Woes mounting in SAG vote accounting

SAG’s election saga keeps topping itself.

And with about a dozen challenges to the final tally expected before the elections committee meets Nov. 21, the aftermath of the bitterly fought contest that saw Melissa Gilbert defeat Valerie Harper for president has the town scratching its collective head over what will emerge next.

In the most recent twist, Sequoia Voting Systems exec Robbin Johnson admitted Nov. 15 that there were 260 more ballots counted in New York than were deposited in the post office box. Johnson blamed the Postal Service for the disparity.

Sequoia was already taking heat after the election over a lack of signature lines on the Gotham ballots (Variety, Nov. 5-11). SAG itself was under fire for an unannounced extension of the Gotham deadline and allegations of staff involvement in campaigning.

In the ongoing drama of SAG politics, plot twists have emerged almost daily:

Harper, secretary-elect Elliott Gould and treasurer-elect Kent McCord pledged Nov. 12 to challenge the results jointly, even though Gould and McCord won their contests.

McCord, meanwhile, pointed out that SAG staff told the elections committee Nov. 1 that the signature requirement was actually dropped prior to the 1997 vote but that the change was never communicated to members.

Nonetheless, SAG proceeded with plans to let winners assume their new posts, even though the challenges may create a procedural quagmire: With decisions by the elections committee appealable to the national board if they violate the SAG constitution, it’s uncertain whether the new board or the old one would be the appropriate body to hear such an appeal.

Even national deputy exec director John Sucke poured gasoline on the fire, criticizing the losing side in a speech at a New York membership meeting.

And despite the mounting PR damage, SAG continues to maintain a no-comment policy. National director of communications Greg Krizman resigned abruptly Nov. 16, explaining that he plans to relocate to Ohio.

CEO Bob Pisano, who joined SAG on Sept. 10, remained as silent as the Sphinx about the controversy, but must be wondering just what he’s gotten himself into.

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