Executive Cabinet Election Goes to Three-Candidate Runoff, Elections Percentages Still Unknown

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Students will vote on the new Associated Students of California Lutheran University Government president in an unusual runoff election featuring three candidates on Tuesday, March 5.

“To my knowledge I don’t think there’s ever been three people in a runoff,” ASCLU President Alexis Ghattas said.

The runoff election follows last week’s elections for the 2019-20 Executive Cabinet. Junior Senator Kimberly Lee, who ran unopposed, will be the new senate director.

If former ASCLU President Nick Steinwender, who was removed from office Feb. 25, does not win his appeal on March 11, Lee will also be appointed early to the current senate director vacancy.

After beating Junior Representative Azubah Collins and Junior International Representative Blessy Pinzon, Junior Chelsea Dunmire will be the Programs Board director.

Students will choose between Junior Senator John Basmajian, Junior Senator Stephanie Figueroa and Sophomore Senator Thomas Singelyn for ASCLU president by voting on Blackboard between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5. Sophomore Senator Karyme Lara Chagoya did not proceed to the runoffs.

In the fall, ASCLUG began releasing voter percentages to The Echo and the student body after a call for transparency. Ghattas said on Thursday, Feb. 28, the elections committee voted to stop releasing these numbers as they believe it will discourage people from running for office.

“If you didn’t win, it might be embarrassing,” Ghattas said. “We have had more people run in these past few executive cabinet elections than ever before…we want to keep that momentum going.”

The meeting minutes for this decision are not available, as all elections committee meetings and notes are considered closed and “confidential.”

Ghattas said each candidate knows their individual election percentage, and said she will “leave it up to the candidates” to disclose their percentages if they choose.

Figueroa said she learned of her election percentage via a phone call from Ghattas on Feb. 28. Figueroa said she received 18.25 percent of the vote.

According to the ASCLU bylaws, runoff elections are held between the two candidates with the highest percentages of votes when no candidate receives a majority. In a Feb. 28 press release, Ghattas said if there is a tie for the second-highest votes, all three candidates proceed to the runoff election.

However, no language regarding a three-way tie is included in the bylaws. Section V, Subsection 5.1, Item 4 of the ASCLU bylaws states, “If no candidate receives a majority, a runoff election will be held between the two candidates with the highest percentages of the total votes cast.”

Ghattas said in this election, given that there was a tie for second, they had no choice but to put both candidates on to the runoff. Additionally, Ghattas said if none of the three presidential candidates reach the 50 percent mark after the first runoff, they will go to a second runoff.

Ghattas said the elections committee will “have to vote on when the re-vote would be,” and said it will be “Friday or next week” as there is a one-day voting period.

According to Ghattas’ press release, new Executive Cabinet members will take their oath of office on April 29, 2019, and take office on May 1, 2019. Existing Executive Cabinet members who were not up for re-election will finish their terms on April 30, according to the 2019 ASCLU elections packet.

The 2019 executive cabinet elections had a turnout of 733 voters. However, this fell short of the 30 percent turnout goal declared by Steinwender last fall in an interview with The Echo. September’s general election only brought in 278 voters. Ghattas said last week’s election voter turnout fell short of record-breaking, as an election “before her time” had a turnout of “nearly 800.”

The Echo
Editorial Staff