Politics in a microcosm -- here's a hilarious account of the current war between the proto-politicians in the Duke undergrad student body that reads like a dispatch from Washington:
The Duke Student Government presidential race was thrown into flux early this morning when the DSG Judiciary ruled that part of the Election Commission’s weekend rulings was unconstitutional.
Today’s planned runoff between juniors Emily Aviki and Jesse Longoria will likely not take place as the Election Commission must now reconvene to determine how to proceed. The runoff, however, must occur by Thursday, per DSG bylaws...
Although the Judiciary upheld the commission’s April 2 finding that Aviki had violated campaign laws during the March 31 executive election, it decided the sanction forbidding Aviki to campaign during the resulting runoff period was illegal. A runoff is a separate election from the original vote, DSG Chief Justice Emilie Lemke said, and any punishments should only apply to the election during which the violation occurred.
The Judiciary sent the ruling back to the Election Commission with the recommendation that Aviki lose a fraction of her original vote count as punishment, which would send the race into a three-candidate runoff with Longoria and junior Russ Ferguson.
The best part is the campaign dirty tricks:
In addition to the ruling, the Judiciary informed all of the candidates that it was "embarrassed" and "absolutely disgusted" with the behavior of some of the candidates, Lemke said. The two-week campaign has been marked by flying accusations, particularly between the Aviki and Ferguson campaigns. Lemke noted that during the appeals hearing Longoria stayed out of the fray.
Over the course of the campaign, Aviki has been charged with premature campaigning and posting an illegal "live" link on her AOL Instant Messenger profile on election day. The Election Commission sanctioned Aviki for those charges but ruled Saturday that she could remain in the runoff, albeit without campaigning.
Candidates and their supporters have also hurled allegations against each other about bribing minors with alcohol and an incident involving slogans painted on the East Campus bridge...
Much of the contention arose from an incident March 29 when the Election Commission received notice of the slogans "Jesse’s pesky," "Aviki’s tricky" and "Concerned citizens endorse Ross the boss" on the East Campus bridge. When all three candidates arrived on the scene, Aviki and Ferguson supporters argued over who was responsible for the incident, each accusing the other. Members of the Election Commission divided the bridge among the candidates that night and ordered that each paint over the section with his or her name on it.
Senior James Saad, a member of Ferguson’s campaign team, filed a complaint with the Election Commission that implicated Aviki in the incident.
Aviki said she was particularly struck by the Ferguson camp’s allegations. "I was very surprised that he could actually have the gall to say that I was responsible," she said. Ferguson said Monday he did not know who was responsible for the bridge painting.
Aviki’s campaign has been fraught with controversy since a pro-Aviki banner was hung 20 minutes before official campaigning was supposed to begin at midnight March 21. The Election Commission cut her campaign funds in half and banned Aviki from hanging banners on Main West. Aviki blames her first campaign violation on a fast dorm room alarm clock and said that while the incident hurt the first day and was "unfortunate," she was able to run her campaign within the budget constraints.
After Aviki's second campaign violation—leaving a live link on her AOL Instant Messenger profile on election day—the Election Commission ruled Aviki could remain in the race but prevented her from campaigning and disqualified her from receiving the $5 budget allotment for runoff elections. Those final punishments were the pieces of the ruling the Judiciary found objectionable.
This is also a classic case study in the folly of FEC-style campaign regulation -- ridiculous micro-management of the process just doesn't work. Let the voters decide!