FROM THE ARCHIVES: 1957 Sac State student elections re-done after Hornet article

Poll workers failed to verify voter identities


Jay Weldon - The State Hornet

HOW IT’S DONE – Norm Kempster, the editor of The Hornet, is shown casting his phony ballot in the senior class election Friday. Kempster was one of four staffers to vote illegally. The event has been rescheduled for today.

Ronaldo Gomez

On May 15, 1957 an investigation by what was then called The Hornet found how easy election fraud was in student government elections at Sac State, causing the Associated Students of Sacramento State College President Tom Willoughby to order results be thrown out in order to have a fair election.

Election results were tainted after poll workers failed to verify student status, which led to claims of ballot stuffing. This was the first time an election was challenged on campus.

The State Hornet — formerly ‘The Hornet’ — reported about how easy it would have been to sneak votes past.

“I voted in the senior class election. So did three other members of The Hornet staff. None of us were eligible to vote in any class election because we are all scheduled to graduate this June,” Norm Kempster reported, “We merely secured ballots, wrote ‘I am a graduating senior.’ across the face and dropped it into the box.”

The article reads, “As a result, twelve defeated candidates for various office get a second chance today to win the position they campaigned for last week.”

Results of the faulty election resulted in Fred Hodder winning Senior Class Presidency. After an “honest” election, as reported in the article, Bruce Porter held the position from 1957-1958.

Following the recent ASI elections that took place April 9-10, ballot stuffing is not something that to be concerned with, says current ASI President Noel Mora.

“I’ve never heard of ballot stuffing happening in recent times,” Mora said. “I saw the article at The State Hornet 70th anniversary (exhibit). Modern elections systems would prevent that from happening.”

Mora mentioned that students are required to have a unique student login in order to vote online in ASI elections today. This is one measure that Sac State has taken in order to prevent tampering.

The State Hornet is celebrating its 70th anniversary with stories from our archives. Below is the original article by The Hornet Staff, published May 15, 1957. For more throwback content, click here.

Willoughby Sacks Election Returns; New Vote Today

Tom Willoughby used his executive authority as Associated Students president to declare Friday’s class elections fraud due to fraud and ballot stuffing at the polls. Willoughby slated another election today.

The polls will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Douglas hall and the Cafeteria.

In a letter to Nanel Pierce, coordinator of elections, Willoughby stated that “persons inelligible to vote were… issued ballots and allowed them to cast them. In view of these facts the announced results of that election cannot possibly be held valid.”

Willoughby’s letter continued “By the executive authority of the ASSSC I therefore delcare the results of May 10 elections to be void and hereby grant your request to hold new elections.”

As a result, twelve defeated candidates for various offices get a second chance today to win the position they campaigned for last week.

Results of the illegal election were: Senior class president: Fred Hodder, 75; Wayne Estelle, 64; Tom Johnson, 49. Vice-President: Audrey Hickman, 80; Arliene Wright, 79. Secretary: Jackie Woods, 146. (Unopposed). Treasurer: Phil Scotch, 85; Marilyn Benjamin, 75.

Junior class president: Jack Wolfe, 63; Bob McCarthy, 57; Dean Olson, 37 write-ins. Vice-president: Janet Spellman, 79; Margot Doolin, 62. Secretary: Elaine Pellegrine, 85; Sandra La Fontaine, 60. Treasurer: Judy Scourkes, 81; Doug Decker, 65.

Sophomore class president: Dick Griffin, 85; Roger Courtney, 70; Bea Findley, 39. Vice-president: Sandy Scott, 86; Jack Hansen, 82. Secretary: Ranae Blake, 174. (Unopposed). Treasurer: Nancy Gregory, 164. (Unopposed).