The Machine really stinks up T-Town!

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As reported in The Tuscaloosa News by Stephanie Taylor attorneys for 4th District Tuscaloosa School Board candidate Kelly Horwitz, who lost by a margin of 87 votes to “Machine” candidate Cason Kirby, have filed a brief challenging the election’s outcome.

A memo on residency was filed on October 14th by James H. Anderson who is the attorney representing Kelly Horwitz in the Circuit Court of Tuscaloosa County.

Part of the memo is as follows:

“A member of Delta Gamma has revealed that at one point during recruitment, the girls were in the basement of the sorority house when they were handed voter registration cards. They were told that they were not permitted to leave the basement until they filled them out. They all filled out the cards even though many expressed that they did not want to move their registration to Tuscaloosa. This same person has revealed that many of the girls put the Delta Gamma house as their address even though they do not live there. While this is certainly a form of ‘misconduct,’ the Contestant will address this event with regard to whether those girls meet the residency requirements to vote in this election.

“The text of an email to Delta Gamma members (with the exception of names which have been deleted) is as follows:

The election is tomorrow! Polls open at 7 am. If you registered to vote, go to the polls and vote! Be sure and have your license or ACT card with you. There will be limos on sorority row taking people to the polls.  If you get in a limo, remember which color it is or the name of it so you will come back to the same location you got on! When you get to the polls, be confident. If there is media, DO NOT TALK TO THEM AT ALL. Do not go near a camera or reporter. If they come up to you, just say no, but don’t be rude. After you vote, come back to the house and give [name deleted] or me your ‘I Voted’ sticker. You will then get a wristband for voting! We will be in the informal living room. Please go before 4:00 if you can vote.

If you have any problems, call me! Next, you should have received a voter registration ID card that tells you where to go vote on the front of it. If your name is listed below then go vote at CALVARY BAPTIST CHURCH, not the Rec Center. If your name is not listed below then look on your card to see where to go and tell the limo driver where you are supposed to go vote after they drop people off at Calvary. If your name is listed below, you are voting for Cason Kirby for District 4. If your name is not listed below then you are voting for Lee Garrison.

If you get to Calvary and they say you are not registered but your name is listed below, tell them you want to vote on a provisional ballot. Do not say that you are on a list, but that you live in the district and registered. Because you do live here and you did register. If you put an address that was not your real address, do not go vote and call me as soon as you read this. Also, we get Panhellenic points for everyone who goes to vote!! 

Go like the Elect Cason Kirby page on FaceBook! This is very important to our chapter and the Greek system as a whole. I have a list of who registered to vote, so if you registered, GO VOTE. Remember, we worked very hard to get to this point and this is our opportunity to show that we are here to stay.

So, remember: go vote and take your license or ACT card; see if your name is on the list below.  DO NOT TALK TO MEDIA. Give your ‘I Voted’ sticker to [name deleted] or me for a wristband.

“The similar wording and timing of the various communications to the fraternities and sororities, as well as the method of how wristbands were distributed, presents strong evidence of a system wide scheme by the Machine to elect Cason Kirby by offering illegal incentives to their members to turn them out to vote for him.

“‘The Machine’ is made up of representatives of a select group of fraternities and sororities who decide on endorsements for candidates for SGA elections and Homecoming Queen. Members of the represented chapters are then turned out in force to vote for the chosen candidates. Dissent is not permitted, and failing to vote can be punishable by fine. All of the sororities and fraternities which sent the above messages are part of the machine. Delta Gamma is the newest member of the machine after having served one year on probationary status. As indicated by the email above, Delta Gamma felt that turning out voters for the school board race would help to secure its status within the organization. The person who has been named as the President of the Machine was one of the voters who had his provisional ballot rejected in this election.

“At least one sorority offered its members additional incentives than the ones outlined above. Members of Phi Mu who were registered to vote in District 4 received a message from Phi Mu’s ‘machine rep’ before the election. The message stated that the sorority had purchased concert tickets to hear the Backstreet Boys, who were performing at the amphitheater the night of the election. The message stated that tickets had been purchased for all members of the sorority, but any member of the sorority who was registered to vote was required to vote in the municipal election and present her ‘I Voted’ sticker in order to receive her ticket.

“Several irregularities were noted within the polling place on election day by poll workers and watchers. An alarming number of students requested provisional ballots without any colorable basis for believing they were eligible to vote in the election. A total of 41 provisional ballots were cast in district 4, 22 of which were rejected. An election official reported that one girl began the process of filling out a request for a provisional ballot but aborted the process and left the building when she learned she had to sign an oath subjecting her to potential perjury charges. The girl was subsequently ushered back in by other girls who insisted she cast a ballot. The election official stated that the girl was shaking as she signed the oath requiring her to swear she was qualified to vote in the election. The election official did not remember the girl’s name, but stated that she remembered that she was the 8th voter on the provisional ballot sign in sheet. The provisional voter sign in sheet does, in fact, indicate that the 8th voter did not initially complete the process.  A notation is further made to the side, ‘DID NOT COMPLETE PROCESS–did not use a ballot.’ The same name later appears again on line 24, and her ballot was counted. The girl in question is a member of Alpha Omicron Pi, a sorority which disseminated one of the above described emails pressuring members to vote and which distributed wristbands to the girls after putting their “I Voted” stickers next to their name on a tally sheet within the sorority. Another boy was overheard talking to his friend as they exited the polling place and grumbling, ‘Man, that was a lot of work for a free drink!’

“As some point on the afternoon of the election, the ABC board learned of the scheme to offer students free drinks for their votes. It contacted Innisfree and other bars in Tuscaloosa to warn them not to participate in the illegal scheme. Innisfree willingly complied with that request, and it appears that Moe’s also complied. Therefore, the students were unable to actually get a drink with the wristbands they had accepted in exchange for their ‘I Voted’ stickers.

“The members of Phi Mu, however, did get to enjoy the illegal inducement they were promised for voting. On the afternoon of the election, one Phi Mu voter proudly put a picture of her left balcony concert ticket on Twitter with the notation, ‘Backstreet’s Back, alright!’ Pictures and one video of the Phi Mu girls on the ‘party bus’ (as they called it) headed to the concert, and pictures taken at the concert were posted across various forms of social media. That night, the Phi Mu “machine rep” informed the group of the results of the election. She told them that Cason Kirby had won the election by 77 votes and that Phi Mu had made the difference in the election since they had influenced 91 votes. It is unclear where she would have gotten the number ’91’ but certainly Phi Mu, with the 68 votes it cast in the election, nearly single handedly gave Kirby that margin of victory. When those 68 votes are combined with the votes of the numerous other students who accepted wristbands redeemable for free drinks for their votes, this more than exceeds the margin of victory.”

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