Confusion surrounds election violation allegations
Complaints filed against three of the four candidates running for student body president are mostly requests for “rule clarifications,” according to the election commissioner and adviser to Student Government.
The allegations stem from reports made by students to the Student Government election commission and not from incidents witnessed by the commission.
Election commissioner Jacob Butterfield said he has not personally received any complaints or violation allegations against candidate and current vice president Steven Cole or anyone in his campaign.
Adviser to Student Government Perry Francis said that the commission will only act on issues that come to the commission’s attention in writing with a name attached to the complaint or allegation.
“We want a paper trail,” Francis said. “A paper trail creates concrete content versus ‘well that’s not what I said.’”
- Lobby table agreement - PDF
Butterfield and Francis said that while complaints and allegations have been filed, it is not a large-scale issue at this time. They both estimated that they have received about six official complaints.
A majority of the complaints regard violation of election policy by approaching students in the Student Center with literature or information regarding their campaign. The election commission is still working to obtain the exact wording of this Student Center policy.
“Most of anything that’s occurred has been questioning the Student Center policy or you know, ‘can we step out in front of the table and hand out fliers, what is the policy there?’” Butterfield said. “Unfortunately, it’s been very difficult to find anything in writing.”
Francis said the current understanding of the Student Center policy is that one must be registered at a lobby table to hand out anything at all to students, however outside of the first floor lobby table area the rule is more unclear, and that is something the election commission is prepared to deal with.
“It is our goal to ensure a fair election not just for the candidates, but for the student body and to balance the rights of the student body not to be accosted as well as the rights of the candidates to say ‘I’m running, please vote for me,’” Francis said.
According to the Student Center’s lobby table reservation agreement, one must be registered at a lobby table in order to pass out information, and even registered individuals must wait for people to approach them before handing out information.
The policy states: "Distribution by means involving shouting, yelling, or physically approaching individuals is prohibited, as is any interference with normal functions or interruption of the free flow of traffic."
A full copy of the lobby table agreement is attached to this story.
A Student Center employee indicated that this rule applies to the entire Student Center, and passing out information outside of the designated lobby table area is prohibited.
Sabrina Ford and her campaign are not accused of breaking this particular rule, Butterfield said, however her poll manager was accused of being too close to a voter while they were casting their ballot.
At this time, no sanctions have been handed down to any of the candidates.
“Jacob sent out an email, clarifying with everybody what the expectations were and at this point, there has been no further action by the election commission,” Francis said.
Election results are scheduled to be released at 9 p.m. Thursday. The Echo will provide up-to-date information regarding the election until a winner is named.