said. "The only problem is, when people write on it (the ballot), it voided the whole thing."

Dan Adler, a Manzanita-Mohave resident assistant, said he heard quite a few complaints about the polling process from residents and other RAs. Adler, a history senior, said he did not vote because he was told it would be impossible to write in.

"If it (a write-in vote) influences the general election, a correction has to be made," Adler said.

About 1,000 students voted in the election, Schubert said, and the Homecoming queen, who will be announced tonight, received 350 votes.

Matorian said despite the large support behind Rico, a write-in victory is highly unlikely.

"Homecoming queen isn't really something a write-in could win," she said. "It's really about the five finalists. They are the choices presented."

Thirteen committee members select five candidates from pool of semi-finalists. The finalist selection consists of several stages, beginning with an application, an interview and several social mixers.

Homecoming queen finalist Amber Ries, an accounting and finance senior, said the selection process seemed unbiased.

"I would think it's done fairly," she said. "But if a majority of students think it's not fair, they need to change it."

ASUA Sen. JosuŽeacute; Lim—n said the write-in campaign was partially due to a dissatisfaction with the selection methods.

"If anything, I wanted to send a message. I think we need to change something," Lim—n said. "I question the process. I wonder if its as unbiased as it should be."

Candidates are evaluated by several committee members, who look individually for specific qualities, Schubert said. Those who oppose the method are uninformed, he said.

"It's definitely a fair process," he said. "Everyone is graded on the same basis."

Schubert said he was impressed with the support for Rico, but that it wasn't completely fair to the other candidates.

"I wish we could accommodate more (finalists)," Schubert said. "You get so many overqualified girls. I don't want any of the girls there to feel any less deserving."

Rico said she wasn't surprised by not making the ballot.

"I don't expect to win, but the support is amazing." Rico said. "If this is what my friends want to do for me, I'm OK with it."

Fairness was an issue to Rico, who said many supporters were disappointed with the polling process.

"People didn't think it was fair," Rico said. "I'm not a size 2, I'm not drop-dead gorgeous, but I'm a good person."

John Ryan, a philosophy sophomore and Manzanita-Mohave RA, said he believed the lack of write-in space was unfair.

"It doesn't coincide with UA tradition," he said. "To tell people you can't write someone in is not fair."

Erin Mahoney can be reached via e-mail at Erin.Mahoney@wildcat.arizona.edu.