ASG campaign strategy raises controversy
Students who participated in voting yesterday for the Associated Students’ Government elections may not have realized that they were participating in a ground breaking election.
Traditionally, students are encouraged to vote and computer labs on campus become official polling places. The ballot is located and submitted online.
This year, executive ticket candidates David Fresquez and Allan Chacon along with Steven Titus, candidate for vice president of legislative affairs, developed a unique way to get their names out and draw students to the ballot.
They read the rules in the election code, and noticed a loophole. All day yesterday and until polls close at 4 p.m. today they plan to be out with their personal laptops, asking students to vote.
“Our goal is getting out and meeting students and getting the vote for the entire campus,” Fresquez said.
The election code states, “There will be no campaigning or campaign materials allowed within 30 feet of the computer labs on the day(s) of election,” article 9 section 90.
No place in the election code is any mention of “unofficial” polling places. Because of this, the election commission decided to allow Fresquez, Chacon and Titus to treat their personal computers as a type of mobile unofficial polling location.
“I think the student body needs to know and be outraged about this,” Amanda Cristelli, presidential candidate, said. What they are doing, she said, is no different from McCain or Clinton or Obama handing you your ballot this November and following you to the polls.
Cristelli and her running mate Nathan Pesch have filed an appeal, requesting that the election be called “no contest” which would result in a new election.
The chair of the election commission, Samantha Milyard, is the first step in the appeals process and according to Cristelli their appeal was denied without explanation.
Milyard acknowledges that the candidates came to the commission seeking permission late last week and that they are now operating with the knowledge and consent of the commission, but outside of their jurisdiction.
Because no language in the election code specifically bars this behavior, the commission decided to let creativity reign rather than stifling ambition, Milyard said.
Cristelli charges that their behavior amounts to coercion of voters. The election code is in place to protect the democratic process and she said that these elections are not being conducted in a fair and democratic matter.
Milyard counters that the guys are operating out of the jurisdiction of the commission, but that any of the candidates are welcome to set up unofficial polling places. The other candidates were not informed of this prior to the election, because their actions are described by themselves and Milyard as being a campaign strategy.
Titus states that they are not being officially accused of coercion and that no students seem to be bothered by their actions.
“We are helping bring the vote to students,” Titus said.
Candidates Victoria Watson and Angelina Perez said that they plan to continue conducting their campaign as they have been throughout the election process.
Fresquez said that his goal is to get at least 800 students to vote in this year’s election.