After an extended voting period, USS delegate and former USG Vice President Ethan Milich and Samuel Ganthier win the USG presidency and vice presidency by a margin of just 56 votes.
“We are amazed, honored, and grateful to have received so much support in this year’s USG presidential election, and we want to say thank you,” said the Milich/Ganthier campaign in a statement on social media.
The results, released to the Vanguard on Tuesday afternoon, have Milich at the top with 257 votes, with Michael Davis and his VP Vanessa Collazos coming in with 201, and Dapo Ibrahim and Chika Otisi coming in third with 128 votes.
“We can’t win them all,” said Davis, “I care about BC and will continue to do what I can to make it better for students, faculty, and professor’s alike.”
Initially, the elections were to run from May 4 to May 6, but just before the polls were supposed to close, Student Activities sent a message deciding to extend the voting deadline to May 12, on the ground that the overall voter turnout wasn’t what it should be.
“CUNY issued a directive that all eligible students who are able to vote, must have the opportunity and access to vote,” said Hamilton Raymond, Associate Director of Student Activities in an e-mail to students.
In that same email, Raymond stated that only 3.5 percent of the undergraduate body had casted a vote, a sharp downturn from the 9 percent last year. Despite the extension, the Vanguard estimates that only 4 percent of the 14,978 undergraduate students participated in the election, a trivial rise in turnout. Still, Raymond says the extension was worth it.
“While the overall participation rate was low, extending the voting period saw an increase in student participation by 20 percent, affording more students the opportunity to let their voices be heard,” Raymond told the Vanguard.
Initially, all three candidates challenged the extension in a joint letter to the election commision.
“We oppose the sudden decision to extend the election by a period of nine days, as we are concerned this decision has been made in haste, without student consultation, and without consideration for the mental, emotional, and academic well being of the candidates and our teams,” the letter read.
Michael Davis still questions the validity of the results since the initial terms of the election were changed. “I do question who was the winner in the original voter tally from May 6th. So I’m disappointed in how the election process was handled,” he said.
The voting extension isn’t the only complication to the election results, with both Davis and Ibrahim seeking to investigate violations. Ibrahim challenged the results, alleging his opponents broke USG rules.
“Two of the candidates [Milich and Davis] openly violated the election campaign and the commissioner unconstitutionally covered it up,” Ibrahim told the Vanguard. He cites section 3, article D of the election rules, which states that candidates cannot solicit endorsements from student organizations outside of media groups like the Vanguard or WBCR. According to Ibrahim, Milich received an endorsement from the Bangladesh Student Union, and Davis from the Puerto Rican Alliance. Ibrahim is arguing the alleged endorsements gave his opponents an unfair advantage.
In a letter of response to Ibrahim’s initial allegations, election commissioner Daron Peters said that he found no reason to penalize Davis, on the grounds that there is no evidence that Davis’s team ever solicited the endorsement from the Puerto Rican Alliance, despite the club making a social media post of their support.
“We never shared or asked for the endorsement, and we immediately asked that it be rescinded until we get confirmation. Which we eventually did,” Davis told the Vanguard.
The allegation regarding Milich relates to the endorsement from BSA. Peters said in his letter that he chose not to penalize their campaign due to a “lack of evidence,” and that it took place before any candidates were officially validated, and before the campaign rules were implemented on April 21.
Davis also has a seperate, pending injunction against Milich’s campaign in relation to a post Milich made in the early days of the campaign, which said that students would be entered into a raffle for $25 if they filled out a campaign survey. At the time, the post was questioned by students on social media who claimed the post was a form of bribery. One of the election rules, Section 2, Article B, states: “The use of monetary funds, gifts, points, and transactional material Shall not be used to solicit, persuade, or stimulate student participation or votes.” As with the illegal endorsement, the post was deleted before the official election rules were released, making any violation of them null and void.
“So it appears that despite a clear violation nothing may be done. But, we are pursuing a fair investigation and that’s all we can ask for,” said Davis.
Despite the allegations against him, Milich says he is confident his victory will be upheld.
“Neither of which was a violation of an existing rule. Plus I removed both before the April 21 rules were implemented,” Milich told the Vanguard in regards to both allegations. “We are extremely excited to start appointing students to committees and working on our platform and towards achieving our goals,” he said.