SA readies for run-off

Juniors Lee Roupas and Omar Woodard are set to face off this week to determine who will be the next Student Association president. Executive vice presidential candidates Ed Buckley and Anyah Dembling will also compete in the run-off, scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.

The Joint Election Committee announced election results at about 8:35 a.m. Friday, waking about 30 sleeping students on the Hippodrome’s chairs and couches. Election results were announced at 5:15 a.m. following the final day of voting last year. JEC officers attributed the increase in counting time to a larger number of paper ballots and fewer computerized voting spots this year.

Woodard, who received 1,013 votes, beat Roupas by more than 300 votes. In a tight race for second place, presidential candidate Isaiah Pickens lost to Roupas by 24 votes.

Voter turnout eclipsed last year’s mark by 100, with 2,990 undergraduate and graduate students casting ballots for one of the nine presidential candidates.

Pickens said he asked the JEC Friday to perform a recount, which will begin Monday at noon. The JEC will count ballots until it gets the same number twice, and the second place winner will compete against Woodard.

“It was so close between myself and Lee that anything could have happened … I’ve worked too hard to slip away that easily,” Pickens said.

Pickens said he will back Woodard with his “name and word” if he does not participate in the run-off.

Presidential and EVP candidates need to garner 40 percent of votes to win the election outright, which no students received. This week’s run-off will mark the third year in a row students will have to go back to the polls to pick the next SA president. Victorious candidates gasped with excitement Friday morning when they found out election results, and embraced their campaign teams and friends.

Roupas, wiping away tears, said he was exhausted and excited after the announcement, and called his mother on his cell phone to tell her the news.

He said he knows that he and Pickens’ vote counts were very close, and is “obviously hopeful that (the vote tally) will still be in (his) favor.”

He also said he will not “worry about numbers,” even though Woodard garnered 34 percent of the vote while he received 23 percent.

Roupas’ platform focuses on late-night dining options, getting student members on the Board of Trustees and online services. Roupas serves as chairman of the College Republicans and is an SA undergraduate senator-at-large.

Woodard said he was “very confident” about the race. A former Elliott School of International Affairs senator and current Black Student Union president, Woodard’s initiatives include an online class wait system, Colonial Cash program review and residence hall renewal project.

“We’ll really keep the momentum we had (last week), we’re going to continue to run strong,” Woodard said.

Presidential candidates Glenn Dym received 148 votes, Alex Rochestie 126, Ruarri J. Miller 125, Justin “The Lex” Luther 82, Joe Venti 61 and Dan LeClar 59.

John Plack, chair of the JEC, said JEC members counted paper ballots from about 12:30 a.m. to 6 a.m. Friday. Voters’ names were also double-checked, and computerized and absentee votes were added to the final tally.

Students waited in anticipation, walking between the Hippodrome and fourth floor of the Marvin Center. An “election slumber party” started at 10 p.m. Thursday, and students ate free cookies and fruit.

By about 2 a.m. Friday, several candidates and their supporters took advantage of the comfortable couches on the fifth floor of the Marvin Center and slept. Some Woodard supporters started a game of bowling in the wee hours, screaming loudly and enthusiastically for team members.

Dembling said after the results were announced that she had been at the Hippodrome since 3 a.m. and had “no idea” how the election would turn out.

“It’s going to be another long, hard week,” said Dembling, an SA Elliott School senator and chair of the Student Life Committee.

Buckley called the election “incredibly exciting” and said he’s looking forward to getting his message out this week. Buckley serves as SA associate vice president for special projects.

Last year, about 800 fewer students voted in the run-off than in the general election. But the ’01-’02 election was marked by a 300 vote increase in the run-off.

Dembling garnered about 35 percent of the vote, Buckley 31 percent, candidate Asher Corson 23 percent and candidate Anthony Moniello 11 percent.

Several unsuccessful candidates dropped into the Marvin Center throughout the night, and some set up camp in the Hippodrome. Pickens was visibly upset as election results were announced. He and his campaign team gathered in the back of the Hippodrome to talk for a few minutes afterward.

“We’ve got winners on our team, and some are not used to be coming up on the losing end,” said Will Donovan, Pickens’ campaign manager, after the vote was announced. “When you put your heart and soul into something, that was really (what was important).”

Several candidates said they were unimpressed with the election process because of mishaps that occurred last week. Some paper ballots were marked with wrong information Wednesday, and more paper ballots than expected were used because of computer problems.

Students could vote on computers in Thurston Hall, the Marvin Center and Monroe Hall. Funger and Ross halls’ electronic system was unavailable because of a problem with jacks, and the Mount Vernon Pub’s access was intermittent. The Marvin Center lab also did not work for the first hour of polling Wednesday.

Jordyn Cosme, newly elected undergraduate senator at-large, said the election was “very poorly put together.”

“My name didn’t appear on the ballot for an hour (after the polling started Wednesday),” said Cosme, referring to the undergraduate at-large ballots that were missing.

Ballot boxes also make it easier to misplace election results, candidates said.

After election results were tabulated Friday, the JEC found an extra ballot box from the Mount Vernon Campus in its office. Covered in a stack of papers, the box contained 66 ballots.

The JEC added the votes to the total tally Friday, but no results changed. Roupas and Pickens each received five extra votes.

Plack, of the JEC, said he wants to see students only use computer voting in the future. He also said he would like all students to be able to vote in their rooms electronically.

Tim Miller, associate director of the Student Activities Center, said officials want to add more computer sites next year, but electronic voting in rooms could pose security risks.

Students can vote in the run-off in the Marvin Center, Mount Vernon Pub and Funger, Monroe, Ross and Thurston halls from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday.

-Jennifer Nedeau contributed to this report.

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