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March 3, 2017
A Friday morning email sent out to several hundred students revealed alarming news: throughout the course of the Feb. 27 to March 3 election week, votes cast for DASB presidential candidates Rhozhen Panahi and Cialysiah, “Cici,” Washington were never counted because of “technical issues.”
The email read: “Thank you for voting in the DASB student election. Unfortunately, a technical issue prevented your vote on the presidential ticket from being recorded. We are sorry for this error.” Included in the email was a link for re-voting which is set to close Wednesday, March 8. Students who have not yet voted will not be given extensions.
DASB elections committee chair Faris Waiteasa, 21, mechanical engineering major, said the voting system put in place was not set up to take votes for presidential candidates running without vice presidents, so all the votes to Panahi and Washington were not counted. “They are at a zero right now,” he said.
Dennis Shannakian, College Life office coordinator, said this election was the first time a presidential candidate has run without a running mate since the implementation of De Anza’s current system of electronic voting.
While presidential candidates Carlos Duran and Dylan Kim will be allowed to keep all accumulated votes, as of Friday, all votes for Panahi and Washington will be void unless voters choose to recast their ballots for them by March 8.
Students who voted for Panahi or Washington also have the option to switch their vote to another presidential candidate during this period.
Both Panahi and Washington said the flawed presidential election should be scrapped and a new election should be scheduled, with an extension on campaigning.
“My team and myself are very frustrated as of now,” Washington, 19, political science major said. “In order to move forward effectively, I would like to propose a new election for the upcoming spring quarter where the voting takes place on a completely new system.”
Panahi said students who originally cast ballots for her and Washington are not likely to spend the extra time to vote again, especially if the college’s response consists of only a single email.
Duran declined to comment, and Kim could not be contacted in time of publishing.
Throughout election week, some students expressed concern that their presidential votes were not being tallied. Some assumed it was simply a graphical or display error, rather than ballots being dismissed.
Shirley Gardner, 21, women and gender studies major, said all of her candidate selections were displayed in her voting history on MyPortal, except for her choice for the DASB presidency, demonstrating that the issue had been visually apparent. Currently, it is unclear when administration or the office of College Life first noticed that Panahi and Washington had received zero votes.
Shannakian would not comment on the fairness of the decision to allow Kim and Duran to keep their votes.
“That’s a decision for the elections committee or whomever,” said Shannakian, adding that there were no plans to hold a do-over presidential election as of Friday.
After speaking with John Cognetta, the director of College Life, Eddie Cisneros, 23, public health major, said that an emergency elections meeting might be held over the March 4 and 5 weekend, and that another election might be planned Week 10 or onward to address students’ concerns with the current decision and results.
According to DASB results, Kim is winning the election with 277 votes.
Editor’s note: Neil McClintick is a member of De Anza’s Political Revolution, which sought to promote voter turnout without endorsing any candidates.
Last updated on March 3.
Photo by Terry Pon.