Presidential Election Moves into Runoff Vote
Issue   |   Wed, 10/01/2014 - 02:12

After none of the candidates received more than 50 percent of the vote in the first round of presidential elections, the Association of Amherst Students Elections Committee announced that a runoff election will be held on Thursday, Oct. 2.

According to the results released by the Elections Committee, Peter Crane ’15 received 269 votes (36 percent of votes cast), Tomi Williams ’16 received 260 votes (35 percent), Caroline Katba ’15 received 170 votes (23 percent), and write-in candidate Amani Ahmed ’15 received 36 votes (5 percent). Ahmed did not campaign for the presidency in the lead-up to Tuesday’s election.

The AAS constitution mandates that a candidate receive more than 50 percent of votes in order to be elected president.

Members of the class of 2018 are not eligible to vote in the presidential election, which was held to fill the vacancy left after Ahmed’s removal from office in May.

Ahmed ran for president in last spring’s presidential elections and defeated Crane by two votes, but was removed from office in a controversial Judiciary Council decision on the basis of campaign overspending. After Ahmed was removed from office, the Elections Committee decided to postpone the new elections until the fall semester.

Regarding the narrow margin of Tuesday’s presidential election, Williams said, “Simply put, we had three really strong candidates who worked hard to get their message out to the students.”

In interviews this week, both candidates discussed what they saw as their particular strengths.

Crane described his long track record in student government, and Williams, a junior, emphasized that he would be on campus next year to continue work begun this year.

“This week, for me, is going to be telling students how I have been an agent of change in the different roles I’ve been in,” Crane said. “I will be trying to tell people about my record: founding the First-Year Life and Orientation Committee, expanding AAS shuttle program to New York, improving the spring concert program.”

“I will be held accountable for all the decisions that I would make as president, especially if I decided to seek another term at the end of this year, and would be around next year — whether as President or not — to help see through some of the initiatives that I would begin this year,” Williams said.

Both Crane and Williams said they see a need for a revitalized AAS.

“I want the AAS to stop being a bureaucracy,” Crane said. “This is going to mean compartmentalizing our budgetary procedures and reforming our Constitution, an ongoing project. But this also means setting our sights on making proactive changes students actually want. Rethinking Orientation. Relaunching Mountain Day. Demanding the release of sexual misconduct data.”

Williams discussed potential solutions to the AAS’ image problem.

“Unfortunately, the notion that AAS is a waste of time and does not really help students get stuff done seems to dominate public opinion,” he said. “So in addition to cultural and more foundational changes that we need to begin embarking upon this year, the AAS needs to work on the little, tangible things such as 100 pages of free printing, increased student parking, and 20 free loads of laundry.”

Crane intends to continue working with the administration on transparency and on improving first-year orientation.

“The College needs to release annual reports of Honor Code violations, as they have up until 2011,” Crane said. “Orientation — which I’ve been working on for the past three years — needs to be changed as well; if students are falling asleep in lecture-style presentations then they aren’t being informed of their rights as students or abilities as bystanders.”

Williams said that his diverse experience on the Judiciary Council, Executive Committee and senate would play a role in his office, if elected.

“I have learned a lot of about processes and the importance of ensuring that these processes are made in a way to make life easier for people. Students should never be marginalized because the processes of the AAS are too bureaucratic and convoluted,” he said.

The Tuesday election was further complicated by an IT glitch that excluded students on academic leave, including students studying abroad, from the email announcing that polls were open.

The AAS elections committee explained in an email sent Thursday night that “the Constitution requires all students eligible to vote to be emailed.”

As a result, the election committee re-opened polls for another 24 hours on Friday, September 26th to allow students who did not receive the original email to vote. Release of election results was delayed until Saturday night.

Polls will be open for 24 hours on Thursday, October 2.