MTD referendum not certified

A referendum on the March 4-5 student ballot which, if approved, would have raised the student transportation fee from $38 to $50 was not certified by the Student Election Commission, according to the election results available on the commission’s Web site.

The referendum passed by a slim margin, less than 1 percent, but required approval by the commission.

SEC chairman Mike Wilson said the commission could not be sure what the results meant.

“In hindsight, we believe it is possible that students did not understand for what they were voting,” he said in an e-mail to The Daily Illini.

The question made it sound as if the MTD would take the current routes they offer and add additional routes, Wilson added.

The referendum would have altered Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District bus routes and increased late night service.

Members of the University’s Board of Trustee and MTD officials involved with possible changes can “interpret the results as they see fit,” Wilson wrote.

” I think the fact that the vote was as close as it was, even with any confusion, shows that the student body is relatively split on the issue, and therefore, the board of trustees and those in the negotiations should break the tie anyway,” he added.

Keep checking DailyIllini.com for updates as they become available.

The full text of Wilson’s response follows here:

I saw you reported that the SEC chose not to certify the MTD fee, and as the chairman of the SEC, I wanted to give you an explanation as to why we did not do so. Please feel free to include it in any story you write on the subject.

Basically what the SEC’s non-certification of the question means is that we’re not entirely sure what the results mean. While the student body narrowly approved the referendum, in hindsight, we believe that it is possible that students did not understand for what they were voting. The SEC believed that the question as presented made it sound as though MTD would take the current routes they offer and add more to them. However, the DI article on the first day of the election explained that the routes would in fact be redone all together.

From the concerns about the question that have been conveyed to me, the biggest issue is that some service is in fact being lost, and that was not clear in the question. Specifically, according to the plan, the 23W service from the E-14 shuttle lot to much of the southern portion of campus is being eliminated. My friends in the law school have expressed concern about this, as most law students have no other place to park other than E-14, and law students are inherently more likely to drive to school, enhancing the importance of the shuttle service to the law school.

Given that the question was non-binding to begin with, those on the MTD board and the board of trustees have been given the results and may interpret the results as they see fit. I think the fact that the vote was as close as it was, even with any confusion, shows that the student body is relatively split on the issue, and therefore, the board of trustees and those in the negotiations should break the tie anyway.