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Official: Complaints filed against both UISG parties over voting

BY ANNA THEODOSIS | APRIL 18, 2012 6:30 AM

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Accusations from both parties of the recent University of Iowa Student Government elections have prompted students and UISG members to consider changes to the election code.

UI freshman Eric Mortensen said I Party President-elect Nic Pottebaum and other supporters went to his and other students' dorm rooms April 4 and instructed them on how to vote in UISG elections, suggesting they vote for the I Party as well.

"They gave their spiel about how they were in the party and had us log into ISIS," said Mortensen, who wrote a letter to the editor on his concerns to The Daily Iowan. "I heard 'while you're at it, vote for the I Party,' and that upset me."

Pottebam and I Party Vice President-elect Jessie Tobin declined to comment on the accusations.

"Honestly, it's just such an inaccurate letter; we don't want to make a comment on it," Tobin said. "We said from Day One that we need to get started [on our platform issues], and this shouldn't get in the way."

However, Student Elections Board Commissioner Patrick Grim said members of both the I Party and the # (Hashtag) Party filed complaints — written by student voters — against the opposing party during the voting period.

Grim said both parties were accused of using laptops and directly assisting voters.

"There were other complaints filed for other things in addition to soliciting votes," Grim said, who was unable to disclose the specifics.

Sunny Kothari, # Party presidential candidate, said he and Vice President counterpart Nick Rolston filed their party's complaints because they thought it could be a prospective violation of the election code.

"We got a lot of complaints about the I Party going to residence halls with laptops and having people vote," Kothari said. "We thought it sounded like it was against the rules."

Grim, a UI senior, said charges such as these are not unusual.

"Typically, every year you get complaints filed," he said. "Especially in a contested election."

However, Grim said, both parties dropped their charges while he was investigating them because of a lack of evidence.

Both Kothari and Rolston expressed concerns over the election code's clarity — it was developed, Rolston said, before UISG voting was moved online.

"There are a lot of ambiguities [in the code]. There's a lot of room for interpretation," Rolston said. "I really don't see it as whiny politicians, but I really feel it's based on the fact that we have this ambiguity in the code."

Currently, the UISG election code prohibits campaigning or placing campaign material — including wearing T-shirts — within the view of a polling place during voting.

Grim said some parts of the current code haven't been updated since voting switched to ISIS, causing some confusion over when offenses could have occurred.

Grim said he will consider changing the code in light of both parties' complaints.

"We're definitely going to be looking into revising the code," he said. "I don't know what revisions are going to be made."

Tom Rocklin, UI vice president for Student Life, said he was aware of the investigation and trusts UISG members to do their job.

"This is a matter that student government handles on its own," he said. "I trust them to follow the policies appropriately."


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