The Associated Students executive branch will be split evenly between political parties Campus United and Isla Vista Party for the 2020-21 school year, a shift from Campus United’s stronghold on this year’s executive positions.
For the first time, both the Associated Students (A.S.) election campaigning and results night took place remotely as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the shift to remote instruction. The results night event was held this year over Zoom, a drastic shift from the traditionally high-energy, high-emotion atmosphere in the Hub in the University Center. Around 350 people tuned in tonight for the elections Zoom call, according to Davis Quan, A.S. Elections Board chair.
Campus United maintained its majority hold in the A.S. Senate for the fifth year in a row, claiming more than half of the seats, 14 out of this year’s 25.
The full list of senator-elects can be viewed here.
President-elect Daevionne Beasley, who ran with Campus United, claimed his second executive position after first serving as the university’s External Vice President for Statewide Affairs during the 2019-20 school year. Beasley’s opponents in the presidential race, Daniel Segura-Esquivel, who ran with the Isla Vista Party, and Austin Foreman, who ran as an independent, trailed behind with 39.0% and 10.1% of the vote, respectively.
Beasley said in an interview after the results night that he is excited about his win, but regretted that the circumstances of the digital spring quarter have forced the emotional and intimate tradition of election night to be held through screens and moderated remotely — cheering, hugs and tears have been replaced by digital reactions and instant messaging.
“It’s like a really crazy feeling because [there is] a global pandemic, and I just won the presidential election, so I’m just feeling very bittersweet,” Beasley said.
“I’m very glad I got the win, but my fellow students aren’t able to feel the range of emotion they’d normally feel because now they’re off campus,” he added.
In an interview, Segura-Esquivel assured that despite the loss, “I’m still gonna be around, I’m still gonna be doing as much work on this campus as possible, still advocating for my communities.”
Foreman declined to comment.
In another Campus United victory, Internal Vice President-elect Tianna White will preside over the A.S. Senate next year, winning over Isla Vista Party competitor Racquel Almario.
White said she is proud of those who ran for seats this year and is looking forward to improving the workings of the Senate table in the school year to come.
“As someone who ran for Senate last year, it takes a lot, I know. I’m really excited for this year’s A.S. to institute real change for the students on this campus,” White said. “It’s our immense privilege to be as informed and engaged with the student body.”
Almario did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Both External Vice President positions went to Isla Vista Party candidates, with Yasamin Salari taking the seat for External Vice President for Local Affairs (EVPLA) and Alia Reynolds winning External Vice President for Statewide Affairs (EVPSA).
Though the A.S. executive branch is split between the two parties, EVPLA-elect Salari — who won against Campus United’s Lea Toubian — said she is up for the challenge of working with people across party lines.
“Parties [are] something you run with, but I’m super excited to just set those aside once we get into office and just figure out how we can all help out each other and keep going,” Salari said.
Salari said she doesn’t plan to waste time in preparing for next year’s work.
“I’m really excited to get the applications out for my office and hire people who are passionate about the job, who are involved, and just get the ball rolling. I don’t want to wait until summer. I’m really excited to just start building the office.”
The race for EVPSA was the closest executive race of the night, with Reynolds winning by a 3.1% margin, or 159 votes. She said the online format of the elections results added anxiety to an already emotional night for candidates.
“It was super stressful and the whole aspect of it being all digital made it harder for everyone’s mental health because digitizing everything can cause changes in self-perception,” Reynolds said.
Both Reynolds and her opponent Beau Karnsrithong said the results had them on the edge of their seats.
“It’s like watching a literal race to the finish line as your bar slides down the screen,” said Karnsrithong, who held the lead in the first half of the results release.
“Definitely nerve wracking, but exciting and gets your heart pumping.”
The position of Student Advocate General –– an independent executive position that requires students to disaffiliate from campus parties –– went to Melissa Perez, who beat her opponent Tyler Ferguson with 53.5% of the vote.
“I’m so honored and blessed to be serving as your next student advocate general!” Perez said in a text. “I’m honored to be helping to make AS more accessible to students of all backgrounds and I’m ready to make it a reality!”
Ferguson declined to comment on election results. While he lost the executive position, Ferguson still took a win tonight with the passage of the constitutional amendment to create two new international student senator seats, which were placed on the ballot by a bill he wrote while serving as a senator. The addition of those two seats, bringing the Senate table up to 27 seats in total, will go into effect in the 2020-21 election cycle.
All reaffirmations on this year’s ballot passed. The sole new fee on the ballot, a fee for the Department of Public Worms, passed with 77.56% of the vote.
This is the second year in a row that voter turnout has dropped — 28.84% of undergraduate students voted this year, down 3.51% from last year. According to the A.S. Elections Board, 6,243 undergraduate students voted in this year’s election, as opposed to the 6,980 who voted in the 2018-19 election.
The board had concerns about meeting the 20% voter threshold for this year’s election, given the circumstances of the online spring quarter.
The results night suffered technical difficulties and started almost 30 minutes after the official start time as the A.S. Elections Board struggled to share the voting results through the Zoom call.
“We really couldn’t figure out what was going on,” Quan said. “We did do run-throughs a bit prior and it looked fine, but in the actual results it did look a bit worse.”
Some of the results on the screen lagged due to the technical issues, which Quan said took away from the momentum and overall experience of the night.
“You do kind of feel bad for the candidates that they sort of lost all the events that went along with the actual election in terms of campaigning and results night, as well as anything else that entails in the election season.”
“But overall, I really think that this election and the adaptation to online went very well considering the fears that we had going in.”
Sanya Kamidi, Arturo Martinez Rivera, Harper Lambert and Evelyn Spence contributed reporting.