Absentee ballots may prompt run-off

Josh Singer won the Student Association presidential election by a margin of nine votes over Phil Robinson, 867 to 858, election officials announced Friday. But the outcome still hangs in the balance, as the Joint Elections Committee scrutinizes ballots and prepares to hear complaints about the election.

The JEC, which has not certified a winner, is focusing on a vote cast
from one student studying abroad which has not been verified as legitimate, said Scott Sheffler, the committee’s chair. If one vote for Singer goes against him, the election will go to a run-off.

“It is more likely than not that we have a problem,” Sheffler said. “(A run-off) is a possibility.”

Junior Bryan Gless won the Program Board executive chair position with 37 percent of the vote, and Eric Daleo won the SA’s executive vice president slot unopposed.

According to the JEC, 2,167 students cast their ballots in the first-ever GW online elections. Singer took 40.009 percent of the vote, slightly more than the 40 percent needed to win the election without a run-off election.

The JEC recounted presidential ballots Sunday because of the close margin. Robinson lost one vote and sophomore Dani Greenspan gained two from the original count, which was announced at about 11 a.m. Friday after a night of delays.

Sheffler said one of the 25 votes for SA president cast by study abroad students “is a potential problem.” Sheffler said he will confirm whether the vote came from an eligible voter Monday morning by checking with the Office for Study Abroad.

If Singer loses a vote and falls below the 40 percent mark, a run-off election would take place Wednesday and Thursday between Singer and Robinson.

“I think it definitely proves that every vote can and does make a difference,” SA President Roger Kapoor said.

Sophomore presidential candidate Dani Greenspan finished in third place with 386 votes, or 17 percent of the vote.

“We had a great turnout. It really showed students care about the issues,” Greenspan said. “Unfortunately, Singer doesn’t have much of a mandate.”

After election results were delayed for more than 10 hours starting at midnight Friday, Sheffler announced that Singer won the election. The vote count was delayed because graduate students cast 535 paper ballots, more than the JEC had anticipated.

“It’s really amazing,” Singer said when the outcome was announced in the Hippodrome. “Everyone was working, and we got a lot of freshmen to help.”

Singer said he intends to finish strong as EVP and, if confirmed the winner, will begin work with his transition team.

The 12-member “Working for Us” slate, led by Singer, saw 10 of its candidates win Friday.

“It feels great,” re-elected SA Sen. Dan Moss (U-SBPM) said. “It’s good that we’re friends, and we’ll work on the same goals.”

Sophomores Mohammed Ali, Aaron Binstock and Moss, who were roommates last year, each won their Senate races.

Zack Beyer, Alice Lingo, Raj Parekh, Blythe Purdin and Lee Lubarsky were elected to the Marvin Center Governing Board.

Robinson’s campaign was silent when Sheffler announced the results Friday.

“I feel kind of lousy,” Robinson said. “I feel bad for the people who spent a lot of hours on my campaign.”

The Singer campaign filed three new violations against Robinson Sunday, while Robinson filed a protest against certifying Singer the winner before he could review the ballots.

One complaint filed against Robinson alleges that he lied during a Friday JEC hearing over a press release posted on the GWBlitz Web site. Sheffler said the JEC could not hear the complaint because “perjury” does not fall within the group’s jurisdiction.

Robinson said he was frustrated at the continued violations filed against him.

“I’m really at a loss for words. I just lost, they just won, and I can’t believe they are going to go through with the violation,” Robinson said. “I don’t know why they are doing this, because they are on top right now.”

Robinson is contesting the outcome, asking to review the ballots and pointing out “several irregularities in the voting procedures,” including stations that ran out of ballots during voting, according to the complaint.

Sheffler said the campaigns are still hard at work.

“Both sides are looking for ways to scrutinize the election process,” Sheffler said. “It is not possible to run a flawless election.”

–Mosheh Oinounou contributed to this report

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