Friday, Nov. 2, the class of 2020 elected Cody Mills ’20, JonDavid Nichols ’20 and Zie Medrano ’20 as Student Assembly Senators in a special election. Sunday, Nov. 4, the College of William and Mary’s Student Assembly Review Board received three cases, calling into question the ways in which votes were collected and counted. In the meantime, SA Elections Commission Chair Sarah Baker ’19 has announced that Friday’s results, which were previously certified, are now pending.
SA held the special election in response to the resignation of Sen. Abhi Chadha ’20, Sen. Clare DaBaldo ’20 and Sen. Sarah MacPhee ’20, who are unable to remain in SA as they will be studying abroad next semester. SA Senate was planning to inaugurate the newly elected senators Tuesday, Nov. 6, but at this point it is not clear if that will still happen.
The Review Board cases concern technical difficulties that occurred during the day of the elections. Class of 2020 President Kelsey Vita informed the 2020 student body via email that multiple students had difficulties accessing their ballots on TribeLink for the special election. In response, SA asked students encountering the issue to send the names of the three candidates they wished to vote for through an email to Baker.
The three cases, brought forward by Vita, Sen. Alec Friedman ’19, Sen. Jack Bowden ’19 and Angela Tiangco ’20 question the constitutionality of using “provisional ballots” as well as whether or not the provisional ballots can be counted. Additionally, Tiangco brought forward concerns that technical difficulties during the day of the election threw off results.
“Alec and I submitted a case initiation to the Review Board because we gathered that the technical difficulties faced on Election Day prevented some students from voting, and the margin was close enough for the outcome to have been different should every student have been able to vote,” Vita said in a written statement. “It’s important that every student has a voice in their representation, and I received multiple complaints about issues accessing the ballot. While I sent out a class email about submitting provisional ballots as soon as we realized there was an issue, this was not until 4:30 pm; some students who may have planned to vote in the morning due to time conflicts would have still not been able to vote in this case.”
According to Review Board Chair Henry Blackburn ’20, these were the first cases the Review Board has had since becoming active again this year.
Out of the 961 students who voted, Mills received 176 votes for a total of 18.31 percent of the vote, Nichols received 131 votes for a total of 13.63 percent of the vote and Medrano received 123 votes for a total 12.8 percent of total votes. Two students, Liz Holmes ’20 and Samuel Towler ’20, withdrew from the race before Friday.
Angela Tiangco ’20 fell two votes short with 121 votes, or 12.6 percent of the total vote. Nick Thomas ’20 received 113 votes for a total of 11.76 percent of the vote. Caroline Garman ’20 received 101 votes for a total of 10.51 percent of the vote. Alicia Draper ’20 received 85 votes for a total of 8.84 percent of the vote. Maddie Talnagi ’20 received 66 votes for a total of 6.87 percent of the vote. Jaret Anderson ’20 received 45 votes for 4.68 percent of the total votes.
Although not elected, Angela Tiangco ’20 was endorsed by SA President Brendan Boylan ’19 on his Facebook page.
Mills focused his campaign on the mental health of LGBTQ students, particularly the mental health of transgender students, as well as improving the Freestanding Emergency Call Boxes or the “blue light” system and increasing menstrual product access on campus.
“I felt so excited to know that my classmates saw me as the right choice, heard the message I was trying to give and were receptive to it,” Mills said in a written statement. “It also makes me excited because at the core I was trying to focus all of my campaign work on LGBTQ issues that are often swept under the rug, especially in terms of LGBTQ mental health, and so to see that a good amount of people thought that issue should be a priority also made me really happy. I was mostly just happy to know that I get to be a part of a lot of really interesting and important decisions being made and I hope I can highlight a lot of the issues I ran on.”
Nichols anchored his campaign in student’s personal interests and assisting students in finding their community. Prior to his election as senator for the class of 2020, Nichols served as secretary of student life for SA, a position appointed by Boylan and SA Vice President Samir Tawalare ’19.
To fill Nichols’ vacancy, Boylan and Tawalare will have to appoint a new secretary of student life.
“I am profoundly grateful to the class of 2020 for this opportunity to be a reliable representative in Student Assembly,” Medrano said. “Learning the election results was tremendously exciting, as I have long been eager to take on a role of this nature at the College. I look forward to getting to beginning efforts to improve campus mental health, safety on Richmond Road, diversity in our community and other priorities important to members of the class of 2020.”
– Reporting contributed by Flat Hat Editor-in-Chief Sarah Smith.