Calvin Lewis Jr. and Will Leimenstoll advance to runoff for UNC student body president
In a surprising turn of events Tuesday night, Will Leimenstoll and Calvin Lewis Jr. moved on to a run-off election for student body president.
Tim Longest, a frontrunner who received several prominent campus endorsements, was eliminated, receiving just four fewer votes than Lewis, the second-place finisher.Leimenstoll collected 47 percent of the vote and Lewis collected 23.1 percent. They will have another week to campaign before the Feb. 21 election.
The results are preliminary, and still must be certified by the Board of Elections.
Only 4,507 students voted in Tuesday’s student body president election, down from 7,105 last year.
Longest said he was shocked by the result, and believed poor voter turnout may have contributed to his last-place finish.
“I’m definitely surprised, but I understand it’s a very low turnout election season,” he said after the results were announced.
The three candidates voiced concern earlier this week that new voting website, studentlife.unc.edu, would decrease voter turnout because it requires users to register.
Leimenstoll said he was satisfied with his campaign’s success.
“We’re going to give people a chance to recharge their batteries.”
Lewis said he was relieved that his campaign survived another week.
“My gut reaction was, ‘Whew, another week,’” he said. “In a runoff there are fewer hands in the cookie jar, so there are more votes to be grabbed.”
Run-off elections have become a staple of student body president elections. Only twice in the past 16 years has one candidate managed to win outright in a field of three or more candidates.
Leimenstoll collected the most petition signatures of any of the candidates, while Lewis met the 1,250-signature deadline only with a 24-hour extension.
Lewis said a mass email he sent out over the UNC directory Tuesday morning might have contributed to his success.
Shruthi Sundaram, chairwoman of the Board of Elections, announced the results to a surprised crowd in Carroll Hall.
She said each member of the board independently tallied the results, and came up with the same outcome.
“I’m 99.9 percent confident the numbers won’t change,” Sundaram said.
Election day was marked by problems with the voting website studentlife.unc.edu.
Some rising seniors were unable to vote for senior class presidents because they had too many credit hours to be automatically registered as juniors with the registrar’s office, Sundaram said.
She added that graduate students were also affected, with many prompted to vote in District 7 of Student Congress in addition to their correct district.
Those unable to enter either ballot on studentlife.unc.edu were able to email in their ballots.
Leimenstoll said he knew Lewis personally before they were candidates together.
“We’ve had good communication so far, I hope it will remain that way during the runoff,” he said.
Staff Writers Claire McNeill and Edward Pickup contributed reporting.
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