Candidates demand recount

By Gus Bode

Chiquita Watts and Dave Loftus waited in the Undergraduate Student Government office for two hours to learn the results of student elections Wednesday night.

Less than 24 hours later, the USG presidential candidates found themselves there again after the results showed a tie of 473 votes each.

“Both parties are tired and exhausted from their endless efforts,” said Turner, who added that the election and other commitments had kept him awake for the past 72 hours.

Advertisement

Watts and Loftus, along with running mates Vincent Hardy and Steven Turner, showed up at 4:30 p.m. Thursday for what they thought would be a hand-count of the 946 USG ballots. But Election Commissioner John Teresi was not there.

The commissioner’s absence added to a list of frustrations shared by many of the candidates in USG and student trustee elections.

Teresi said he received a written request for a recount, but never agreed to a time and did not know why the candidates believed he would be present.

He said he received five or fewer written grievances from candidates who said the elections were poorly run and poll workers were incompetent.

“Hindsight is 20/20 on everything,” Teresi said. “We obviously needed to take an extra step to train (the poll workers), so that’s the fault on our end.”

Loftus, a sophomore from Princeton studying political science, said he caught the same poll worker sleeping on two separate occasions.

“Common sense says it helped our opponents,” Loftus said. “I do feel cheated.”

Advertisement

Some doubt also exists as to whether the election followed USG constitutional rules.

According to the constitution, only enrolled undergraduates are allowed to serve on the election commission. But this year, three of the commission’s members are graduate students.

Teresi said he received the appointments from Graduate and Professional Student Council President Steven Middleton and had no reason to question their constitutionality. He added that the council has always included graduate students in the past.

USG Vice President Candace Fletcher submitted an amendment to the constitution Wednesday night to extend the qualifications and allow all enrolled students to serve on the council. But the measure could not pass because vice presidents are not allowed to submit amendments and amendments must appear before the senate one meeting before they come to a vote.

USG President and student trustee elect Demetrous White said he did not think the election council was unconstitutional, but Loftus said he thought the presence of graduate students violated the rules. Loftus said he should have raised his concerns earlier.

Student trustee election results were less controversial.

White, a senior from Chicago studying psychology, said he was excited and relaxed after winning student trustee by a margin of more than 50 votes. He said he would be happy to work with the losing candidates, Josh Garrison and Dylan Burns, in the future.

But he said his personal relationship with Burns was destroyed because of the elections, during which Burns public accused White of favoritism toward Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., in USG funding matters.

“Is he a friend of mine? No,” White said. “It doesn’t win to play dirty.”

Burns, a junior from Springfield studying history, said he was not as disappointed about losing the election as he was about a senate meeting Wednesday night at which colleagues attacked him for the allegations against White.

“I wanted someone to have my back. I wanted someone to say, ‘You know what, I think what Dylan did was right,'” Burns said. “You can’t reform the system if nobody wants to do it other than me.”

Garrison, a second year law student from Carlinville, said he thought neither of the candidates had clean hands, but he was not surprised at his loss.

He said the elections had been run poorly, the council was thrown together and the entire process was against the constitution. But Garrison said he believed he lost because of his campaign, not any inadequacy in the process.

“I think this is a testament to why student government elections need to be moved online,” Garrison said.

Teresi must organize a run-off election between the Watts/Hardy and Loftus/Turner tickets within a week, according to the USG constitution. He said he and the election commission would recount the ballots before proceeding.

Watts and Loftus said they were gearing up for the next campaign. Watts, a junior from Chicago studying finance, said she had a message for students.

“Now you see that every vote counts,” she said.

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

Advertisement