Today is the last opportunity for students to cast their vote for either Sarah Pollei or Brian Goff to be the next student body president, but campaign violations could play a role in the outcome.
James Bodden, supervisor of elections for Student Government’s Election Rules Committee (ERC) said each candidate has received a minor violation. Goff, a junior majoring in biochemistry, received one Feb. 22 for posting a Facebook photo with the USF Sun Dolls, as it is a violation to place endorsements from “USF figures” on campaign materials. Pollei, a junior majoring in biology, received a minor violation Monday for uploaded a campaign video to Facebook 10 minutes prior to the official start of campaigning Feb. 12 at midnight.
If either candidate collects two more minor violations or a single major violation, Bodden said they will be out of the race.
“A minor violation is simply something less significant,” he said. “Maybe they wore their T-shirts close to a polling station or – you can’t campaign within 50 feet of a polling station and they were within 49 – something without malicious intent.”
Bodden said examples of major violations include acts such as bribery, tampering with the voting software, tearing down another candidate’s campaign materials or anything involving an act of violence against another candidate.
Pollei said she was surprised by her minor violation because although her video was uploaded too soon, it did not publish until after the allowed period for campaigning had begun.
“It was put up on the Facebook post,” she said. “But the page was not published until 12:02 a.m. No one saw it besides myself and the person who created it.”
With the voting process ending today, she said it would be a waste of time to appeal the decision.
In defense of his violation for posing with the Sun Dolls, Goff said his girlfriend is a Sun Doll and she and her teammates had asked him for the photo.
“I didn’t even think to look into it,” he said. “For me they are students first. If we can use Greek organizations to endorse us, why not the Sun Dolls?”
Goff said the photo was taken down since the grievance was filed on Feb. 17 by Christopher Cano, a former presidential candidate and a graduate student studying public administration.
If any further grievances are filed and upheld, election results may become suspended until a resolution is reached.
“We’ve never dealt with a situation where someone got kicked out during a runoff,” Bodden said. “It’s not a scenario we have encountered before. I don’t know if the candidate who placed third in the general election would be moved up and we’d do the runoff over again, or if we would have to run the general election over again.”
In preparation, Bodden said he is “covering all his bases.”
The ERC assigned Cano a minor violation Monday for campaigning within 50 feet of a polling station, even though he already lost the election with a fourth-place finish, because the ERC could decide to move the next highest vote-getters up to a runoff or redo the general election if Pollei and Goff accumulate enough violations to be tossed.
Thus far, about 1,800 students have voted in the runoff election, Bodden said. Voting results for the runoff will be announced tonight at Movies on the Lawn at 8:30.