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Patel's brother promises voting incentive to Greeks

BY KRISTEN EAST | OCTOBER 31, 2011 7:20 AM

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University of Iowa fraternities and sororities may have a larger incentive to vote in the upcoming Iowa City City Council election.

Ravi Patel, Raj Patel's brother, has promised to pledge $1 to each chapter's respective philanthropy for every voter registration form completed.

Raj Patel is running for the at-large position on City Council against three others.

"I've just always believed in the importance of a philanthropic contribution," Ravi Patel told The Daily Iowan on Sunday. "I was involved in a business fraternity, and I understand how important it is to raise money for their various causes. I look forward to the community and the students alike exercising their right to vote."

Ravi Patel, a UI graduate and executive vice president of Hawkeye Hotels, declined to comment further.

Raj Patel said he didn't talk to his brother at all about the voting incentive.

"That's something he decided," he said. "He thinks it's important for students to come out and vote."
Frederick Boehmke, a UI associate professor of political science, said he doesn't believe there's anything illegal about using charitable donations as an incentive to vote.

"It is certainly unusual," he said. "Certainly it's illegal to pay someone to register to vote, but here the payment isn't to the individual. The donation could be viewed as charitable. A different way to look at it is that it is legal to pay someone to go out and register people."

No other Iowa City City Council candidates have similar voting-incentive campaigns.

Michael Charles, Patel's campaign manager, said the candidate visited around seven chapters before the Oct. 11 primary, and he plans to visit "as many as he can" before the general election on Nov. 8.

"You can't possibly get to all [39] meetings before the elections," Charles said, noting that most chapter meetings occur on Sunday or Monday nights.

Alpha Chi Omega President Traci Bauer said sorority members were interested and enthusiastic when Raj visited their house last week. Approximately 50 Alpha Chi Omega sisters completed voter-registration forms.

"It makes it easy for students to vote and be educated about the process," Bauer said. "It seems like he's actually interested in the students' well-being at the University of Iowa."

Though speaking with sororities and fraternities is important, Charles said, the campaign has focused more on knocking on doors and reaching out to student organizations.

"The use of technology and on- and off-campus door-knocking has been just as successful, if not more, than reaching out to sororities and fraternities," Charles said. "[The campaign] has been more different than any other candidate who has ever run before."


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