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Archie C. Epps III, dean of students, will meet with Harvard Republican Club officers this Friday in an attempt to settle a controversy over absentee ballots in the club's elections last week.
Outgoing club president Hugh Hewitt '78 complained to Epps after Wednesday's elections when club members voted not to accept the 12 absentee ballots distributed before the elections.
Club members objected to the election committee's distribution of absentee ballots only to members who missed the voting because their final clubs were meeting at the same time, Carlton M. Smith '78 said yesterday.
In a meeting with Hewitt and two other club officers Monday Epps said he would hold the ballots "for safe-keeping" and he would not interfere with the election results. The ballots have not been opened.
Without the 12 absentee ballots, Robert Wiley '78 defeated William F. Harnett '78 in a 64 to 58 tally.
Epps said it wasn't his job to settle the dispute and he will suggest a procedure for handling the matter.
"Whatever happens eventually is up to Dean Epps's recommendation; if he suggests we send it back to the membership, I will try to act on that," Hewitt said last night.
"I'm not sure of the procedure, though. We may have to vote on that at the executive meeting Sunday night," he added.
Hewitt, who is also a member of the election committee, said the controversy stems partly from the fact that this was the first time the club accepted absentee ballots.
"The club constitution says the election committee will run elections, and we interpreted that to mean we could do what we felt was right," he said.
The election committee gave members of the Fox and Owl Clubs absentee ballots because the clubs would have fined the students if they missed those meetings in order to vote at the Republican Club meeting, Edward Mansfield '78, Republican Club policy director, said yesterday.
"Just to give absentee ballots to final club members and not to other people who missed the meeting is unethical," one Republican Club member who withheld his name said yesterday.
He said he thought the election committee paid special attention to final club members because "many members of those clubs are associated with the Republican Club."
"Admittedly it was tricky that only final club people got absentee ballots, but it was impossible to give them to everyone who couldn't make the meeting," Harnett, who lost the election, said yesterday.
"These people had told us two weeks in advance that they couldn't make the meeting," he added.
Harnett said whatever the ultimate outcome of the election is, he will abide by it. "I'm basically satisfied with the results of the election--most of our slate got on, and although being president would be desirable, it would require a lot of work," he said
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