Posters may violate election policies
In an alleged violation of SGA election rules, a number of posters endorsing non-Machine affiliated candidates were posted in residence halls around the University of Alabama campus Monday morning. The posters claimed this year is the 100th anniversary of the Machine and asked students to give the secret organization a break this year.
“Show them you care, and give them this year off,” the poster read. “They shouldn’t have to run SGA by themselves forever.”
Madalyn Vaughn, a senior majoring in accounting and co-chair of the Elections Board, which governs all student elections at The University of Alabama, said fliers like the End The Machine posters constitute a violation of rules.
“That does violate constitutional rules,” Vaughn said. “You can’t use or put campaign materials anywhere in UA housing. That includes all of the residential dorms.”
According to the SGA Elections Manual, candidates are not allowed to distribute campaign materials in on-campus buildings but may post on designated bulletin boards and, as approved, in residence halls.
(See also "Candidates prepare for 2014 SGA elections")
Henry Perkins, a senior majoring in New College; Drew Erny, a sophomore majoring in computer science; Taylor Pierson, a sophomore majoring in management information systems; Stephanie Ray, a junior majoring in international business; and Terrence Lonam, a freshman majoring in philosophy and marketing, all claimed to be involved with either creating and distributing the End The Machine posters, running the Twitter account or creating the website, counterfriction.org. Pierson identified other students as well, who did not respond to The Crimson White before print.
“It was an autonomous group of students acting on the behalf of a more fair campus democracy,” Perkins said. “It was a combination of various students from different organizations, some from the Mallet Assembly, yes, but many from outside of Mallet Assembly working together. UA Stands also was involved, if only slightly.”
Lonam said he believes about five to 10 people were involved with the End The Machine campaign, but no one was able to provide a definitive number.
“We have a lot of people involved in this,” Erny said. “By the nature of the way we’re doing this, we don’t know who all of those people are.”
Vaughn said any SGA candidates who were involved with creating or distributing the posters would be in violation of election rules.
“It’s difficult to say, because we don’t know who did it or what involvement any of the people running had with the names on it, so that’s something we’ll have to investigate,” Vaughn said. “But if they had any involvement in it, obviously it would be a violation, so that’s what we have to determine.”
According to the SGA Elections Manual, candidates are responsible for the actions of anyone campaigning on their behalf.
Justin Thompson, Khortlan Patterson, Chris Simmons and Elliot Spillers, the four candidates endorsed by name on the poster, all said they had no prior knowledge of the campaign. Thompson also said he had not been endorsed by the Machine.
“I got up at 6 o’clock this morning, and when I got to Lloyd around 7, someone ran up to me and handed me one, and that was the first I’d seen of it,” Thompson said.
Hamilton Bloom, a candidate for SGA president, said he has not sought the endorsement of the Machine.
“I have not sought the endorsement or told anyone on my campaign staff to seek the endorsement of any organization that’s not officially recognized by the University,” Bloom said.
Polly Ricketts, a candidate for executive secretary, questioned the truthfulness of the posters.
“I find these fliers to be untrue,” Ricketts said in a statement. “I am unaware of any support by any organization in particular.”
Laura Gregory, a candidate for vice president for academic affairs, said she is running for her position because she cares about SGA and the University of Alabama campus, not because anyone told her to do so.
“My campaign has been personally financed, all of it,” Gregory said. “My parents have supported me.”
Stephen Keller, a candidate for vice president for student affairs, said he hopes all students will support him.
“I actually, as of right now,
only have two public endorsements and those are from Myles Ward, who’s the president of NPHC, and Gregory Poole,” Keller said.
Vaughn said that even if candidates were not aware of the posters beforehand, the students who were involved with creating and distributing them could still face disciplinary action.
“That could go under our fraud section in our manual, tampering with an election, and they would be referred to judicial affairs,” Vaughn said.
Ray, Lonam and Erny said they did not believe their actions constituted a violation of election rules.
“We didn’t intentionally break any election rules and don’t believe that our actions constituted fraud,” Lonam said. “We’d be happy to discuss this with the Elections Board, and we take full responsibility for our actions.”
Erny said he reviewed election rules beforehand and believes he was within his rights to free speech.
“My understanding of the elections manual, which I did read, did not say anything about distributing materials,” Erny said. “There are clauses in there about providing incentives to vote or intimidating people into voting or otherwise attempting to defraud voters. But under my understanding of the rules, that is absolutely not a violation, to exercise my right to free speech.”
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