(Editor’s Note: The story that describes the voting issues with last week’s SGA election in detail can be found here.)
Doug Bridges, the Presidential candidate with the least amount of votes in last week’s Student Government Association (SGA) election, spoke to The Western Carolinian in an exclusive interview Wednesday night about the recent revelation of tampered voting and the subsequent recount.
“Alumni had told me they voted in the election and I said, ‘Excuse me?'” Bridges said. “I think it’s bullsh*t that happened.”
Bridges and best friend Ben Collette ran for President and Vice President, respectively, against new President TJ Eaves and Vice President Alecia Page. Eaves and Page were initially announced the winners on Thursday, March 24 before Bridges came forward with the knowledge that illegitimate votes had been cast in the election.
Bridges approached Mike Corelli, advisor for SGA, and told him about the alumni voting. It was then decided by the SGA Election Committee that an immediate recount would take place. Tallying began over the weekend and lasted until Monday afternoon, but the results remained the same, as Eaves and Page were again announced the winners at a special meeting held on Tuesday, March 29 to discuss the recount’s conclusions as well as candidate infractions.
“I already knew the results,” Bridges said about the meeting. “I already knew what they were saying.”
He admitted he was disappointed because it was hard to hear he and Collette had lost a second time. However, Bridges was more upset about the unfairness of how his concerns about other election infractions were handled.
Bridges saw Eaves in the University Center on Election Day wearing a button that read, “Vote for TJ.” Bridges was told campaign materials are not allowed to be displayed during Election Day.
“I thought that applied to the other person as well,” Bridges said. “If that’s not unfair, I have no idea what could be.”
Last year, Bridges and his brother Mitch ran for President and Vice President, respectively. When asked what he thought about voting being tampered with year after year because of a faulty server, Bridges had a silent moment.
“I never really thought about it,” he said.
Bridges and Collette ran on a platform with three major points: becoming involved with the decision-making process for the new chancellor, SGA dominance, and raising freshmen retention rates. The two had developed a system called “The Freshman Outreach Program” that was devised to get freshmen involved in a certain campus organization in order for them to get “attached to Western.”
“If you have them by the hard strings,” Bridges explained, “you’ll keep them.”