Thursday, March 15, 2007

Voter Boards

Well I invited a few people to "opine," usually that's fancy-talk, but scroll down for Pedro's stuff, it's very white collar. Gavin's stuff on the other hand is very meat(though I'm vegetarian) and potatoes - my kind of leader.

This whole issue is spiraling out of control. I don't believe JCB wants to keep Passman from office, rather, I believe he filed this case to establish legal precedents. Obviously the stickers hurt Greek turnout even if they were helping people out of doing something they arguably didn't want to do. Listen, if you get your Gator1, you go to the polling precinct, you make time in your day to vote and someone hands you a blank sticker, the same sticker a poll-worker would and you don't vote, then you clearly had no connection to the candidate(s), you weren't there because you believed in them, you were there under or orders or fear of reprisals, which like vote suppression is also punishable under the law.

Show These To The Courts ----- Voter Boards

I hope those justices realize that they will be held accountable for their decisions.

From Fmr. Senator Pedro Morales (TR comments in ywllow).

Hi Christian:

I don't think Alan Passman should be disqualified. I sent him a facebook message already congratulating him on his election and looking forward to seeing him work as any other member of the student senate. I don't know what the verdict is on this, but I hope that Senator-elect Passman does get to represent graduate students.

I think the idea of the I-Voted-Stickers would have worked as an effective message if the stickers would have had the Pd. Pol. Ad. It would have been inside the rules, and at the same time, negated the stickers' apparent value to voting boards of student organizations. I agree with the opinion that the "I Voted" stickers as Pants' protest of SG, hence confirming that "SG Sucks". Especially because they were handed out by Pants Party supporters. This is not part of the definition of "campaigning" but I wouldn't expect an individual wearing an Impact shirt to give me a Progress flier or to convince me of Gator '05. So when someone wearing the shirt gives out some material, it is implicitly in support for his or her party, and hence the material should have had the Pd. Pol. Ad, because the conversation that surrounded the giving of the sticker was probably campaign conversation.

Now, if I had a Pants shirt, and I was meeting with my classmates to discuss some homework problems, I am obviously not campaigning. Computational complexity theory is not campaign or political speech. So if I find a resource online and printed a copy for the group, it does not need Pd. Pol. Ad. The act of me giving out this academic information in no way influences them to vote for Pants or whoever. So, in context, the stickers are campaign material and the EC had the authority to issue the C&D. The parties implicitly signed the agreement to compete according to the rules; and because those rules give the Elections Commission the authority to hear those complaints.

If Dan Fitzpatrick, his minions or the Toga Party members would be handing out the stickers, it would be different. They are obviously protest groups; and they totally have the right to express their beliefs. When Pants decided to engage in the competition, it agreed to engage in the rules of the game. The minions and the toga group did not have to comply with said rules.


Pedro's "I wouldn't expect an individual wearing an Impact shirt to give me a Progress flier or to convince me of Gator '05," leaves me very uneasy. If Gator supporters, and I use that term loosely, were dissuaded from voting based on a blank sticker even if not implicitly campaigned to or made to feel in any way indebted to, even if not obstructed from the polls, and given the material was exactly the same kind as given after voting, then how does this constitute as campaign material.

It seems that the basis of Pedro Morales' argument is that b/c the stickers were coincidentally handed out by a person in a Pants t-shirt that this makes the stickers campaign material. Let me pose this question. What if would-be voters found the stickers laying about the floor, blank as they there were handed out by Will Foster, what then? C'mon now, ust that Advanced Complexity Theory, would it be campaign material, yes or no?

p.s. Thanks for participating and thanks for the mildly patronizing "In Context" line from paragraph #3. Good to have you back. :)

From Student Sen. Gavin Baker (TR comments in yellow)

Handing out the "I Voted" stickers: I thought it was a dumb prank from a hopeless party. I also disagree with coercing students into voting by collecting stickers.

I don't think it's campaign material. It doesn't tell you to vote for or against any party, candidate, or ballot question, which is how "campaign material" is defined in 700.4(d).

The argument is made that these stickers were meant as voter suppression. Well, that's bad, but it's not illegal. You can encourage someone to vote or not to vote, as long as you're not telling them who to vote for or against. Otherwise, the SoE's non-partisan GOTV efforts are illegal.

I also don't think it's an unauthorized benefit as per 761.21. Using the Court's three-prong test, the stickers were a benefit, and may have been intended to influence voters, but are not unauthorized under law. When a party provides supporters with stickers, T-shirts, etc. these are also benefits intended to influence voters. If that's legal, then so are "I Voted" stickers. If it's legal for the SoE to hand out "I Voted" stickers, it's legal for a party to do so. The Court is splitting hairs in a way that's illogical and not based in the black-letter law.

The cease & desist order: I think it was poor judgment to issue the order, but not illegal. The E.C. chair has the authority to issue an order pursuant to 723.4 to "cease and desist from the distribution of campaign material." As I said earlier, the stickers weren't campaign material. It's a debatable point, so while I disagree with the chair's decision to treat the matter as campaign material, I don't think it's
against the law.

However, once issued, the party is required to comply, even if they think it's a spurious matter. Pants should have followed the order until the hearing.

The disqualification: I agree with the concurring opinion that Pants violated 723.4 but not 761.21. I would find it harsh, but not unreasonable, to disqualify Pants for this offense.

Other issues: I'm concerned by how maladroit the Court's reasoning with regard to the First Amendment concerns are. This is an extremely important issue, and the Court clumsily dismisses it. Any time the government does something that looks like prior restraint of speech, the Court needs to apply a very high level of scrutiny, a responsibility the Court shows little concern for in its opinion. I'm not sure I disagree with their conclusion, but it warrants a fuller consideration. I find other sections of the 700 codes questionable under First Amendment law, particularly the requirement to "register" campaign material prior to distributing it.

I hope that someone who has standing takes the case to court. I think it would be possible to get findings that voter boards exist and are coercive.

Thanks for inviting me to weigh in on this issue.

You Betcha Gavin!

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