It took a runoff, a court hearing and a mistrial to get to the end of the student body presidential election. The final call came Wednesday when Omar Khan and running mate Ryan Morris were officially declared winners by two votes.
Based on the April 11 runoff election, Khan/Morris won the race with 1,261 of 2,539 votes. Their opponents, Mike Berman and Ronda Bostick, received 1,259 votes, while 19 voters did not complete casting their electronic ballots, according to the Election Rules Committee results.
The candidates knew they were in for an extended race after the April 2 election forced them into a runoff.
In an unexpected development last week, Khan and Berman were disqualified with immediate 10-point violations.
The Khan/Morris ticket was disqualified for allegedly campaigning during a scheduled class. Berman/Bostick were disqualified because a campaign worker allegedly e-mailed an abusive letter to the Khan ticket.
After the election was referred to the Student Government Supreme Court to determine whether either of the disqualifications was valid, a mistrial was declared because the case was in jeopardy of a biased decision.
Khan and Berman both agree that, after the confusion in this race, the election rules need some adjustments.
“That is one thing we’re definitely going to go over … I think both sides agree,” Khan said.
Khan added that the procedures, which extended the election, became a time-consuming and frustrating event.
“It was a lot of stress, but at the end of the day, we had to stay committed to the reason we ran,” Khan said. “It was an extremely close race, and this is the biggest honor and privilege I’ve ever received.”
Khan added that he and Morris took their first steps to starting their term by attending a cabinet meeting with student body president Mike Griffin.
“We are going to prepare ourselves in every way possible,” Khan said.
Berman, who is SG Senate president, said he is confident Khan and Morris will serve the students well.
“If they work with the same work ethic they had during the race, they’ll do just fine,” Berman said. “I hold no ill will for Omar and Ryan.”
Berman said with such a close election, he wonders about the 19 voters who didn’t finish casting their ballots.
“It’s probably something I’ll wonder about for the rest of my life,” Berman said.
Berman said he can’t be sure if they would have helped him win the election. However, he said he would like the instructions for the online voting screens to make clear that voters must confirm their votes, which occurs on a separate screen from the one where voters select a candidate.
Berman said he will take a break from SG to work on his master’s degree in business administration but still wants to be involved with any changes of the election rules.
“(The rules) are deeply flawed,” Berman said. “Of course, I’m still going to be an active student on the campus and pay attention to what student government does because I think more people should.”