Decision to ax Griffin campaign upheld

Justin Horwath

Denny Olsen, senior associate director of Student Unions and Activities, rapped the gavel on Mike Griffin and Vince Patti’s final campaign to get their names back on the Minnesota Student Association’s ballot for next week’s presidential election.

Griffin and Patti still plan to run as write-in candidates, and Griffin said the pair will mount a “massive” write-in campaign for the elections.

After again analyzing the list of signatures political science junior Griffin and food science junior Patti filed with the All-Campus Elections Commission two weeks ago, Olsen upheld last week’s ruling that the two fell short of the undergraduate signatures required at filing time.

“It really came down to the All-Campus Election (Commission’s) rules of 450 (signatures),” he said. “And we did a re-count of those signatures and he still didn’t have the 450, so there wasn’t a basis on overturning the ACEC decision.”

Olsen said he ruled 416 signatures valid of the 462 on the list – eight more than the Commission’s original ruling.

Vice-presidential candidate Patti said the biggest issue was legibility, and along with Griffin, contends staff members at the Student Unions and Activities Office lost two pages of signatures. Advisers at the office said no sheets were lost.

“We didn’t explicitly tell people (to make sure their signatures were legible),” Patti said. “That’s pretty much where it went wrong Ö I’m a little upset we didn’t investigate it a little more clearly.”

Throughout the controversy, Griffin has questioned the Commission’s motives, claiming conflicts of interest, race and his stance on issues played a role in his ineligibility. The Commission negated these allegations after overturning a complaint Griffin filed.

“I’m the anti-establishment candidate,” Griffin said.

The Commission and advisers at the Student Unions and Activities office saw the matter through a simpler lens.

“His candidacy was treated the same as all the other candidates,” Olsen said.

The controversy has also brought into question the signature-collecting process, and how rigorously those signatures are checked.

Philosophy senior Jacques Maxwell, who is on the All-Campus Elections Commission, said front desk staff at the Student Unions and Activities Office first review the signatures, which are sent to an adviser in the office if legibility is questioned.

“With Mike’s case, it was reviewed by multiple SUA members,” he said.

Griffin gave the Daily a list of the signatures, which had marks denoting validity.

The Activities Office threw out names including “Anna Nicole,” “Barry Melrose” and “Barb Streisand.”

“College kids will be college kids,” Griffin said. “Yes, those names shouldn’t have been counted.”

But an “X” flanking biology first-year student Stephanie DiPrima’s signature meant that her name was thrown out by someone in the process, although she is listed on One Stop.

DiPrima verified she signed the sheet.

“I was sitting in the mall and he came up and asked me to sign the paper for him so I just signed it,” the first-year biology student said.

Maxwell said many signatures thrown out by the front desk staff might have been re-evaluated as valid by an adviser.

Candidate Nathan Olson said he also found fake names on his list of signatures.

“We had a few of those,” the linguistics and Spanish junior said. “You know you count on that happening and make

sure to get extra knowing that those are going to be thrown out.”