General News

Is actress Gilbert really new SAG prez?

By:
Nov 20, 2001 | 10:09am EST

Actress Melissa Gilbert has been elected the 23rd president of the Screen Actors Guild, beating actress Valerie Harper by 1,588 votes. Or has she?

A contingent of SAG members are calling for a revote and accusing union staff and polling administrator Sequoia Voting Systems of mishandling the election process.

About 30 members staged a protest Monday in front of the Los Angeles SAG headquarters, picketing with signs reading "SAG Election Corrupt" and handing out letters of protest to be given to SAG CEO Bob Pisano.

Organizer Klein Al'n told Variety that members are angry over SAG staff involvement and the disparities in election procedures. The allegations involve the counting of 260 more New York ballots than were deposited in the official post office box; 24,800 New York ballots without the required signature lines on return envelopes; and the unannounced two-day extension for voters in New York.

Presidential candidate Eugene Boggs, who came in third, told Variety he believes Gilbert would have lost the election if the rules had been followed.

"This SAG 2001 election is appropriate for seeking judicial action that would result in the election being voided and rerun," Boggs said. "But for the violations, Valerie Harper, not Melissa Gilbert, probably would have won."

SAG has insisted that the election on Oct. 30 was run within Dept. of Labor guidelines but wouldn't elaborate to Variety about how it could break its own rules.

The guild's election committee will conduct an investigation to these challenges Wednesday and has until Dec. 16 to make a decision.

Gilbert has stated she has no concern about the election and will take over her responsibilities as soon as possible.

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