The Daily Gamecock

President and speaker of the senate elections continue in runoff following violation hearings

After four violation hearings, Luke Rankin and Lyric Swinton are now in a runoff for student body president while Nick Hooks and Davis Latham compete for speaker of the senate. 

Rankin and Hooks faced two campaign violations each before the results of their respective races could be announced. Earlier in the evening, Sophie Davish was elected as vice president and Kate Lewis was elected as treasurer. 

Before Wednesday, the Rankin-Lewis campaign had no violations and Hooks had eight violations. If a candidate receives 10 violation points the election commission has the ability to terminate their candidacy. 

Rankin and his campaign were accused of two separate violations. 

Rankin and an estimated eight staffers and volunteers campaigned Tuesday night in Five Points. Outside the the bar Bird Dog, a volunteer was videotaped handling a student's phone and assisting the student in voting. 

Witnesses claim the volunteer told the student to vote for Rankin and Lewis and then casted the vote for the student who was allegedly intoxicated. Swinton and members of her campaign presented the evidence and accused Rankin-Lewis of taking advantage of students and unfairly influencing them. This was later disputed by Rankin’s staff.

Rankin’s team said the student was sober and a friend of the volunteer. They also said the volunteer was just showing the student how to pull up the ballot and cast a vote.

With a 9 to 1 vote, the elections committee found the incident in violation of Student Government codes, and decided to give Luke Rankin 3.5 violation points.

On Wednesday, Rankin-Lewis volunteers who were not aware of the previous night’s events helped a student pull up the ballot on his phone. A member of the FUSE campaign who was also there campaigning recorded the interaction. The FUSE staffer claimed the Rankin-Lewis volunteer voted for the student. The video was taken from multiple feet away and does not show the action taken on the screen.

Due to insufficient evidence, the election commission voted to not assign any additional violations.

Shortly following the announcement of the results of the violation hearing, the elections commission presented the results for the office of president. No candidate received a majority, so the two candidates with the most votes — Rankin and Swinton — will now compete in a runoff.

Swinton received 2,493 votes for 33.47 percent of the total votes. Rankin received 2,612 votes for 35.08 percent of the total.

Hooks also faced two violation accusations. Latham, one of his opponents for speaker of the senate, led the presentation of evidence.

In the first case, Latham accused Hooks of not receiving permission before speaking to a class. On further investigation, it was found Hooks did have proof of permission but that the documentation was not properly shared with the elections commission. Because the commission did not have the proper documentation, they gave Hooks .25 points. 

Latham also presented a second case and said Hooks had texted dozens of students he didn’t know in order to influence them to vote for him. He presented a witness who said her roommate had received an unsolicited text from Hooks who she said she had not known previously.

The commission unanimously decided not to give Hooks any violation points. The results for the speaker of the senate were allowed to continue but also ended in a runoff.

With 44.33 percent, or 3,158 votes, Hooks will continue to campaign against Latham who received 32.94 percent, or 2,347 votes.

The president and speaker of the senate final results will be announced next week. Voting will take place on March 5 and 6.