The GUSA Senate has decided not to certify the results of the presidential election, instead opting for a run-off between the top four candidates, DW Cartier (COL ’09), Pat Dowd (SFS ’09), Kyle Williams (COL ’09) and David Dietz (COL ’10). The second round of voting will begin Tuesday evening and end Thursday at noon, with the Election Commission hoping to announce the winner by Friday (they will have to wait until after Spring Break to officially inaugurate whomever that is).
Election Commissioner Maura Cassidy (COL ’08) presented the results, which she called “cloudy.” She had to go through eight rounds of IRV in order for any candidate to receive a majority of the vote. She also said there was “an obvious correlation” between candidates’ spots on the ballots (which were ordered alphabetically) and the number of votes they received in the later rounds. The winning candidate, Cartier, did not take the lead until the eighth round.
“I think that it’s much different to say ‘congratulations on your majority’ than to say ‘congratulations on being behind for eight rounds and then picking up 300 votes at the end,’” current GUSA president Ben Shaw (COL ’08) said.
There were also concerns about the instructions to voters to rank all candidates since IRV is supposed to allow voters to rank as many or as few candidates as they like. Cassidy did count the votes of people who voted for the same candidate multiple times, treating the repeat votes as a single first-choice selection.
“IRV is a terrible choice if you have more than four candidates,” GUSA Senator Zack Bluestone (SFS ’09) said. “It’s hard to put ourselves on the line and probably get ridiculed … I don’t think we can certify an election in good faith that doesn’t look indicative [of the will of the student body]. There are too many question marks.”
Cassidy recommended that the Senate not certify the results. They agreed, voting 16 to 2 (with 3 abstentions) to deny certification. During a brief recess, Cassidy, Shaw and GUSA Vice President Matt Appenfeller (COL ’08) crafted a proposal for the run-off election.
The run-off will be between the top four candidates. Cassidy argued that there is a clear division between the top four candidates, who received more than 400 first-place votes each, and the bottom four, who received less than 200. Sean Hayes (MSB ’10) and his running mate Andrew Madorsky (MSB ’10), who placed fifth, protested, calling the cut-off “arbitrary.”
Electronic and in-person campaigning will be allowed, but candidates cannot spend more money or put up fliers or signs. The election commission is planning on putting up non-partisan fliers and setting up voting booths in Leo’s. In the broadcast email that will be sent to the student body each candidate will be allowed to include a 100-word blurb. The candidates will appear in a random order on the ballot and voters will be able to rank as many or as few as they want.
Given the history of GUSA election scandals, some Senators felt that rejecting the results would reinforce GUSA’s negative reputation. They also worried that the run-off election would have a much lower turn-out than the original, which boasted 2,428 votes.
“Are we saying this doesn’t represent the student voice and the next election will?” asked Senator Brian Wood (COL ’09). “I think it would be less legitimate. I just don’t think you’re going to get the student voice.”