With Student Association elections still three weeks away, 15 candidates are already facing a total of 29 electoral violations.
Members of the Coalition for Reform slate are facing 10 of the rule breaches, with five violations leveled against presidential candidate and Sen. Ben Traverse (CCAS-U) and five violations against unopposed executive vice president candidate and Sen. Morgan Corr (CCAS-U).
The alleged infractions against the Coalition for Reform candidates are based on a rule prohibiting campaigning before Feb. 7 set by the Joint Elections Committee, which oversees the March 2 and 3 elections for the SA, Marvin Center Governing Board and Program Board.
On Friday morning, senior Mary Mai, a former Senate chief of staff, and JEC Chairman Justin Neidig filed complaints against 10 of the slate’s members for their names appearing on the group’s Web site, www.gwreform.com, before the start of the official campaigning period, on Monday.
“We don’t believe that anything we have done has given us an unfair advantage over any other candidate,” said Traverse, defending the slate.
He added that he believes he is “being targeted” by the JEC, since presidential candidate and Sen. C.J. Calloway (Business-U), who is not associated with the coalition, announced his candidacy before Feb. 7 and was not cited by the JEC.
“There are people out there who did the exact same thing as me, yet the JEC decided only to bring violations against me and members of my slate,” Traverse said.
But Neidig said the JEC is unbiased and did not file a complaint against Calloway because he did not use a Web site to promote his campaign.
“If people feel that other members also were violating the rules then we encourage them to bring those charges to us,” said Neidig, in reference to Traverse’s complaints.
The JEC will meet Monday night to rule on the violations. Any candidate with a total of seven infractions is barred from running in the election.
Traverse and Corr also face two more violations for not turning in copies of campaign material posted on thefacebook.com, a popular social networking Web site. Monday night’s JEC meeting will determine if Facebook groups are considered online campaigning, which is outlawed in the 2005 JEC charter.
In addition to the violations attributed to slate candidates, presidential hopeful Audia Shakour was cited for early campaigning through a Facebook group.
As the registration deadline for candidates passed Friday night, the field of SA presidential candidates grew to eight. Joining previously declared candidates Traverse, Calloway, Shakour and Jon Ostrower were Sen. Hilary Golston (CCAS-U), Ryan Luther, Henry Roosevelt and Lamar Thorpe.
The field of eight presidential candidates is similar in number to last year’s group, which saw nine students seek the top position in the SA. In 2004, four candidates ran for EVP, a position only being sought by Corr this year.
SA members said they are hoping the presidential field coupled with 40 registered Senate candidates will bring an increased turnout to the March elections, which saw only 10 percent of the student body vote last year. In 2003, 2,319 out of 21,000 students cast votes for SA president; in 2004, the number increased to 2,990.
A new voter activism group called Uvote, which is run by freshman Gina Frenandes and based on the GW Votes campaign, hopes to bolster the traditionally low voter numbers.
While the number of students voting in SA elections may seem low, GW’s turnout is statistically similar to several other major universities’.
The University of Missouri college newspaper reported that only 3 percent of its student population participated in student government elections in 2004. Columbia University has one of the highest voter participation in the county, with 38 percent of the student body voting in the 2003 elections.