Student Government: Campaign controversy
A student body presidential candidate’s running mate has filed a complaint with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO), claiming that another campaign defaced and stole her campaign’s flyers.
Vice presidential candidate Ruth Damys said she saw Sarah Greenberg, a campaign supporter for Justin Hall and LaNard Taylor, defacing Randazzo-Damys flyers and replacing them with Hall-Taylor flyers early Tuesday morning after she had placed them at the doorsteps of residents in Monticello Apartments.
“I witnessed them picking up my flyers and putting them in their pockets and tearing them up,” Damys said.
She said she specifically noticed Sarah Greenberg, a freshman majoring in biology and a Hall-Taylor supporter, ripping up flyers.
Greenberg denied Damys’ claims. She said she and other Hall-Taylor supporters were at Monticello that night campaigning.
Because she and the other supporters went on their own initiative and did not tell Hall or Taylor, neither knew the supporters were in Monticello, Greenberg said.
Greenberg said Damys approached her and accused her of ripping up Randazzo-Damys flyers, which Greenberg said she never did and would never do. She also said the confrontation made her very upset.
“I was in tears. I was shaking,” she said.
Greenberg said she plans to file a grievance with the Election Rules Commission (ERC) against the Randazzo-Damys campaign.
Damys said she called the HCSO after witnessing the event and spoke to a deputy. The HCSO confirmed that Damys called at 3:12 a.m. Tuesday.
Damys’ running mate, Nicole Randazzo, said she called Hall soon after the incident to tell him what had happened.
Hall said he was home when he received a call from Randazzo and that she seemed “very upset.”
“She yelled at me, but obviously she was very upset,” he said.
Hall told Randazzo that he and Taylor were not involved.
“Well, you’re campaigners, so you must have something to do with it,” Randazzo told Hall early Tuesday morning.
Randazzo said Taylor claimed he had nothing to do with the situation.
Taylor denied even knowing about the situation when speaking with the Oracle on Tuesday afternoon.
“This is the first time I’m hearing it,” he said.
He said he does not approve of such behavior.
“We had nothing to do with it,” he said. “I definitely don’t support anyone ripping up flyers.”
Hall said he could not imagine that any of his supporters would rip up flyers.
“I honestly don’t believe my volunteers would do something like that,” he said. “I don’t condone any petty practices.”
Candidates criticize each other about mobile polling stationsSeveral student body presidential campaigns are now criticizing one another for setting up mobile polling stations unaffiliated with the ERC.
In the past, polling stations have been criticized for fostering bribes and unduly influencing votes by offering incentives like pizza and telling students whom they should vote for.
Since elections began Tuesday, some candidates and their supporters have set up their own mobile polling stations to get students to vote for student body president.
Randazzo and Damys had a polling station set up outside of Cooper Hall Tuesday.
“Our volunteers have laptops set up, just telling them where to vote,” Damys said. “But we are promoting ourselves as well.”
She and Randazzo handed out lollipops and flyers with their names attached.
Presidential candidate Gregory “Butters” Morgan said that he is not giving his supporters any specific instruction on whether to set up mobile polling stations, but that all the candidates have the option to do it.
“We’re not having it as part of our campaign,” he said. “We’re going on the fact that we have met with thousands of students.”
Taylor said that he and running mate Hall had not planned any mobile polling stations and that the supporters are acting on their own accord.
“Everything was a complete shock to me,” he said. “We said we were staying out of the whole deal.”
Student Government (SG) statutes state that candidates cannot be held responsible for the actions of their supporters if the supporters are acting of their own accord.
Other candidates, however, are discouraging their supporters from setting up mobile polling stations.
Presidential candidate Ryan Iacovacci said his ticket is not setting up any mobile polling stations. His running mate, Sriram Madhusoodanan, said they are discouraging their supporters from setting up mobile polling stations.
“If we see any our supporters, doing it we’re going to tell them to stop,” Madhusoodanan said.
Iacovacci said the issue goes beyond the election.
“A revolution needs to happen, not an election,” he said.
Presidential candidate Nathan Davison said his campaign is not setting up any stations because of last year’s controversy.
“We want to let the students make the decision,” he said.
Cordell Chavis, Davison’s running mate, said he is disappointed other candidates have mobile polling stations.
“I didn’t think they’d do it again when there was such a controversy,” he said.
SG legislation does not allow the ERC to take any direct action against candidates for setting up their own mobile polling stations because there are no rules for or against mobile polling.
“We can’t do anything about it,” said Cassandra Hall, the supervisor of elections and head of the ERC. “The candidates can get away with murder.”
She said she’s not happy about it and hopes there are no problems similar to those of last year. She also said the ERC plans to revise Title 7 – election rules in SG statutes – to create rules for mobile polling.
Polls are open until 7 p.m. Wednesday. Cast your vote at usf.edu/vote.