Election evolution spawns new tactics

By Jesse Dunsmore

Senior Reporter

Anyone paying attention can see it’s the home stretch of election time.

Jean Szura, assistant director of student activities leadership development was working a polling station upstairs in the OC. “I think it’s changed a lot since I was a student,” she said.

For one, this campaign has an online presence.

As has been a tradition in recent years, each presidential ticket has a Facebook group.

At press time, Andrew Bashi and Steven Clark were neck and neck on the Facebook front, with 324 and 328 members in their groups, respectively, while Twardy’s group trailed with 240.

Bashi has also produced a campaign video and uploaded it to YouTube, and the Twardy/Neale ticket has a Web site.

The new and exclusively online voting system used this year got off to a false start when a bug made it impossible to place a vote for both referendums on the ballot.

Elections Commission Chair Josh Miller said the problem was fixed at approximately 8 a.m. Monday, after 128 students had already voted. The students were notified via e-mail, and will be allowed to re-vote on the referendums. The presidential and legislative votes were not affected.

The presidential candidates are probably happy to hear that — they have enough to think about.


In the war of visibility, the unquestioned victor is Andrew Bashi. In addition to flyers, Bashi’s campaign has included buttons, T-shirts, a table of free cookies and kabob (complete with a giant sign), musicians, a card-trick-performing magician, and liberal use of sidewalk chalk (often used by Bashi’s four-year-old cousin, to draw rocket ships pointing toward the kabob table).

And the campaign has even spread outside OU. The “Ron Paul for Peace” sign that has for months been looming on a nearby overpass was recently replaced with an “OU for Bashi” sign.

“I saw it on my way [to campus],” Bashi said, laughing. “I’m close friends with a lot of Ron Paul supporters, so it was probably the same people who put up the Ron Paul signs.”

Student Activities Funding Board Chair Danielle Fallis expressed some concern about attention-grabbing techniques. “I just hope that [students are] voting for people for the right reasons. I think there are three very qualified people, and some have gotten themselves out there more than others.”

Bashi explained his reasons for the publicity tactics. “For me, I just want people to get really excited about this entire thing,” he said. “If we can’t get people excited about us now, then how are we going to get them excited later on when we’re doing our job and we have a lot of events that we’re trying to plan and bring people out to?”

Bashi, who has been running on a platform calling for more activities, said although he’s involved with many student organizations, he’s really focusing on students who aren’t currently involved in such things. “They’re the ones that are upset [about a lack of activities].”

Whether the events are trying to call attention to OUSC or win a popularity contest, they’ve successfully left an impression on some students.

“I’ve only really seen this Bashi guy,” said freshman Julie Barbaro.

“He’s the only person I knew,” said senior Matt Anton, “so I voted for him.”


But some people said they have yet to run across Bashi’s large-scale efforts or those of the other candidates.

And there’s some competition for the student org vote.

In last week’s debate, Twardy, currently OUSC student services director, expressed his desire to make event planning easier and faster for student orgs.

According to Twardy, prior to the official start of the campaign, he e-mailed every organization on campus, asking to meet with them during the campaign.

He’s spoken at about two dozen meetings, he said. With an average of six meetings a week, “I was cutting work and class to meet with these guys,” he said.

He and a dozen volunteers also polled their classes, and he said he’d be doing a last-minute campaign with individual students around campus.

“I feel like I’m the underdog in the campaign,” he said, “because, yeah, I have the Congress experience and the qualifications, but in contests like these, it’s about who you know.”

He feels he’s got the support of the groups he spoke to. “I show them that I have substance and also personality. … I feel like every group I spoke to, I’d like to be able to claim at least half.”

He said he’s also been in contact with the Greek community, and that they seem to like his ideas for involving Greek life more on campus.

 “It’s hard with a fraternity candidate running,” Twardy said, referring to Clark’s running mate Dan Evola, who is a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. “It’s understandable, and you don’t hold that against people; they support their guy.”

Twardy does have some Greek support, though.

“Jordan is the only one who has talked to us and talked to us as a group,” said David Wyatt, president of Alpha Phi Omega at OU.


Phi Sigma Sigma Archon Amanda Linska said she believes some of her sorority offers support Twardy, though Evola’s candidacy for VP earns more.

“I think a lot of women think because [Evola is] Greek, he’ll know what we need and what we want,” said Linska.

“I think they’ll want to keep a Greek in office,” said Clark.

Besides the Greek vote, Clark, captain of OU’s soccer team and a member of the Student Athletic Advisory Council, is counting on help from student athletes.

“I feel like the athletes are going to support athletes. You have to go through being what it means to be a college athlete before you can understand that.”

His appeal to athletes — or just people who know him — is apparent.

Golfer Frank McAuliffe is for Clark. “I’ve only heard of Steve,” he said.

Basketball player Derick Nelson saidthat, in the end, he voted for Clark because he knew him.

He may have to rely on that support, having not had the time to meet with student orgs or set up a highly visible campaign, though he has tabled in the OC.

Clark, instead, has been focusing on networking with people he’s familiar with, relying on “word of mouth.”

“I don’t think people vote by seeing a flyer; I think people vote when you look them in the eye and say, ‘Listen, man, I think I can make this place better.'”

“My campaign is, I’m not a politician; I’m a student,” said Clark. “I’d like to spend more time campaigning, but I’ve got a 25-page paper due in History 300.”

A new look to the election

OUSC President Rob Meyer knows this election is different from last year’s, which he ran in unopposed.

“Obviously, it’s a lot more competitive,” Meyer said. “I think all three candidates have qualities that the president should have, and all three of them working together would be an ideal situation, but obviously that can’t happen. I think it will be a really close election,” he added

Graduate student Mike Palmer worked the downstairs poll on Tuesday. With the

exception of last year, previous years have been much less fri

endly than this, he said, citing accusations of harassment. “This year’s been pretty tame.”

All the candidates were enthused that students had gotten so involved in the process.

“Apathy built up,” Twardy said. “These guys that I’m running against, they had a giant following before they got on the ballot. So these people are all paying attention now, which is great. So it’s hard to be bitter, even if you lose. … I hope that every year is like this.”

Check out more campaign photos here: