Elections Board dismisses complaint of sororities incentivizing voting | #elections | #alabama

Multiple Alabama Panhellenic Association sororities incentivize members to vote in Student Government Association elections. They endorse candidates and heavily promote or require voting. 

SGA Sen. John Dodd sent a complaint to the Elections Board about Pi Beta Phi incentivizing its members to vote. The organization also offered points to voting members. 

The SGA Elections Manual and Code of Student Conduct prohibit “using valuable incentives to induce an individual to vote for a particular candidate or issue.”

The Elections Board reviewed Dodd’s complaint Monday night. Chair Reese Caldwell confirmed they dismissed the complaint and sent it to the University’s Office of Student Conduct. 

There is no confirmed timeline for the Code of Student Conduct to review it.

Dodd said he reported the complaint to the Elections Board to hold the SGA accountable. 

A member of Pi Beta Phi reached out to Dodd asking him to report the complaint due to fear of retaliation from the Machine, a coalition of sororities and fraternities at the University that controls elections. 

“She didn’t want her name to get involved because she feared retaliation from her sorority, which is 100% understandable,” Dodd said. “Because sadly that’s how UA politics works a lot of times.” 

Greek organizations’ endorsements of candidates — and some organizations’ requirements for members to vote — is how the Machine maintains its voting bloc and controls elections. 

This election cycle, The Crimson White received confirmation of at least six sororities endorsing candidates, three sororities incentivizing their members with points, one sorority requiring members to vote, and all sororities encouraging members to submit voter confirmation. 

There are 19 APA sororities. 

Madeline Martin, unofficial SGA president-elect, is a member of Chi Omega who was publicly endorsed by the organization. 

During the presidential debate, Martin denied being endorsed by any “organized student factions” but later said she misheard the question and confirmed Chi Omega’s endorsement. 

This year, at least six sororities endorsed Martin for president: Delta Delta Delta, Pi Beta Phi, Chi Omega, Alpha Delta Pi, Delta Gamma and Gamma Phi Beta. 

These six sororities also endorsed Izzy Boyd for VP of diversity, equity and inclusion — the only other contested executive position. 

The SGA Elections Manual permits organizations to endorse candidates. Any public endorsement must include a disclaimer that states “our members’ votes are their own and they have the right to choose whether to vote and whom to vote for. We encourage all voters to research any and all candidates and to decide for themselves.”

All endorsement messages shared with sorority members included the proper Elections Manual disclaimer. 

Delta Delta Delta members received “Delta points” if they publicly supported Martin’s campaign. Attending Martin’s campaign events were worth additional points. 

“Meet Madeline on the Quad!” an executive member of Delta Delta Delta wrote in the sorority group message. “Take a pic for a Delta point!”

Pi Beta Phi also offered a point to members who shared proof of voting.

“IMPORTANT: Email a picture of your confirmation to pibetaphivotes@gmail.com ASAP after voting,” a post in a private Pi Beta Phi Facebook group said. “It is important to exercise your right to vote as a UA student! You’ll also receive a Pi Phi point.”

Zeta Tau Alpha required members to share confirmation of their vote, while the six sororities that endorsed her encouraged it. 

“We want to encourage Zeta Tau Alpha to have a strong turnout in this year’s SGA Election, so forward your voter confirmation email to: ztavoting1@gmail.com after you vote in the SGA Election tomorrow,” the email said. 

Voter confirmation is a requirement for members of Zeta Tau Alpha. 

“It is REQUIRED that members of our organization forward their voter confirmation email in order to foster a stronger sense of civic engagement in our organization within the community at the University of Alabama,” the email said. 

An unofficial Instagram account run by members of Zeta Tau Alpha told its 700 followers to DM the account if they needed help making “an educated vote.” 

“It’s part of the ZTA bylaws so get to it besties,” the post said.

Gamma Phi Beta awarded seven points to members who voted before 9 a.m and fewer points as the day went on. To receive points, members had to show proof of their vote with gpbelections@gmail.ua.edu

Zeta Tau Alpha endorsed Jillian Fields for president last election cycle. They also endorsed executive candidates Sam Rickert, Amanda Allen, Madeline Martin, Lauren Gilonske, Sullivan Irvine, Jack Steinmetz and Colin Marcum, all of whom were elected in uncontested races. 

Dodd said endorsements and incentives are a tactic of voter intimidation. 

“I think all students should have the opportunity to think on their own and vote for whatever candidate they want to and they shouldn’t have to be forced to vote, even if they don’t want to vote,” Dodd said. “It’s sad. It’s fear mongering, and these girls should be able to make whatever decision they want, regardless who they want to vote for.”

Questions? Email the news desk at newsdesk@cw.ua.edu.

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