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Yale elections marred by irregularities

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

This year’s race for president of Yale University’s College Council was marred by multiple campaign violations and incidents of ethical misconduct.

All five candidates running for president were cited for campaign violations, according to an April 11 Yale Daily News article. One candidate illegally sent spam e-mails to 600 students, while another put up a campaign Web site too early. Runner-up Larry Wise, a sophomore, faced the most serious citations, allegedly sending spam e-mails and unethically setting up voting stations on laptop computers outside a dining hall.

Even Emery Choi, the junior who won the race last week after a run-off election, was cited along with other candidates for an advertisement violation that involved improper use of the online networking Web site

But outgoing YCC Vice President Marissa Brittenham, a junior, said there was nothing unusual about this year’s race. “There were just as many violations as in past years,” Brittenham told The Herald, adding that the troubles during the campaign were only “indicative that the Election Committee really stepped up and called violations they didn’t in the past.”

Though Brittenham said the guidelines are “almost impossible to follow to the letter,” the Elections Committee and the YCC have no intentions of changing them in the future.

“We’re not going to make the guidelines any less strict,” she said, pointing out that most of the violations were relatively minor and involved only illegal advertising and spam e-mails. But she added that the committee will continue to enforce “the penalties and guidelines aimed at leveling the playing field.”

Brittenham said there is little chance that the candidates will be any less fierce in their campaigning methods in the future. “It’s such a competitive race,” she said. “It’s a very interesting position to hold on campus.”

In an April 15 article, the Yale Daily News reported the candidates’ debacles with campaign regulations may have affected the election’s outcome. One student said the penalties the Election Committee placed on Wise, whose campaigning privileges were severely restricted on the day before the run-off election, hindered the sophomore’s chances.

But Brittenham said the citations had little or no impact on the results of the race. “The reason Emery won was because he had the support of two other candidates” during the run-off election, she said.

This series of violations is particularly noteworthy given that Yale nourishes a tradition of producing high-profile politicians. Since 1972, a Yale alum has participated in every presidential or vice-presidential race at the national level. Four presidential candidates in 2004 – President George W. Bush, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean – graduated from Yale, while former President Bill Clinton graduated from Yale Law School.

Yet the correlation between the YCC’s campaign troubles and potential future presidential candidates may be far-fetched. As Wise told The Herald, there is slim chance that any of the people involved in this year’s YCC election will ever be involved in any major political campaigns in the future.

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