Written by Sarah Kyle
For the first time in at least 15 years, a presidential candidate has contested the results of a Harding University Student Association election.
Nathan Dullnig, a current Harding junior and presidential candidate for the SA, chose to formally contest the April 1st election in a meeting Monday, April 6, on grounds of technical difficulties with the voting process, as well as alleged politicking by the other two candidates, Sky Vanderburg and Bryan Clifton.
“My objection is not to how I finished in the election, but rather to how it was carried out,” Dullnig said. “If there were to be a second vote, and I were to yet again lose, then that would be acceptable. What is not acceptable, I believe, is when every student is not provided with their inherent right to vote for their representative.”
Dullnig listed voting difficulties as a significant reason for contesting the election, stating that every student is technically an active member of the SA according to the constitution’s second article and therefore should be granted his or her right to vote.
Junior Pete Davidson, who agreed with Dullnig, said that if even one student were not provided with the ability to vote, a contest would be warranted.
SA Vice President Megan Reese said she was sincerely sorry for the voting problems that occurred, but assured the student body that the problems resulted purely from technological difficulties.
“It was never our intention to deny anyone the right to vote,” Reese said. “I understand that it’s not fair that they didn’t get the right to vote. I just want you to know that the SA never intended for any shadiness or not-openness or any bad faith with anyone to occur. There was never any mal-intent. It was all good and pure.”
Current SA President Michael Crouch responded to similar statements of bad faith by the presidential candidates, particularly those stating that the SA favored the administration over the student body and as such was not open to the average student.
“We’re trying to be as responsible as we can, to make sure that we take care of this matter in the most efficient and fair way that we can. That’s why we’re having this meeting today,” Crouch said. “We planned on having it the very moment Nathan contested. We wanted to be open about this, and we want everyone to be a part of this.”
Crouch went on to remind the student body that every SA meeting is open to any student who may choose to come and that suggestions by the student body to the SA would always be given consideration.
Also mentioned was alleged politicking by Vanderburg and Clifton. Dullnig said that while he does not contest electronic voting, he does believe that it should abide by the same constitutional laws that apply to paper ballots.
According to section 6 of the constitution’s bi-laws, it is stated that no politicking should take place in voting areas.
“I know that every computer cannot be monitored,” Dullnig said. “But I believe that the actions of the other two candidates of sitting in the student center with their laptops open, extorting people to vote, is a violation of this rule.”
Crouch said he appreciated for Dullnig’s contest, which he said was carried out in a professional and appropriate manner.
“Whatever happens today, Nathan, you have proven yourself to be a man of good character and we appreciate that,” Crouch said. “I think that we will weigh what you’ve had to say today quite favorably with respect and truthfulness.”
After deliberation, the SA decided to host a complete reelection after Dullnig’s contest of the April 1st SA Presidential election. All three presidential candidates will speak in chapel Tuesday, April 7, answering a selection of questions from the student body. Reese, who is the election chairwoman, will monitor the forum.
The re-election will be conducted via a link on Pipeline’s home page Wednesday, April 8.