‘We have a tie’

By Gus Bode

Tense silence turned to screams, hugs and cries of “Oh my God!” as Election Commissioner John Teresi declared Wednesday that Undergraduate Student Government presidential candidates Chiquita Watts and Dave Loftus tied with 473 votes each.

Roughly 50 candidates and supporters waited in the Student Center until 9:30 p.m. to hear the election results, which Teresi read while standing on a coffee table in the USG office.

“Is this some kind of late April fools’ joke?” asked Vincent Hardy, who was Watts’ vice presidential candidate.

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“I wish it was,” responded Teresi, who has to organize another election sometime in the next few weeks according to USG constitutional rules.

But moments later, the friction reappeared.

Watts and Loftus said they believed the election was run poorly and the votes should be hand-counted by Teresi and the rest of the election commission.

Other results were clearer.

USG president Demetrous White won student trustee, beating fellow candidates Dylan Burns and Josh Garrison by a margin of more than 50 votes. White said he felt vindicated that students still believed in him and were not blinded by what he said were the “dirty politics” of Burns.

Students voted overwhelmingly in support of the proposed $10 “green” fee for environmental sustainability. Katie Thomas, a junior from Fort Collins, Colo., studying political science, said she planned to celebrate by doing the homework she had put off for the past three weeks to campaign for the fee.

Watts and Loftus were not alone in their concerns about the validity of the election results.

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Thomas said she witnessed multiple candidates campaigning too close to the polling places and even escorting voters to pick up their ballots. Thomas said she would not implicate anyone by name, but was most frustrated with how poorly the elections were run.

She said multiple students told her they voted two or three times in Lentz Hall while the computer system to scan student IDs did not work.

Teresi said election workers in Lentz Hall recorded students’ ID numbers on paper, and no one was allowed to vote more than once. Teresi is set to receive $800 for his role as election commissioner.

Josh Whalen, an undecided freshman from Oswego, worked at the Student Center polls Wednesday. Whalen said election commission member Ed Ford stood next to him at the polling place and suggested students should not vote for the “green” fee.

Thomas said Ford, a graduate student from Carbondale, told students windmills kill birds and the “green” fee would be hijacked by university administration. Ford declined comment.

Whalen said many students to whom he gave ballots were confused about how to vote.

“This page right here, they have no idea what to do with it,” Whalen said, indicating the area on which students voted for USG senators. Whalen then said he had not read that portion of the ballot himself.

Graduate student Jeena Jones said she was not only allowed but encouraged to fill out the wrong ballot.

Jones, a first year graduate student from the Caribbean studying economics, said she was given ballots for USG elections even though an election worker in the Student Center knew she was a graduate student.

She said she told the election worker she didn’t think she was allowed to vote for USG officers because of her graduate status, but was told to fill out the ballot anyway. Jones said the experience made her believe the system was flawed.

“I don’t think it’s up to par, personally,” Jones said. “Anyone could just walk up to the table, pick the papers up, vote and just stick it in the pile.”

Allison Petty can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 259 or [email protected]

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