University retains outside firm to count ballots in Corporation race

The University has retained an outside company to count the ballots in the Yale Corporation election between the Rev. W. David Lee DIV ’93 and Maya Lin ’81 ARC ’86, marking yet another first for this year’s contentious election.

In a letter sent to University Secretary Linda Lorimer yesterday, Dwight Hall’s leadership offered its services as another neutral third-party observer during tabulation of the ballots, but University officials said they have already taken sufficient measures to ensure the legitimacy of the election results by hiring Mellon Investor Services.

Lorimer said that while she appreciates Dwight Hall’s offer, she plans to certify the company’s count with two impartial leaders of the Yale community with “impeccable credentials.”

Harry Adams, a former University chaplain who is also a retired member of the Divinity School faculty and a former residential college master, and Jose Cabranes — a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals, a New Haven resident, and a former member of the Yale Corporation — will join Lorimer in certifying the results at Mellon Investor Services’ headquarters in Ridgefield Park, N.J.

Lee said he had no opinion regarding Yale’s decision to use an outside contractor to count the ballots.

“That’s their call. I’m not even thinking about it right now,” Lee said, adding that he is just waiting for May 26, the final day of voting. “If that’s what they feel is best, they are in charge. At this point, it’s out of my hands.”

Dwight Hall Co-Coordinator Casey Pitts ’03 said Dwight Hall decided to write the letter to Lorimer because of concerns about how Yale-New Haven relations might suffer if there is a demand for a recount. Another neutral observer, Pitts said, would ensure that “whatever the results were, those are the results.”

“We certainly don’t distrust the University, but another extra neutral observer will make things more sure,” he said.

Dwight Hall Executive Committee member Erin Scharff ’04 presented the idea of volunteering Dwight Hall as a neutral observer during a recent Executive Committee meeting. Co-coordinators Pitts and Louise Davis ’03 signed the letter, which Lorimer received yesterday.

“Because we’re neutral and because we have ties to Yale and to the community, we’re in the perfect position to volunteer as neutral observers,” Scharff said.

The Dwight Hall cabinet voted unanimously in late March to abstain from endorsing either Corporation candidate. In the letter to Lorimer, the Dwight Hall co-coordinators pointed to this as evidence of Dwight Hall’s neutrality.

“The key is that Dwight Hall decided to remain neutral, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a stake in the community and a stake in Yale,” Scharff said. “[The cabinet] didn’t make the decision that the election wasn’t important. They made the decision that Dwight Hall wasn’t an appropriate institution to be endorsing candidates.”

Yale President Richard Levin said speculation that the University would improperly handle the ballot counting was “ridiculous.”

Lorimer said that historically the ballots were sent to Yale’s Alumni Records Office for tabulation and that, because of the extra attention this year, the University decided to employ “an individual company who is expert in the counting of votes.” She said she decided before Christmas to employ an outside firm.

“This is really the University going the extra mile,” Lorimer said, adding that she has full confidence in the voting process that occurred in previous years but that this year necessitated change. “This is a sophisticated election in which we have a hundred thousand voters and we have chosen tellers who are experts in doing this.”

Mellon Investment Services provides “proxy tabulation” services for numerous corporations.

“This is completely impartial and has no connection to the Mellon family or any particular Yale ties,” Levin said. “It makes its reputation on providing this service in a neutral and impartial way.”

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