Executive alliance runoff election third in SG history

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Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

The third executive alliance runoff election in Student Government history will take place this week between candidates Braydon Jones and Kimia Dargahi, and fellow candidates Xavier Rotnofsky and Rohit Mandalapu.

Since SG began electing executive alliances in 2009, only two other campus-wide elections have ever resulted in an executive alliance runoff. The two alliance runoffs took place in 2010 and 2011, and no other alliance runoffs have occurred until this year.

Runoff elections happen when no candidate or alliance achieves a majority of the vote. This year, Jones-Dargahi polled at 46.34 percent, and Rotnofsky-Mandalapu received 26.9 percent of the vote.  

“At the beginning, we were a bit surprised but also not too much,” Election Supervisory Board chair Nick Molina said. “Around the office, we’d heard a lot of buzz around Rotnofsky’s team and also Braydon and Kimia’s.” 

Before 2009, presidential and vice presidential candidates ran separately. The candidates ran as part of a “party,” and the party that had the most elected SG officials gained “control” of the Assembly. 

This year’s election yielded SG’s highest voter turnout since 2009, as almost 19 percent of students cast a vote. The number of students who voted increased by 14 percent from spring 2014 to spring 2015. 

“I’m obviously pleasantly surprised,” SG President Kori Rady said. “I guess the four teams definitely helped this year as opposed to the two last year. Different types of candidates decided to run, and I think that helped.”

SG was known as the Student’s Association until 1996. Between the organization’s name change in 1996 and the change in voting structure in 2009, five presidential  candidates competed in runoff races. In SG’s 20 years, fewer than half of the top ticket – president and executive alliance – races have gone into runoff elections.

Senior administrative associate Becky Carreon said the runoffs typically occur when many people compete in the race. Carreon has worked in the legislative student organization office for 28 years and has seen all of the elections in that time.

“When you have a lot more candidates, it’s much harder,” Carreon said. “When you have two or three candidates, it’s easier. … And when you have the president and vice president going together to get the majority, you get more votes.”

Natalie Butler and Ashley Baker were the last executive alliance candidates to win a runoff. In 2011, they led in votes in the general election and won in the runoff election. But, during the 2010 election, executive alliance candidates Scott Parks and Muneezeh Kabir trailed in the general election and ended up winning the runoff election.

In both 2010 and 2011, fewer people voted in the executive alliance runoffs than they did in the general election.

Voting for the two executive alliances will take place at utexasvote.com Wednesday and Thursday. Results will be announced in the Main Mall at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.