Student Government

UPDATED: Candidate’s iPhone used as polling location

The Daily Cougar received firsthand knowledge of potential SGA election fraud Wednesday night — and the consequence may be disqualification.

Vice Presidential candidate Craig Premjee was seen using his iPhone as a polling location at the Den around approximately 7:45 p.m.

There were numerous witnesses, including Daily Cougar Opinion Editor Andrew Taylor, who saw the incident take place.

“Craig came up to us and asked, ‘Have you voted yet?’ I said no,” said economics senior Joeanthony Leyva. “He (Premjee) said, ‘If you want to vote right now, I’ve got it pulled up on my phone.’ So I signed in and I voted on his phone.”

The SGA election code prohibits this type of campaigning. Article 5, section 7, clause 1 defines a polling location as “a voting apparatus used by an individual other than the owner.”

Article 7, section 4, clause 1 — titled “Prohibited Methods of Campaigning” — states that candidates are prohibited from setting up any polling location, or interfering with a person using a voting apparatus in any way.

If this is found to be a violation, Article 10, section 1, clause 4 states three different penalties for election violations. A class three violation, which is the most serious, results in disqualification.

Premjee did not deny allowing people to vote on his phone. However, he did say that people asked to use his phone, not the other way around.

“Whenever someone asks me if they can use my phone to vote, I’m not going to say, ‘No, you can’t use my phone.’ I’m just going to give them my phone and walk away. I think that’s perfectly fine,” Premjee said.

“It may be explicitly stated like that in the election code, but when it comes down to it, an iPhone is just an electronic device that’s able to do these things.”

When asked about the situation, Presidential candidate Michael Harding said that he was aware of what Premjee was doing.

“OK, yeah, I mean, that’s what’s up, you know? People are trying to vote. A lot of times when people hear that we’re running, they just want to vote right then and there. And I know Craig provides them with a computer resource,” Harding said.

“Personally I have yet to see Craig use his phone to let people vote, but he has informed me that that has happened.”

For a full copy of the SGA election code, visit

UPDATE: Harding has been prohibited from campaigning for 24 hours as of Thursday morning. An official written complaint has been filed with the elections commission and is currently being reviewed. More information will be added as it becomes available. For the latest news on this story and others, follow The Daily Cougar on Twitter at @thedailycougar.


  • I hope this IS grounds for disqualification. If the rules are clearly stated, and clearly broken, but if SGA doesn't enforce their own rules, then the system is broken and they need to come up with a way to fix it. The people in question admit to doing it (and to doing it more than once). hopefully the right thing is done here.

  • I found a flier under my twisted windshield wiper two days ago. It was promoting the opposition of Harding/Premjee. I know for a fact that this is against the rules of SGA election code. I want to stand up and encourage people to vote for Harding/Premjee; at least they don't send me to AutoZone to buy a new windshield wiper.

      • Michael McHugh here. YOUR COMMENTS ARE OUTRAGEOUSLY FALSE! Never Never Never have I or any of my supporters even THOUGHT about putting our flyers on cars! This is baseless and absolutely not true.

    • Really? You want us to believe that a flyer from the opposition (who you don’t know) sent you to AutoZone for a new wiper? What was that thing made out of? Aluminum foil? Various organizations have been leaving fliers underneath my windshield for the THREE YEARS that I’ve lived at the Towers. Never did any damage to my car.
      Nice try trolling though. Better luck next time!

    • this is so stupid; if any body is complaining about something like this, it is because they support harding and premjee; harding stuffs fliers in my hands and steals the mchugh ones from me; i see him stuffing his pockets with stolen fliers from his competitior and trashing them

      why would anybody even campaign in the parking lots? i believe that you are lying

  • They can call it what they want – As candidates, they should know the rules, and the rules ban this. He ought to be disqualified.

    • the rules clearly state that candidates cannot create polling positions! (An i-Phone that's capable of voting online would be a polling place) If they asked, he could've told them to go use the library computers or any of the other facilities on campus equipped with computers.

      • Common Sense, you forgot to mention that he did not create the iPhone, Steve Jobs did. Also, I'll need to see where exactly this precise situation is covered in the rules. Dude wants to vote, asks to use Candidate's phone real quick, and votes. Show it to me Common Sense. Then I will accept that it is unlawful.

  • Based on my understanding of the SGA Election Code, Article 10, section 1, clause 4 states that disqualification is only a possible consequence if the violation was a Class Three Violation.

    According to Article 10, section 1, clause 3, this is only a Class Three Violation if the voting itself was fraudulent (which it doesn't appear to be), or if the candidate was aware that his action was a violation of the Election Code (which I assume will be subject to an official ruling).

    Otherwise, as a violation of Article 7: “Campaigning Practices”, (as the author has pointed out), it would only be classified as a Class One Violation, for which the penalty is a written warning.

    On a personal note, I understand the importance of getting this information out there, but I hope people take the time to examine what happened. I have no firsthand knowledge of the incident(s), but it seems that we should examine Mr. Premjee’s intentions. I share the concern about a possible conflict of interest, but I also advocate increasing awareness and participation throughout the student body, and his actions certainly accomplished this. I hope the final ruling on the incident, whatever it may be, is fair, objective and in the student body’s best interest, because after all, isn’t the purpose of Student Government to best serve the student body?

  • I mean, I'm not endorsing anything here. All I know is that 1 year they supposedly redid the election rules, leaving no ambiguities (what they said). So before you come on here and "white knight" me with your common sense and moral supremacy, bring me proof that the exact situation I mentioned above (which the guy claimed happened) violates these new rules. I am questioning that, and I seek an answer.

    • Whew, got some people who love to spam that thumbs down button.

      Article 7, Section 4, Clause 1:
      "i. Setting up any polling location;"

      Did he "set up" a "polling location?"

      That's all it comes down to really. Did he violate that? I think not. A "setup" implies some sort of solicitation for the polling station that was "setup." Looks like people asked to use his phone, no the other way round.

      At worst, even if you disagree, and even if he is found guilty of violating this rule (in the opinion of the people who decide)…he gets a written warning.

    • First of all, a polling location is clearly defined in Article 5, Section 7 as "a voting apparatus used by an individual other than the owner." If you hand someone any device that can vote, and they do, congratulations! You've just set up a polling location.

      Secondly, Article 7, Section 4 states that "setting up any polling location" is illegal campaigning. It also says that "any method that interferes with a person using a voting apparatus" is illegal — more nebulous here, but still probably applies.

      The real kicker — the one that's gonna send this straight to hell — is Article 10, Section 1. Two of the objectives that meets a class 3 violation is "aiding another student in fraudulent voting" OR "knowledge of the commission of a violation prior to or during its occurrence." Premjee said he knew it was against the rules. Harding said he knew it had happened and was happening. And they helped people fraudulently vote by explicitly violating election code and setting up a polling location.

      So, Mr. Krishen, what's your position now? Those are simply the facts. As to whether or not he was asked to hand his phone over or not, note that the politician — someone who has something to lose — disagrees with the common man, who has no stake in the matter. I usually side with the person who has no motive and no reason to lie.

      • Ah Mahnamahna ( Is this who I think it is? 😉 )

        My view stays the same. I did not argue that the phone was not a polling location. Anywhere you vote is safely assumed to be a polling location. That's not the issue. The law specifies the "setup" of a polling location. If, as he said he did, he was asked by someone to give over his iPhone, then I do not see it as a "setup." Going off of HIS words, it's not like he put a table down, stuck his iPhone on it, and ran around with a sign advertising it as a polling location. I guess I have a stricter definition of "setup" than most.

        As for the Article 10 stuff, it goes to the powers that be. It depends on how they interpret the Article 7 rules…it could be anything from a warning to going straight to hell.

        Now, if we had quotes from the numerous witnesses mentioned in the article, with more exact details implicating him in the solicitation of his iPhone as a polling booth (rather than what he said)…then my "ruling" would change. It's his word vs. an opponent's word and various rumblings…and I'm rolling with "innocent until proven guilty" until more exact quotes and details arise.

        Based off of the rulebook and what the man said (that he didn't solicit his iPhone as a voting booth, or to quote the article: "he did say that people asked to use his phone, not the other way around."), my conclusion is that I don't really see a blatant violation of the rules. Whether it's right or wrong, or whether the rules need updating is a different matter that I won't address here.

      • For what it's worth, I think you're working from the wrong definition of fraudulent voting. Because any eligible student is allowed to vote one time from any location, the location shouldn't make the vote fraudulent (whether or not it's a violation of any kind by the candidate). So based on those rules/rights (which are the ones every student must agree to before voting), a fraudulent vote would be a vote by a student who is ineligible, more than one vote by one student, or voting under a false identity.

  • I'm assuming that what he said happened is true, and questioning the voting rules from there. He said people asked to use his phone to vote, that he did not solicit the use of his phone for voting. I am questioning: 1) Is what he says happened true? 2) If so, does this actually violate a written rule, and if so, can you show it to everyone here? Everyone has different views on how elections and campaigns should be done…I don't care to know about that right now. I just want to know if rules were violated.

      • Weak comeback is weak.

        Seriously, just because I take a guy running for an election at his word means that I " just blindly support this guy?"

        Look, he wouldn't have gotten to the spot he's at without some work and credibility. Innocent until proven guilty. Based off of that, I'm willing to take his word on what happened unless actual evidence comes up saying otherwise. If people were asking to use his phone…well it, at best, dances around that rule in Section 7. It's really up to the powers that be to interpret said rule.

        Now to clarify a few things.

        I did not vote in this election. Why not? Because, frankly, school had taken over the past couple weeks, and I didn't seek out enough information to make an actual…informed vote. So as the lesser of 2 evils, I did not vote. Plain and simple. I'd rather not vote than randomly throw one in just to say I did.

        Next…is it possible to be unbiased and make a decision? Because, in sports, referees (for the most part) do exactly that as their job. So then there's me coming in here, not having voted because of school, not having even been solicited, not knowing much other than a couple names involved in the whole thing…basically 0 bias….trying to see if what this guy said he did/didn't do violates enacted rules…and I'm just a blind supporter now because I looked objectively at the rules and whatever little evidence has been given thus far and took a stance? Look, I ain't here to argue morals or ethics. Meaning…I ain't here to argue whether or not this was okay. I'm here to argue whether or not this actually violates any written rules. I have no sides, no bias to the full amount that a human could have in this situation.

        I took what was given: a man at his word and a rule book, and made a logical guess as to whether or not this rule was violated, which is one of the big questions here. That's it. I'm nothing but a ref here. If you want to argue what's morally right/wrong (as opposed to what's written as rules), do that with someone else who's actually arguing that…because I'm not.

  • So then it comes down to this exact line:
    "i. Setting up any polling location;"
    Sounds pretty vague to me, open to interpretation. I don't think he setup anything. Setting up a voting station could imply that he was soliciting said method of voting (hence why it was set up). According to him, people asked to use his phone, not the other way around. So I guess…we just disagree.

    • Obviously the interviewer CHOSE to include common jargon. How many times does some one say "uuh" or "you know" in everyday conversations, statements, or even interviews.

      A good reporter does not include these common phrases when it come to quotes. It's a well known fact amongst Journalist and reporters. The reporter had certain intention when he included that into the quote.
      If anything it REVEALS that the reporter is trying to slander the candidate for personal reasons. (Bais reporting)

      He or she could have easily started the quote at "People are trying to vote."

      Its disappointing to know that we have those type of reporters working for the Daily Cougar, but it doesn't surprise me when you look at the caliber of the paper and respectability of the Daily Cougar.

      • Go check out other Texas university student publications. You should be proud to have a student newspaper that focuses so much of its content toward the Univerisity. At least they are not running copied AP stories that you can find on the internet. Also if you read that quote again, the common jargon implies a lot about the candidate.

  • If it were me, I wouldn't leave all of my hard work and campaign effort up to interpretation of SGA bylaws. I sympathize with the candidate in the sense that most people once they walk away, will forget all about the polling, because people are lazy. However, it seems like a huge risk to take for a few votes. At the very least, he could have found a way to set a polling center by proxy without getting his hands dirty. In other words, get some friends with iphones to help you.

  • so if he would've had his own personal computer he also would've been in violation then, that is my understanding. Who is to say that all of the people around campus who had computers out and using them as a polling station, didn't personally own those? This is just a way to try to get some one disqualified, also who is to say that those who used his phone voted for him? Can they win with out trying to disqualify some one and let the votes speak for themselves. MAY THE BEST COOG WIN

  • Wait, so doesn't this all mean that if someone other than the owner uses a device it becomes a polling location. Which if your running for election is against the rules. However, you prevent some from voting it is also a violation. SO……if your running for election and someone walks up to you and asks "can i use your phone to vote?" no matter what your response you will be penalized for one those two violations.

    In other-words……..IT'S A TRAP!!!!

  • I would hand out free iPhones if it caused Michael McHugh to lose.
    Out of these two.. uhhhh… lovely candidates we have, I sure hope Harding wins. I'd be ashamed to have Michael McHugh as the voice of this university. ugh.

    • Sounds like you got a hard on for harding. ugh. Go hand out some free iPhones or something stupidface.

  • It will be easy to find people that will give a different account of Premjee's solicitation of votes than his own, which claims people "asked" to use his phone. Honestly, who would ask to use someone's phone to cast a vote instead of putting it off until later? Think about it. It doesn't make sense. It is obvious that Premjee offered his phone to be used as a polling station.

    Once the lie is exposed, then it's gameover. You cheat, you lose. No one wants a dishonorable leader, we have enough of those already in this world. What does the future hold for our generation, if this is how we are grooming our generation's leaders to be?

    No more cheats, no more liars.

  • If it was a friend, I can see someone asking another person to use his/her phone to vote. However, I do not see a stranger doing that.

    • either way he is blatantly guilty with his pants down
      he should be thrown out of office because this is embarrassing

  • Just because you murder 1 person, it doesn't make murder unlawful. Even if you know the rules, having one person vote on your phone, while you are aware, is still a violation. I feel like SGA has a good procedure to deal with these things, but I hope they do acknowledge that the rules were broken, and there are consequences for that.

    I do think the article may have been rushed, but the situation still happened. I guess we'll find out what the verdict is. I do wish all parties the best of luck. It's sad that their campaign was hindered by this.

  • to Critical Thinker: are you even trying to think? that is a stupid defense on their part
    these guys got caught cheating and your trying to justify them saying that this event "can not be taken seriously"
    you are an idiot; these guys are dirty cheats and deserve to be disqualified. i sure as hell don't want them representing me at this school
    maybe you can drop out of UH and work with these losers at Enron

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