Burning posters and complaints of unethical campaigning have set the scene for the Student Association presidential and executive vice presidential runoff elections this week.
The runoffs Wednesday and Thursday come in the wake of a March 3-4 election that declared presidential candidate Alexis Rice the winner in a preliminary count. But after a recount a few days later, the Joint Elections Committee announced Rice was a few votes short of the 40 percent she needed to win, putting her in a runoff against Phil Meisner.
The recounted EVP votes showed Derek Grosso received more votes than Cat Sadler and he advanced to a runoff against Caity Leu.
Candidates have encountered problems this week with posters hung around campus. Rice said Wednesday morning all her posters had been removed. Later that morning, Rice said a man, who was not a GW student, told her he saw someone tearing down her posters the night before. She said she believed it could have been Meisner.
The witness filed a report with University Police Wednesday afternoon. But the report did not include information about Meisner or any of his supporters, according to UPD.
“I am firmly confident that I didn’t touch a poster,” Meisner said.
In addition, an unidentified male was seen lighting Meisner posters on fire in the Academic Center breezeway Wednesday afternoon, according to a report filed with UPD. Meisner said he does not know who is responsible for destroying his posters, but he is not ruling out members of the Rice campaign.
“Whether or not it was Alexis’ campaign, I don’t know,” Meisner said. “It wouldn’t surprise me, though.”
Rice said she did not play a part in the poster-burning incident.
Other problems this week centered around two ads supporting Meisner that appeared in The GW Hatchet. One ad, which listed a student group called “GW Democrats” as endorsing Meisner, irked Marc Shaller, president of the GW College Democrats.
The CDs endorsed Rice for president and filed a complaint with the JEC Tuesday about Meisner’s ad.
“It’s deceptive because (GW Democrats) can easily be construed as the College Democrats, who did not endorse Phil Meisner,” Shaller said.
Meisner said the group is a “legitimate student group,” though it is not registered with the Student Activities Center. But he said he is not surprised Shaller is lodging a complaint against him because he said Shaller supports Rice.
The other ad supporting Meisner was sponsored by Students For Peace in the Middle East, another unregistered student group. According to JEC rules, only registered student groups can sponsor ads. Meisner said he was unaware the group was not registered.
Despite the controversy surrounding the campaigns this week, both Rice and Meisner agreed that the mudslinging is outrageous.
“This has gotten a bit out of hand and things are spiraling out of control,” Meisner said. “This has been a bad, bad election.”