SA election results change; court delays runoff

Three members of the Joint Elections Committee resigned Friday night hours after the committee announced its preliminary student election results were inaccurate.

Resha Shah, Kim McCaughey and Stefanie Weinstein said they resigned their spots on the committee because of academic concerns. The nine-member panel has shrunk to five students. Former chair Kevin Burkett resigned last week.

“They did what they thought was right,” said Kristen-Marie Kaczynski, JEC spokesperson.

The JEC announced Friday that Alexis Rice, who was declared Student Association president-elect early Thursday morning, was one vote short of the 40 percent threshold that would have given her an outright victory. JEC members will recount the votes and Rice may face a runoff against Phil Meisner March 24 and 25.

The court ruled executive vice presidential candidate Derek Grosso, not Cat Sadler, would face Caity Leu in a runoff the same days.

The three members who resigned said they support the JEC’s account of how results were tabulated, JEC Chair Jason Miller said.

Although McCaughey said she will stand by the final election results, she expressed frustration with the committee’s handling of the election process.

“The JEC is an expensive organization and this year it was not efficiently run,” she said. “There were bad decisions made.”

McCaughey, who served on the JEC last year, said her experiences on this year’s committee were different.

“I want to apologize to all of the students, all of the voters,” she said. “We tried our best, but the elections were definitely a less organized process than they should ever be.”

Miller said the incorrect results stemmed from “human error” because the committee members had not slept for days when they tabulated votes Wednesday night.

“It’s no doubt we had a real desire to plug away and get the results,” Miller said. “At the end of the night, we felt confident with our results.”

Committee members said they had 1,800 paper ballots to count. One member would check a stack of 100, and then a second member would verify it. A third member would review discrepancies.

Miller said he believes Friday’s counts are more efficient, because the JEC used a more effective system of tabulation and because committee members were more alert.

But some SA leaders expressed concern about how the JEC counted the ballots and the validity of the current results.

“I’m just suspicious because they spent so much time counting,” said undergraduate Sen. Jared Hosid (CSAS). “It just seems kind of weird. You don’t know if new ballots can show up. The whole circumstance surrounding this issue is very bizarre.”

“All our institutions are in shambles because of poor leadership,” SA Executive Vice President Jesse Strauss said. “We can’t rule out human error, and we can’t rule out fraud.”

Strauss said the JEC failed at its job and called the regulation of the election “despicable.”

“I think they should have stepped down,” Strauss said. “They couldn’t handle it.”

But graduate Sen. Emily Cummins (CSAS) said she respects the remaining JEC members. She said McCaughey was on the JEC last year and should take responsibility for the current JEC’s actions.

“It is ironic for senior members of the JEC to criticize their own body when they are the only ones who could have prevented a problem in the first place,” Cummins said.

Shah said the amount of write-in votes in this election was unusual and presented trouble for the JEC.

“This is an especially unique election season,” Shah said. “(The amount of write-in votes) threw a lot of us for a loop.”

McCaughey said she was not confident with the announced results Thursday because the votes were tallied so quickly.

Shah said JEC members were tired and some members stopped counting when they believed they could no longer count accurately. JEC Vice Chair Joe Bondi said lack of sleep presented a “hindrance” to the JEC. But JEC member Adam Kinsinger said although JEC members were tired, at least seven JEC members were counting at all times.

Mike Petron, Marvin Center Governing Board chair, said the JEC can still operate with its current five members.

“They’re just going to be short-manned,” said Petron, who added that the JEC used to consist of only five people.

Cummins said the JEC should continue its work overseeing elections.

“If you resign in a crisis, you’re cowardly,” Cummins said. “I fully support the SA appointees who are still on the JEC.”

But Strauss said because of this week’s problems, a shadow may be cast on next year’s leaders.

“This is the first year in SA history that there will be no real winner,” Strauss said. “Although the designated winner will get to celebrate, there will always be questions and they may not be considered a legitimate winner.”

-Theresa Crapanzano contributed to this report.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.