Candidates are touring campus with independent "voting stations," an unorthodox campaigning technique that's drawing attention to discrepancies within the 2010 elections
The voting tables are essentially self-made polling places -- laptops either held up by a campaigner or sitting on a table run by the campaign staffers. But don't call them that: Calling the stations "polling places" would violate the 2010 University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) elections code, which states, "It shall be a violation of this Code for anyone other than the Elections Commission to establish a Public Polling Place."
But since students are allowed to vote on their own computers, the Elections Commission ruled that candidate-run stations are technically legal. Both presidential candidates, David Adewumi and Christian Ragland, have set up voting stations.
"Under our current code, it's allowed," UPUA Head Elections Commissioner Matt Lachman said.
But Andrew Karasik, UPUA director of media and public relations, said he doesn't necessarily agree with the commission's ruling.
"It seems counterintuitive to say any individual with a computer can be considered a 'public polling place' but at the same time that no individual can establish a 'public polling place,' " Karasik (senior-film and video) said.
Candidates are already taking advantage of the lax regulation surrounding unofficial voting stations. Even though campaigning is not allowed within 10 feet of UPUA-established public polling places, the same can't be said for the candidate-run stations. Campaigners are allowed to display campaign T-shirts and other paraphernalia and are not being prevented from campaigning while students vote.
Once their ticket cleared it with the Elections Commission several days ago, Adewumi and running mate Devin Weakland said they were definitely planning on using the laptops to elicit student interest in the election.
Their opponents, Christian Ragland and Colleen Smith, said they were hesitant to use the technique at first because they were unsure about its legality. However, Smith said once they saw it was allowed, they also decided to make use of the opportunity, too.
Adewumi campaigner Dylan Winn sees the stations as a good way to make sure the candidates are reaching out to the students, not the other way around.
"You're more likely to get them to vote if you go to them ... You can get people that wouldn't take the time to normally go to the Web site on their own," Winn (freshman-mechanical engineering) said.
While this technique hasn't been widely used before, Karasik said it's common for issues like these to arise every year on Election Day.
"No one is ever maliciously trying to find loopholes," he said. "Everyone running for office is noble, but the thing is that the [campaign methods] of the candidates slip through the cracks... and the document is not airtight."