If you’re going to bribe voters, never admit it’s a bribe. If you’re going to intimidate voters, never admit you behavior is intimidating.
Above all, always remember that responsibility for malfeasant behavior has to start at the bottom and work its way up.
That isn’t a quote from the campaign literature for the Barclay Harless/Garin Flowers ticket for student body president, but it might as well be.
As polling stations for the elections were being set up around campus Tuesday, an ambitious venture in voter intimidation was being set up at the same time: Free pizza – the purchaser of which is apparently unknown by everyone involved – was delivered to voters by students wearing Harless/Flowers campaign T-shirts right at polling stations.
Needless to say, the bribes weren’t bribes. Some of the students handing out pizza to whom the Oracle spoke preferred to say they were giving back to Student Government for everything it has done for the University.
Of course it wasn’t a bribe: It was a “gratuity.”
The intimidation wasn’t intimidating, either. The Harless/Flowers campaign enthusiasts who helped students input their University identification numbers, took them to the polling station and stood in close proximity – backs turned – to voters while they voted weren’t intimidating anyone.
Well, maybe they were: The person to whom the Oracle spoke didn’t even deny it was intimidation. The excuse for that was even more transparent than the one for the pizza: Voting is intimidating, and things like this happen all the time.
That’s not a theory likely to be proven wrong, considering the notable absence of the Election Rules Commission (ERC) in this election. But even that absence isn’t a matter of corruption or lack of oversight – it’s because Supervisor of Elections Devin Lee changed the election rules this year to make sure candidates wouldn’t be prohibited from operating their own polling stations.
This is contrary to how David Armstrong, director of SG administrative services, thought polling stations should be operated. Armstrong, by the way, thought the independent polling stations themselves were a bad idea.
It would seem he was proven right, now that the Harless/Flowers campaign has flagrantly violated any sense of electoral fairness, as well as a significant number of the election rules used in practically every election lucky enough to not be run by SG. But the air of impropriety – indeed, electoral intimidation – isn’t really a surprise anymore: It wasn’t that different last year.
Frankly, it’s enough to make even University Lecture Series speaker and former mob boss Michael Franzese blush.