Hundreds of international students were robbed of their right to vote in a recent student election at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), an investigation revealed.
According to the university’s Student Justice Coalition (SJC), at least 450 students failed to cast their votes in the Spring 2019 election, encountering errors that resulted in incomplete ballots or prevented them from voting altogether.
The election, which ran over a two-day period in April, was conducted electronically through the university’s website in April. It sought a Student Representative for the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, the Undergraduate Student Government President and Vice President, Undergraduate Student Government Representatives, members of the Student Senate and a referendum on student fees.
Hours after the election had opened, the Dean of Students Office stated that the issues were resolved. However, the same problems reportedly persisted throughout the election, primarily affecting international students and those in the UIC Global program.
Following the election, both candidates and concerned students met to discuss the situation and formed a coalition to conduct an investigation.
The probe, which involved meetings with administrators, information requests and student interviews, found gross negligence in the election process.
“It has been found that the process is unconstitutional according to the Undergraduate Student Government Constitution,” the SJC wrote. “The election does not reflect a free and fair democratic process.”
“Furthermore, the process lacked an open process of judicial review to address issues. It is because of this that we conclude that the UIC April 2019 Student Election and its results are illegitimate.”
The Dean of Students Office, which allegedly downplayed the situation in initial meetings, eventually confirmed voter disenfranchisement.
“There are no restrictions in place that state non-degree seeking students cannot vote in the UIC Elections. In fact, non-degree seeking students were able to vote for Trustee and Referendum in the Spring 2019 elections. We discovered that in the University student system, Banner, the coding of non-degree students did not allow them to vote for the Undergraduate Student Government and Student Senate positions.”
The office said that 48 non-degree, UIC Global students attempted to vote in the elections.
“In the future, a correction will be made to allow undergraduate non-degree students to vote for all positions on the ballot.”
The SJC claimed that the disenfranchisement of international students “harms a group that has historically had issues with the University of Illinois System which has been accused of profiteering off of these students.”
“This is a student rights issue, such disregard for democratic principles is especially dangerous in a time when our nation is being shaken by rampant voter disenfranchisement,” it added.
The coalition is now calling for the campus administration to take action. Anyone willing to help can sign this petition.
Featured Images via UIC Student Justice Coalition