Ducks Together submitted four grievances to the ASUO Elections Board about five violations of election rules by United UO, and the Board penalized United UO for two of the five violations by barring United UO from campaigning on Wednesday, April 11.
“It is frustrating that we have lost an entire day of ground campaigning,” Jacob Faatz, presidential candidate for United UO, said. Faatz said that while United UO has read the rules thoroughly, there was miscommunication within the slate.
The grievances were for United UO campaigning before the allowed start date, soliciting votes before the general elections had begun, attempting to affect the outcome of the election by using food to solicit votes from students while in University Housing and instructing a student to submit her ballot at a campaign table.
Faatz said that there was no attempt at campaigning before the allowed start date, but rather he was trying to recruit more members to his slate.
“I think it was a blatant disrespect for the rules,” Ducks Together presidential candidate Maria Gallegos said of the violations.
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The first grievance submitted was against United UO’s presidential candidate, Jacob Faatz, for violating ASUO election rules by campaigning before the allowed start date, according to ASUO Election Board documents.
Campaigns running for positions on next year’s ASUO administration are allowed to begin ground campaigning — which includes but is not limited to the “posting of campaign materials, any in-person contact, advertising; and all such use of public forums by campaigns,” according to the 2018 ASUO Election Rules — no earlier than Monday, April 9. Faatz is alleged to have campaigned on January 31.
In the grievance submitted by Ducks Together Campaign Manager Tan Perkins on April 4, Perkins stated that Faatz had spoken to the Oregon Marching Band and promised to maintain the group’s funding and even increase it if they were to vote for him.
In an interview with the Emerald, Faatz said that he was attempting to recruit members of the band to his slate, as United UO needed more members. Faatz said that he made no promises to anyone in exchange for votes.
“The intent of me going was trying to present my slate and recruit people,” he said.
Faatz is a former member of OMB and played the sousaphone. Perkins submitted two screenshots of a text message describing Faatz’s presentation, and one additional screenshot of an email written by Oregon Athletic Band Council President Patrick Gordon, who announced that Faatz would be presenting his platform to a future OMB meeting.
“Since the OMB is the largest student group on campus, it’s important to make sure we stay involved in the ASUO elections since who we vote for can have a big impact on the funding ASUO gives us,” Gordon wrote. “ASUO gives us $170,000 and losing any of that funding next year can have a huge impact on the band.”
On April 5 the Board decided not to penalize Faatz, but it requested from Faatz the dates and times of any other campaigning “similar to his presentation on January 31th that occurred prior to March 9,” according to the Board ruling. The ruling also describes how the Board did not penalize Faatz because there was “not enough evidence” submitted by Ducks Together “to result in a violation.”
“The text messages submitted cannot be verified and there is no evidence to support the claim that funding could be exchanged for votes within the evidence submitted,” the Board wrote.
The Board also decided not to penalize United UO for early campaigning to OMB because the Official 2018 ASUO Elections Rules were not yet finalized; Faatz is alleged to have met OMB on Jan. 31, and the election rules were not finalized until the beginning of March.
“Though ground campaigning has historically not been allowed until the time determined by the Elections Board, a candidate who has not worked with ASUO Elections in the past may not be aware,” the Board wrote.
United UO, unlike Ducks Together, does not have any members on the slate that are currently involved in ASUO.
On April 9, Perkins appealed the Faatz decision claiming that a video that show the alleged violation should be considered admissible because Faatz was in a meeting open to the public when it was filmed which falls under the expectation of reasonable privacy, according to the appeal.
The 16-second video submitted by Perkins was of Faatz speaking to International Student Association and was recorded without Faatz’s knowledge. Faatz described the video as an invasion.
The Constitution Court dismissed Perkin’s appeal on similar grounds on April 10. The Court stated that it was “not clear” if “the current election rules could be applied” retroactively, even if the video was accepted as evidence by the Court.
The Board also cited Election Rule 5.1.1, which states that campaigns “have a duty to report any known infractions or misconduct within their campaign to the Elections Board,” and the Board requested the date and time of any similar ground campaigning.
“These presentations, however good-natured and friendly they may be, are nonetheless
violations under the Rules,” the Board wrote.
Another grievance was submitted by Ducks Together about how a United UO slate member instructed a student to go onto DuckWeb to vote for United UO during tabling, and the ASUO Elections Board ruled that United UO must lose one hour of ground campaigning on Wednesday, April 11.
The Board attempted to reach out to the student but did not hear back; however, because this is a minor infraction of election rules, the Board stated that is has a “lower threshold of evidence.”
“Though there is no evidence to show that the student in question directly submitted their ballot while speaking with a United UO representative in front of the campaign table, this interaction should never have occurred within a close reading of the Rules,” the Board wrote.
Campaigning within University Housing
Another grievance submitted by Ducks Together and UO senior Doug Sam on April 9 described how United UO used food to solicit votes from students while in University Housing, specifically Global Scholars Hall. Witnesses reported that students who were affiliated United UO advocated for students to vote for United UO. United UO admitted, “per Jacob Faatz’ email,” according to Board documents, that they then asked for student support.
The Board stated that this is a major violation of election rules and ruled that United UO must have their ground campaigning privileges revoked on Wednesday, April 11.
“Students are allowed to know how to vote and campaigns may instruct them how to do so, much this must be done in a neutral manner. This is not an instance of instructing students how to vote, but encouraging them to vote for a particular campaign,” Board documents stated.
Casey Crowley and Frankie Benitez contributed additional reporting to this story.