More complaints of misconduct in ASPSU race

The ASPSU Judicial Board is potentially looking into allegations of misconduct made against ASPSU presidential candidate Katie Markey regarding her work during the student government voter registration drive last fall.

The ASPSU Judicial Board is potentially looking into allegations of misconduct made against ASPSU presidential candidate Katie Markey regarding her work during the student government voter registration drive last fall.

Several students claim Markey was seen making copies of voter registration cards with the intention of using them to her advantage in the student elections. The concerns raised are over the legality of copying information from registration cards and the ethical nature of using that information for other purposes.

Markey said her actions were part of the standard and legal registration drive procedures. Both she and others claim that the information was not used in her personal campaign.

One of the complaints came from her opponent, presidential candidate Jil Heimensen, who submitted it to the Elections Board several weeks ago as part of her late-candidate registration form.

Heimensen claims that Markey, the current interim legislative affairs director for ASPSU, made copies of students’ voter registration cards collected during the Get Out the Vote campaign with the intention of using them to her advantage in the campus election. 

“Aside from being highly questionable at best and potentially illegal, my concern is that they will use the names gathered to their advantage in the upcoming election,” Heimensen said in her letter to the E-Board.

However, the E-Board is not currently investigating the complaint because its chair, Debra Porta, said it was not lodged in an official capacity. However, if it were, the matter would be taken seriously.

In an e-mail to Heimensen, Porta said, “As I stated to you previously, if such an infraction has occurred, then the filing process needs to be followed, including a description of the potential infraction event itself. This process was outlined in orientation and is in the bylaws. Such a report has never happened.”

Heimensen and her running mate, Johnnie Ozimkowski, were disqualified for a short time last week after the E-Board ruled that complaints brought against them for campaign misconduct were grounds for dismissal from the race.

The J-Board overturned one of the complaints, brought against them by their opponent for the vice-presidency, Selina Poulsen. The complaint’s dismissal allowed Heimensen and Ozimkowski to be reinstated. 

According to Heimensen, she was made aware of the incident involving Markey’s use of voter registration cards by student Rachel Cain, who brought her claim before the J-Board at its meeting on Monday.

“I was sitting around in the ASPSU office one day and [Markey] came in with another girl,” Cain said. “They were counting the voter registration cards that they collected and she said, ‘This is great, we can use this for campaigning.'” 

Cain, a triple major at PSU, said she saw them making copies of the cards and confronted Markey and the other girl, identified as ASPSU Communication Director Laura Morency. 

“I asked them, ‘What are you planning on doing with those registration cards and why are you making copies of them?'” Cain said. “I also asked them whether the students know that they are doing this with their voter registration cards.” 

According to Cain, Markey was unable to explain why she was making copies of the cards. 

“[Markey] looked around at the other people in the office and said, ‘Can someone help me out here, I’m not comfortable with answering this,'” Cain said. “She later said that [Secretary of State] Kate Brown told them to do so.” 

Cain said that a few days after the confrontation, Brown was on campus to congratulate the Oregon Students Association and ASPSU for their efforts in the Get Out the Vote Campaign, in which 2,755 people were registered on campus to vote. 

After the press conference, Cain approached Brown to ask whether she authorized the ASPSU representatives to make copies of those cards. 

During her testimony at the J-Board meeting, Cain said Brown was surprised and seemed to not know anything about the situation. Cain also claims that representatives from the OSA tried to keep her away from Brown at the press conference. 

ain said she was asked by Brown to e-mail her office with an explanation of the incident. Aside from an e-mail, Cain also sent a letter via certified mail to Brown’s office on February 10. She has yet to receive any response to either letter. 

At the J-Board meeting, chair Brad Vehafric raised the point that voter registration information is public record that can be requested by anyone through the city. 

“What we as a board can determine is whether they violated any state, county or ASPSU law in doing so,” Vehafric said. “But they could have made copies of those cards to count how many students they registered so they can present the information to the state legislature.” 

Emily McLain, legislative director for OSA, said that making copies of voter registration cards during a voter registration drive is not illegal.

Tamara Henderson, executive director for the OSA, said the group has never advised any student to make copies of voter registration cards to use for personal election campaigns. 

“OSA is not involved in any capacity in student elections on any campus, as it would be detrimental to the collaborative nature of the organization,” Henderson wrote in an e-mail. 

Morency said it’s against the ASPSU policy to use that information for campus elections. However, she admits that they did make copies of all voter registration cards collected from the campaign. 

“What we do is copy the top of the cards, which has no confidential information except for their name and contact information—it does not show party affiliation,” Morency said. “We use that contact information to do follow-up calls in a non-partisan manner to make sure that students know the deadline and encourage them to vote.” 

All copies are later shredded, according to Morency. 

There are discrepancies over the details of the incident. According to Morency, what Markey said to Cain in the office at the time was that Brown is aware of what they do, not necessarily that she explicitly told them to do it.  

Morency also said that if Markey was simply making copies of the top of the voter registration cards, where it only show the name and contact information of students, then it was within her right to do so.

Henderson said that the information is public record according to ORS 247.973.

Student Activities and Leadership Programs assistant director and ASPSU advisor, Domanic Thomas, said even if Cain’s claim is true, he still doesn’t see any benefit to having student’s voter information for use in a campus election. 

“It doesn’t even make sense,” Thomas said. “How can an ASPSU candidate use student’s voter registration information to advance their personal campaign?” 

“I just don’t see it being utilized that way—having been involved in this cycle for many years—even if the claims are true,” he said.

Morency said she and other ASPSU representatives explained to Cain repeatedly that what they were doing is not illegal.

“[Cain] doesn’t seem to understand that she has no grounds for her complaint,” Morency said. “[Get Out the Vote] is something that we’re very passionate about so it’s a shame that she would try to fight against us for empowering students, [it has] become petty.”