The Elections Supervisory Committee (ESC) has already played a prominent role in this year’s campaign for College Council (CC) offieces, which officially began last Sunday at midnight. The ESC has met several times and issued its first ruling to suspend one ticket from campaigning for three days.
The committee issued a three-day suspension to the campaign of Phil Swisher ’01 and Felton Booker ’01, who are running for the office of co-president, after several meetings with the candidates preceding the onset of campaigning Sunday night.
Although members of the ESC did not want to discuss details of their decision until reporting to CC on Wednesday, the Record has learned that there were several issues that the committee based its decision on in regards to the Swisher/Booker campaign. During the ESC meeting, the Booker/Swisher campaign was accused of fabricating data in a poll that was allegedly taken in a general attempt to discourage Rob MacDougall ’01 and Brendan Quinn ’02 from running for the co-presidency before the nominations were made.
In response to the accusation Swisher told the Record, “With the issues in question I did make a mistake. I put a date onto the wrong template so it appeared as though a poll had been taken. It was an oversight on my part, one that I sincerely regret. There was no poll taken, I’d like to underscore this point.
“The rest of the allegations are unfounded,” he continued. “We did not mislead anyone. We’ve been totally forthcoming when asked direct questions. We’ve done our best to accommodate every request, which the Election Advisory Committee has asked of us as quickly as possible. We have been completely honest with them and the allegations are very unfair and are not accurate.”
Swisher also expressed a more general concern for the ESC and their investigative processes. “The most disturbing part is that the Elections Supervisory Committee is a five-person committee and since everything is done by a majority vote, three people have absolute power over the elections process,” he said. “This is the only decision made on this campus that has no appeals process…every committee that imposes sanctions needs to have an independent appeals process as a check on its power and out of fairness for the process.”
Booker echoed similar sentiments expressing his desire that the process be kept as fair as possible. “I think it is important to understand the frustrations that Phil and I have about the process, this is very much about maintaining the integrity of the selection system,” he said. “The damage has been done to our campaign, the delay has happened and we have abided by the Committee’s decision and haven’t been campaigning. What is most important for us is that this doesn’t happen to other people.”
“The race is minor compared to an attack on my integrity and on Felton’s integrity,” Swisher said. “If you don’t have integrity than you have nothing.”
The Booker/Swisher ticket is not allowed to distribute campaign materials until Wednesday at midnight.
The other candidates in this year’s CC co-president election are the ticket of Ami Parekh ’01 and Todd Rogers ’01 and the ticket of Jon Wiener ’02 and Seth Behrends ’02.
According to the College Council Bylaws, the ESC “will ensure that the campus-wide elections are free and fair and will be responsible for overseeing all campaign rules.” The ESC is composed of five voting members, including Reed Wiedower ’00, who was selected to be the chair, and the two current CC co-presidents who serve as ex officio non-voting members. The Committee has the power to suspend campaigning and disqualify candidates in the case of grave violations to the campaigning rules set forth in the bylaws.
The ESC emerged in the wake of last year’s election for co-president, when issues were raised about the legitimacy of having the outgoing CC co-presidents administer the elections. In last year’s election, the outgoing co-presidents sent an all-campus mailing using the CC letterhead the day of the election lambasting then-candidate Wiedower for accusations that he made during what turned out to be a failed bid for the presidency.
Wiedower serves on the ESC with Kristin Wikelius ’01, Ivelina Borisova ’02, Dorian Baker ’01 and Christopher Abbott ’03 to serve on the ESC. The Committee also includes current CC co-presidents Bert Leatherman ’00 and Medha Kirtane ’00.
Wikelius stressed her feeling that the ESC is an essential part of the election process. “It is important to have a body that people can feel comfortable with, and I encourage people to make use of us and bring up any questions.”
The ESC will make its presentation at CC’s weekly meeting on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Baxter Lounge.