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Election Frauds

By William H. Bachman

I JUST received in the mail the Harvard Coop's Ballot for Student Directors, and as usual, I studied it thoroughly. Some perverse drive forces me every year to examine meticulously the qualifications of each candidate.

I am convinced that a main purpose of this annual ritual is to make me realize how dismal my college record will appear to recruiters next to those of these stellar individuals. Every one: St. Prestigious School; National Junior Olympic Fencing Team (alternate); Organizer of National End Hunger and Racism Day; rebuilt moribund economy of newly democratic East European nation, 10 hrs/wk; co-authored with Nobel laureate a paper on high energy non-linear amorphous superconductors; intramural basketball.

These resumes demolished any sense of personal worth I had left. What am I doing with my college years?

Right now, my entry would go something like: Hopes to graduate from Harvard in 1992, or within a few years of then; can develop black and white film; successfully completed high school, regularly makes his mother proud.

With all of those impressive resumes, I was clueless as to how to make my choice. And I do want my voice to be heard; ever since 1989, when I missed voting in my local town council and school board elections, I have felt guilty about being part of the apathetic American electorate.

My Coop ballot says the election results won't be valid unless 5 percent of eligible students vote, so I guess the Coop expects an apathy rate of 95 percent.

Well, this time I'm going to stand up and be counted. My voice will be heard.

BUT I'm still left with the problem of whom to choose. I've spent several long minutes coming up with some strategies for selecting Coop directors. Here are a few:

Boost the stars: I considered choosing the 11 candidates with the longest resumes. Let's face it: this student directorship game is just another resume filler, so I would vote--in the spirit of Social Darwinism--for the longest laundry list, measured in inches, thus strengthening the breed of our future Wall Street superstars.

This strategy may well glean the best 11 choices, but my burning democratic spirit forced me to dispense with this cynical path and consider....

Boost the Nobodies: Vote for the weak and helpless--first-year students, candidates with short laundry lists and non-economics concentrators. The stars, with their Olympic fencing competitions, graduate-level research and part-time consulting jobs, probably won't have a lot of time to plan "Thousand Points of Light" sales, anyway. Better to vote for the pathetic ones who list "Cashier, Union Candy Store" as their main extracurricular activity.

Vote for the Favorite Offspring: The Coop advises that you "may wish to cast your ballot for the primary purpose of affecting distribution of directors among schools." ("Hey MIT, how many Coop student directors you got, huh? Looks like the statutory minimum now, doesn't it?") This parochial strategy beats out voting by resume length, but not by much.

Non-ordered Choice: Taking the lead from Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57, I considered trying to increase the diversity of the board of directors by introducing randomization to the balloting. But I figured that as soon as I revealed this plan, some over-anxious first-year publicity hound would arrive at my door with a petition.

Vote for Competence: I figured that after I investigated what student directors actually do, I would call the candidates and question them on their positions. Eleven out of 15 candidates will be elected, and by about the fake press conference in the Herald Wednesday, and called the Ritz-Carlton using the pseudonym of attorney Tim Johnson to demand the name of the event's sponsor.

Upon learning that an organization called Utopia Time Company sponsored the fake Maples appearance, Hurley realized that only the Lampoon could have been responsible. According to Hurley, Utopia Time Company is a pseudonym commonly used by the Lampoon.

Hurley said he then told the Ritz-Carlton spokesperson he was representing the Maples party and was outraged his client had been misrepresented. The hotel spokesperson offered him free use of a press conference room in retribution, he said.

Next, Hurley called Joseph P. Kahn of the Boston Globe and Norma Nathan of the Boston Herald to inform that he, attorney Tim Johnson, was planning a press conference today at the Ritz to address the misrepresentation of Maples. Hurley added that Maples' "new boyfriend"--one Jeffrey P. Hurley--would also be present to discuss a "personal matter."

"They bought the whole thing," said Hurley.

"We were duped," Kahn acknowledged yesterday.

Hurley's prank met with approval yesterday from one of the nation's most notorious professional pranksters. Alan Abel, who earlier this year tricked the New York media into believing that a "perfect woman"--beautiful, single and generous--had won $30 million in the New York lottery, said such deceptions serve a valuable role in American society.

"I don't think anyone should have to apologize for making pranks--the public is entitled to them," said Alan Abel, the professional prankster who thought up the fake New York Lottery winner prank in February.

Abel, who has pulled off many pranks on a national and international scale, including a UFO sighting in Russia, is considered an expert in the field.

"I'm all in favor of anybody stopping the presses with a prank because the news corps has an insatiable appetite for calamities and disasters and the public needs a few giggles every now and then," said Abel, who devises his schemes in an old train caboose in his Westport, Conn. backyard. "Pranks are a lot of fun and the public loves them, so I see nothing wrong with them."

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