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Monday December 5th

Will Leimenstoll wins run-off election to become UNC's next student body president

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Will Leimenstoll was elected student body president Tuesday night, capturing 62.7 percent of the vote and decisively defeating his opponent Calvin Lewis Jr.

Tuesday’s run-off election culminated an extra week of campaigning for Leimenstoll and Lewis after neither candidate collected a majority of votes in last week’s general election.

Low turnout was one blemish on this year’s otherwise smooth election season. Only 4,600 students voted in Tuesday’s run-off election, representing the second-lowest turnout for any of the last eight run-off elections. About 4,500 students voted in the Feb. 14 general election, down from 7,105 last year.

Leimenstoll, who garnered 47 percent of the vote in last week’s general election, said he was overwhelmed and humbled by his victory.

“We felt really good going into it,” he said, though he acknowledged that it is difficult to predict how students will vote.

Lewis declined to comment following the announcement of the election results, which are unofficial until certified by the Board of Elections.

Not a single lawsuit was filed during student elections this year, a stark contrast from last year, when the Board of Elections was flooded with complaints and the release of general election results was postponed for several days.

This year’s election spanned 28 days, 10 days fewer than last year’s, despite the fact that both featured run-off elections.

“Surprisingly, we made it four weeks without any complaints,” said Shruthi Sundaram, chairwoman of the Board of Elections.

Lewis only narrowly qualified for the runoff, beating out former candidate Tim Longest for second place by just four votes.

That small margin, combined with complaints from some students that technological glitches kept them from voting, prompted the Board of Elections on Feb. 15 to consider redoing the general election. The board instead voted to certify the results.

Leimenstoll said he plans to spend the next several days writing thank-you notes to his supporters and introducing himself to members of the Board of Trustees and other student body presidents in the UNC system.

He will be inaugurated April 3.

Sundaram said higher voter turnout in the runoff could have been influenced by recent publicity about voter apathy.

She added that the addition of the referendum to determine UNC’s future membership in the Association of Student Governments to the ballot might have contributed to higher turnout, though more students voted for student body president than for the referendum.

Student Body President Mary Cooper said she thinks Leimenstoll’s biggest challenge will be preserving need-based financial aid, but that he is cut out for the position.

“I think Will will do a great job,” Cooper said. “I think the biggest piece of advice I’d give Will is: ‘Buckle your seatbelt. It’s a lot of work.’”

Staff Writer Katharine McAnarney contributed reporting.

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