After reviewing its first case in over a decade, the College of William and Mary’s Student Assembly Review Board has ordered that the special election for the class of 2020 senatorial seats be held again. The Review Board arrived at this decision after hearing one case that questioned the constitutionality of provisional ballots and the accuracy of the special election, considering technical difficulties with TribeLink during the day of the election, Friday, Nov. 2.
“During deliberations after the hearing, the Review Board unanimously agreed with the remedies suggested by the petitioner and respondent — that a new special election take place before Thanksgiving break.”
“During deliberations after the hearing, the Review Board unanimously agreed with the remedies suggested by the petitioner and respondent — that a new special election take place before Thanksgiving break,” Review Board Chair Henry Blackburn ’20 said in a written statement. “The circumstances of the case were clear: the issues present in the last election were caused by human error with no intention to hurt anyone affected, be them (sic) candidates or voters.”
The formal hearing was held Sunday, Nov. 11 in Blow Memorial Hall. Angela Tiangco ’20, who initially lost the race by two votes, brought her case against Elections Commission Chair Sarah Baker ’19. Blackburn emphasized that before the hearing began, both Tiangco and Baker wished for the same resolution: a new election.
Review Board member Charlie Balaan ’19 recused himself from the case due to his friendship with Tiangco.
Earlier this semester, after three senators announced their resignation from the Student Assembly senate, the class of 2020 planned a special election for Nov. 2. During the day of the special election, class of 2020 President Kelsey Vita ’20 alerted the class of 2020 that some students were having difficulties accessing their ballots on TribeLink, and that those students could email their votes to Baker. These votes were then treated as provisional ballots. That night, Baker certified that Cody Mills ’20, JonDavid Nichols ’20 and Zie Medrano ’20 had won the election.
Later that weekend, three cases were opened with the Review Board. Sen. Jack Bowden ’19, Vita and Sen. Alec Friedman ’19 and Tiangco all brought forward concerns about whether or not such ballots were permitted in the SA Constitution, and about whether the technical difficulties had interfered with election-day outcomes. Bowden, Vita and Friedman withdrew their two cases as Tiangco’s was nearly identical to theirs and presented a greater challenge to the validity of the election.
After the hearing, Blackburn said the special election would need to be held again before Tuesday, Nov. 20. Additionally, the Review Board has charged the Elections Commission with ensuring that these technical difficulties do not occur again.
“Although it wasn’t an optimal situation, the electoral process was clearly compromised due to a mistake in the list of eligible voters in the class of 2020.”
“Although it wasn’t an optimal situation, the electoral process was clearly compromised due to a mistake in the list of eligible voters in the class of 2020,” SA President Brendan Boylan ’19 said in a written statement. “I’m proud of the Review Board’s commitment to institutional integrity, the adaptability of the Elections Commission, and the patience of the fine candidates running for senate.”
Boylan said that before the SA senate meeting Tuesday, Nov. 13, he will be meeting to discuss the date of the next special election. He said that he anticipates that the election will be held before the end of this week, and that candidates will not be allowed to campaign further. However, he said that SA plans to continue to publicize the election via email and social media.
Mills, Medrano and Nichols, along with the rest of the candidates, will now be up for election once again. Medrano said that when he found out about the Review Board’s decision, he was relieved to hear that they were working to make sure that the election was run properly.
“As we vote for the second time to elect our senators, I am optimistic that the class of 2020 knows the importance of this re-vote,” Medrano said in a written statement. “The other candidates and I have already made our cases to the voters, but this second election is an important opportunity to ensure that the junior class may select its best representatives for Student Assembly. I want to express my gratitude to the class of 2020 for their consideration and attention for the voices of all of our qualified candidates.”