Panel denies request for new SAG ballots

Harper backers want change in light of recent agent deal

SAG’s raucous rerun election took a bizarre twist last week with requests for duplicate ballots denied for a day.

The denial, which lasted from Thursday morning to Friday morning, came after the American Arbitration Assn. received repeated requests for new ballots for the purpose of changing a vote in the hotly contested race. SAG said the association took the step in order to verify with SAG’s elections committee that voters could indeed switch votes.

Supporters of presidential contender Valerie Harper had suggested that members who had already voted for president Melissa Gilbert take such a step following last week’s announcement of a tentative deal between SAG and agents on loosening financial-interest rules in the master franchise agreement. Gilbert has strongly endorsed the deal.

SAG’s national board will vote on the deal March 11. SAG staff, which has hired high-profile PR consultants Mark Fabiani and Chris Lehane to help sell the deal to the membership, will hold briefings this week with board members about details of the tentative agreement.

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