The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 51.0°F | A Few Clouds

Postering Violations Taint UA Elections

By Mike Hall

Allegations of poster tampering in the Undergraduate Association Presidential campaign surfaced this weekend, forcing the UA Election Commission to take steps to restrict postering.

Citing “shady happenings of late,” UA Election Commissioner Zhelinrentice L. Scott ’01 banned all campaign posters on main campus. Scott said that the Election Commission was “disappointed in those candidates who have been engaging in illegal activity.”

Scott was firm in maintaining the integrity of the campaign. If a candidate were found guilty of poster tampering Scott said that she “would have to take them off the ballot.”

Posters allegedly altered

UA Vice Presidential candidate Jason H. Wasfy ’01, running with Jennifer C. Berk ’01, cited one example of possible poster tampering against his campaign. After placing one of his ticket’s posters directly over an older version on a public board, Wasfy discovered that the top poster had been moved to expose the bottom poster.

“I’m not accusing anyone of anything, but it seems a little bit fishy,” Wasfy said.

Under UA election laws, candidates are only allowed one poster per bulletin board.

Christopher R. Rezek ’99, chairman of the UA Nominations Committee and a supporter of the Peter A. Shulman ’01, Mendel Chuang ’02 ticket, also noted a possible violation.

“After the VP debate I went up to the UA office, and when I came back down 30 minutes later I saw a poster that had obviously been moved to create a double-poster violation,” said Rezek, adding that the poster was ripped where staples had previously been and a single thumbtack held it in place.

Candidates had varying opinions of Scott’s decision. “Under the circumstances, I think she did the right thing,” said UAP candidate Peter A. Shulman ’01.

UAP candidate Christopher D. Smith ’01 was more critical of Scott’s decision. Smith said that he might not have made the same decision if here were in Scott’s position, “but I’m not going to contest it.”

All candidates expressed disappointment at the possibility of tampering.

Berk called the events leading up to the restriction “really sad ... I was hoping for a clean election, especially because of the fiasco at Harvard this year.” Harvard’s newly elected student president was nearly impeached over alleged campaign finance violations earlier this year.

UAP candidate Sanjay K. Rao ’02 lamented the loss of postering rights. “It’s too bad because I wanted to see a huge voter turnout this year,” Rao said. He thought that turnout would decrease without posters on campus

Candidates look for alternatives

Without posters on much of campus, candidates now must turn to new means of campaigning.

Rao’s running mate, Brian A. Pasquinelli ’02, said that their campaign will now increase postering in dormitories and FSILGs, which is still permissible under election commission regulations.

Shulman’s running mate, Mendel Chuang ’02, said that the ticket “plans to use other means of publicity, including flyers.”

Shulman added that their campaign will continue “relying on word-of-mouth.”

The UA is planning to assist candidates in campaign promotion. In addition to placing non-partisan posters throughout main campus encouraging undergraduates to vote, Election Commission member Sarah L. McDougal ’00 said that the UA is also considering sponsoring another candidate debate and placing campaign posters in display cases to prevent further tampering.

Smith’s JudBoard role questioned

Allegations of tampering have raised concerns that the election may be contested. If so, jurisdiction over the election could go to the UA Judicial Board, chaired by UAP candidate Smith.

Early in the campaign, Smith addressed a letter to the UA Council in which he guaranteed to recuse himself in the event that an election conflict came to the Board, with his input going into the selection of a substitute chairman. Smith declined to step down from the Board or to take a leave of absence during the election.

Rao criticized Smith’s decision, arguing that candidates should not preside over the election process. Wasfy expressed concern that Smith would be able to “hand-pick” his substitute chairman.

Smith defended his decision, saying, “I would feel ... derelict of duty if I were to drop [the Board] just because of an election.”

Scott supported Smith, saying that he would maintain the election’s integrity.

“He’s not going to affect the process in his favor,” Scott added.