Candidate left off DSG frosh ballot

Duke Student Government leaders accepted responsibility for mistakingly omitting freshman Andrew O'Rourke from the freshman senate elections ballot for the first three hours of elections Tuesday.

O'Rourke, who ran for community interaction senator, said though he was not elected to the position he will instead apply to be a DSG at-large senator. He added that DSG President Paul Slattery, a senior, gave him the opportunity to request a re-vote, but recommended the alternative to be fairer to the other candidates.

"In the fact that it's going to be fair to the most number of people, that's alright, [but] I would've liked to see a legitimate election in the first place," O'Rourke said.

DSG Attorney General Paul Zarian, a sophomore and head of the Election Commission, said a re-vote could potentially shift the voter turnout. Supporters for one candidate might show up in greater force in the re-vote, he explained.

"We thought this was the best way for all the candidates," Zarian said. "We didn't want anyone to be at a disadvantage. This is our fault and we didn't want it to affect anyone else."

Slattery said O'Rourke will likely be selected as an at-large senator.

"We encouraged him to apply to the at-large position and we're confident that it'll work out for him," he said. "Obviously he would make a good candidate if he cared about this so much."

Zarian said O'Rourke was on the original candidate list he sent to senior Elliott Wolf, former DSG president and a Chronicle columnist, who wrote the election software last year and uploaded the names onto the Web site.

The apostrophe in O'Rourke's name conflicted with a command in the software, preventing the name from appearing on the ballot, Wolf said. He added that he sent the candidate list to Zarian and Executive Vice President Jordan Giordano, a junior, to be checked over before it was entered into the database.

Both Zarian and Giordano denied having received the list.

But Zarian refrained from pointing any fingers, adding instead that an at-large senate position was effectively the same as being a community interaction senator.

O'Rourke said the apostrophe in his name invalidated any write-in votes he received before he was added to the ballot around noon yesterday. Elections began at 9 a.m. that same day.

"The only fair way to resolve this is to invalidate all the votes cast before my name was on the ballot and make all those people re-vote," O'Rourke told The Chronicle before the outcome was decided.

O'Rourke said both before and after the results, however, that he thought the Election Commission handled the problem swiftly after he notified Zarian of the mistake.

"I realize that problems like this happen a lot and I'm thankful that the Election Commission reacted to it promptly," he said.


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