Candidates in last year’s Undergraduate Student Government election were surprised when the automatically generated results of the election were invalidated and replaced with a contradictory set of results. The independent online platform originally showed that A Hunter Alliance won the most seats, but then the Office of Student Activities, which oversees USG elections, announced a recount in which A Hunter United won.
Through the online system, undergraduate students were sent virtual ballots via email and voted during the April 15-18 voting period. Hours after voting ended, students involved in the election were notified of the results — the longshot slate, AHA, upset the incumbent AHU, winning 21 out of 35 seats, according to documents obtained by The Envoy.
A few days later, however, the OSA notified candidates by email that there had been a mistake, later claiming that a server error had caused many students’ votes not to be counted. When all votes were counted, they claimed, AHU won 22 of the 35 seats. See the full election results here, which were emailed out to students on June 20.
In the email, Director of Student Life Miesha Smith wrote that the Student Elections Review Committee “identified a number of discrepancies in the preliminary results and requested our third party vendor to conduct an automated and manual recount for a final tally of votes.”
All nine of the candidates who were elected in the first set of results but not the second were from AHA, and they had all run for positions in which the voters could vote for more than one candidate, such as Junior Senator. In the first set of results, all four elected Junior Senators were from AHA, but in the second, only one winner was from AHA and the rest were from AHU.
Among the AHA candidates who won and then lost was Alondra Diaz, who ran for the Auxiliary Enterprise Corporation and ended up losing to Rodela Ahmed of AHU. Diaz didn’t find the OSA’s explanation of the election mishap convincing.
“‘Oh, there was an error,’” Diaz said in an interview with the Envoy, speaking about the OSA. “Oh, well then how did you get the votes and how did you count them up?”
Students were given the option to appeal the results of the election, but Diaz did not. “I feel like it wouldn’t have made a difference anyway,” she said.
Teneia Wooten, Assistant Director of Student Activities and Leadership Development, did not respond to requests for comment from The Envoy.
For a few years before 2019, AHU was the only slate on the ballot. In 2018, every single person elected to USG was part of AHU, except for one person who was Independent.
In spring, AHA emerged as an alternative slate, running on what students perceived as a failure of AHU to solve problems regarding accessibility for people with disabilities, students’ mental health and lack of funding for clubs, among others. They pledged to be more transparent and accountable than AHU had been.
The election proved to be heated, as the Hunter College Students Facebook group blew up with election-related posts from students and candidates critical of AHU. AHU candidates responded with posts calling upon their experience and familiarity with USG, as well as their developed relationships with Hunter administrators.
“I’m really happy for those who did win at the end,” said Diaz. “I think that either way, whoever won is trying their hardest and I just hope that they listen to the student body and get things done.”