Laura Anne Bartusiak determined VPSO after runoff election, appeal

Rising junior Laura Anne Bartusiak will serve as the Undergraduate Student Government vice president for student organizations for the 2017-18 academic year.

Bartusiak initially ran against three other candidates for the position, none of whom won enough votes to win. USG scheduled a runoff election between Bartusiak and Julien Bourgeois to begin Tuesday and after that election, the Awards and Elections Committee determined that neither candidate had the required 50 percent of votes needed to win.

A total of 1326 students voted in the runoff election, with 10 students abstaining. Bartusiak received 662 votes, 49.92 percent of the vote, and Bourgeois received 654 votes, 49.32 percent of the vote.

With these results, the AEC decided to extend the runoff election to Wednesday. Bartusiak’s campaign, however, appealed the decision to extend the runoff citing Article 4, section 2, subsection D of the AEC bylaws which states, “All votes cast for ‘abstain’ will be considered null votes, and will not be included in the number of votes cast.”

The article of the bylaws meant that the 10 abstentions were not counted into the total number of votes cast. With 1316 total votes, Bartusiak received 50.3 percent of the vote and was determined the next USG vice president for student organizations.

USG members and those who endorsed Bartusiak were satisfied with the way that the appeal process was handled, despite the confusion and stress that it added for the candidates.

“It just threw a wrench into the campaigning and brought a lot of unnecessary questions and stress … over what we should do and how we should proceed,” Caroline Scott, USG School of Public Health senator, said. “But when they did receive the appeal we were glad that they acted relatively quickly and did decide to go ahead and announce the results as opposed to leaving the polls open.”

Scott also endorsed Bartusiak and was involved with the appeal process.

“What happened yesterday was human error. The [AEC] missed an aspect of our bylaw that would have declared [Bartusiak] as the winner of the runoff. To correct that error, the AEC, in conjunction with our advisors, made the decision to close the polls and declare [Bartusiak] the winner based off of original votes from the day before,” USG President and AEC Chair Autumn Gibbons said in a statement. “We apologized to both candidates for adding extra stress to an already contested time. As we move forward, the AEC is excited to welcome [Bartusiak] into her new role as VPSO.”