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After election miscount and petitions, DSG presidential results are unclear

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly announced junior Valeria Silombria as the winner of the Duke Student Government presidential election. This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

After junior Valeria Silombria was announced the winner earlier this afternoon, DSG Attorney General John Markis, a sophomore, informed The Chronicle that the votes were miscounted by University Center Activities and Events. 

Now, due to the miscount and petitions filed against junior Tommy Hessel, the other presidential candidate, election results for the presidential race are in flux. The executive vice presidential race was not affected. 

The election took place from Thursday, March 5 at noon to Friday, March 6 at noon. UCAE tallied the election results after the online election form closed and sent them to Markis, also a senior news reporter for The Chronicle, who then sent them to The Chronicle. Those results had Silombria with 643 votes to junior Tommy Hessel’s 526.

Due to a software error, the original results of the presidential race accounted for only 1,169 votes out of 1,872 total votes, when in fact 1,833 out of 1,872 votes were cast for president. Under the updated total, Hessel received 963 votes and Silombria received 870 votes. 

The instant-runoff voting system that was used to process votes seemed to have a lag, causing the miscount, according to Francesqa Santos, the assistant director for arts and media, students engagement, involvement in UCAE. She wrote in an email that UCAE first counted the votes at 12:30 p.m. and revisited at 2:15 p.m.

"Myself, Gerald Harris (Director of Student Engagement, Involvement), Maria Maxell (Associate Director of Systems and Process Analysis) have contacted our vendor for the system, CampusGroups, to get a further explanation of what took place," she wrote.

However, the results could still be affected by petitions filed by Silombria. She filed one petition to Markis before election results were released, alleging that Hessel’s campaign team violated listserv rules. Silombria alleged that a message encouraging students to vote for Hessel was sent in a Gamma Phi Beta sorority GroupMe. 

Her petition states that the message violated a rule prohibiting candidates and supporters who manage listservs from sending material that promotes a specific campaign. Silombria requested that 90 votes—the number of individuals who would have seen the message—be docked from Hessel’s vote count.

Markis and the Board of Elections has to decide whether to dock votes from Hessel or not, and that decision could get appealed to the DSG Judiciary. 

“The malfunction of the election results were not a consequence of anyone’s actions but rather the software. I apologize to Valeria’s team for the change in outcome and congratulate Tommy on a great campaign,” Markis wrote in a message.

Neither Silombria nor Hessel responded to a request for comment in time for publication. 

This article was updated at 4:23 p.m. with Santos' comments. 

Silombria received 870 votes after the recount, not 970. The Chronicle regrets the error.

Jake Satisky | Editor-in-Chief

Jake Satisky is a Trinity senior and the digital strategy director for Volume 116. He was the Editor-in-Chief for Volume 115 of The Chronicle. 


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