An candidate for the Tuscaloosa City School Board in Alabama has appeared to defeat his opponent by just 72 votes after a sorority got behind him by offering free drinks and limo rides to the polls to encourage people to vote. In all, more than 60 percent of the people who signed up to vote during the final week were college-aged women.
In an email obtained by Al.com, University of Alabama sorority members were promised “incentives” to vote for Cason Kirby and Lee Garrison.
“In a list that was e-mailed to me this weekend, y’all are the only [members] registered in the specific district that are allowed to vote,” the email says. “Cason Kirby, a past [Student Government Association] president of the University of Alabama is running for the City Board of Education, and Lee Garrison a UA Alum is also running.”
“They would really appreciate/need your vote to win this election. It’s going to be really tight, and it is SO IMPORTANT that they get the Greek Vote. I told both of them that I would do my best to make sure that I got every Chi O that was registered to the polls. There is a big incentive for you going as well!!”
Included in the five “incentives” were additional “points” in the Panhellenic system to up their sorority rankings. And the author noted that “they rented out Innisfree and Moe’s” — two bars in downtown Tuscaloosa — where sorority members would be able to get free drinks with their “I Voted” stickers.
Al.com reported that Cason Kirby was seen celebrating at the Innisfree bar after his win on Tuesday night.
On Wednesday, Al.com reviewed voter registration records and found that more than 60 percent of the people who signed up to vote in the final week were college-aged women. The records showed that of the 267 last-minute registrants, 256 were born after 1990 and 224 were women.
And 76 percent of people who registered in the month of August listed their address on Sorority Row at the University of Alabama. All of the 45 women who registered in the last 48 hours claimed the Delta Gamma house on Sorority Row as their residence.
WIAT reported that 11 students used one single family home as the address on their voter registration.
On Tuesday, stretch SUV limousines, vans and a passenger bus were seen taking students from Sorority Row to the polling place.
Incumbent Kelly Horwitz, who was supported by the College Democrats, had not conceded and was still deciding on Wednesday whether or not to contest the election. She told WAIT that the email offering incentives appeared to be “illegal.”
In a statement, Kirby thanked “all of my supporters and volunteers who worked so hard during this campaign.”
“I would not be able to represent District 4 without their help,” he said. “I want to thank everyone who voted and supported my vision for our schools. I can’t wait to hit the ground running and represent my district on the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education to give our kids the best education possible.”
Watch this video from WAIT, broadcast Aug. 28, 2013.
(h/t: Talking Points Memo)