Student Association candidates are preparing for a two-day runoff election this Wednesday and Thursday, three weeks after the original campus elections.
The student court, which postponed the runoff for a recount of ballots in the presidential race, ordered elections to proceed after the Joint Elections Committee released its latest results. Alexis Rice, who was originally declared the winner March 4, was found to be several votes short of the necessary 40 percent, and will face Phil Meisner in the runoff.
In the recount before the undergraduate spring break, witnessed by court-appointed independent observers, Rice received 39.86 percent of the vote and Meisner garnered 37.85 percent.
In the executive vice presidential race, Caity Leu is expected to face a runoff against Derek Grosso. But a recount of that race is expected Monday night, and challenger Cat Sadler may still have a chance to enter the runoff.
Rice said students’ frustration with the changes in results has pushed them to help more with her campaign.
“So many people are outraged, it has motivated people who were just supporters the first time to get more involved,” Rice said.
Meisner said he is having trouble informing students about the new election.
“We’re coming back two days before the election and you have to educate the electorate again,” he said. “It’s difficult to get to everyone and explain to them what is going on. It’s been a complicated few weeks; to explain that to an average voter is difficult.”
Meisner said one of his main concerns is motivating himself.
“There’s this energy that centers around any campaign that energizes the candidate,” he said. “But now we are entering into uncharted waters here. I have to muster a tremendous amount to motivate everyone else. It’ll come but it will be difficult.”
The JEC has said part of the problem with its counting was the enormous amount of write-in ballots it received, largely because it kicked Meisner and Sadler off the ballot for the original election.
Rice said the runoff, which will be entirely done on voting machines, should be more accurate.
“This time, there won’t be any confusion,” she said. “There’s going to be no discrepancy. I am more confident it will be a fair election.”
Meisner said his frustrations with the changing results have caused him to contemplate asking the student court to invalidate the original elections, causing all candidates to start from the beginning. He said he is probably not going to file such a claim but did not rule it out.
Meisner said he will make a final decision before voting Wednesday.
“I would never want to do that after the fact because it would be sour grapes,” Meisner said. “It’s so bad when you contest the validity of an election because it just hurts the whole process.”
He said many candidates have grounds to contest the elections, because of changes in EVP and Senate seats.
Rice said although she is nervous the elections may be completely invalidated, a fair runoff could avoid that. JEC members were unavailable for comment.
Rice said she prepared for the election during her spring break vacation in Florida.
“It’s definitely been a strange time,” she said. “We won once and we want to win again.”
Meisner said although he is coming from behind, he is optimistic for the future.
“It’s politics and anything can happen.”