On Thursday, Jan. 11, almost a month after student election polls closed, Principal Paul Belzer announced that the 2018-2019 ASB co-presidents would be juniors Lily Navab and Evan Mahaffey.
The election was deemed compromised by administrators when polls closed on Thursday, Dec. 14, the day after an unknown student leaked information to the advanced leadership class regarding who was in the lead. At the time of the leak, candidate Evan Mahaffey was leading, but by what margin was unknown. When votes were counted and Navab was shown to be the winner, the managers of the ASB elections suspected foul play.
Shortly after, an allegation was made to administration against Navab for violating campaign rule number 12, stating that “candidates and campaign supporters cannot personally give their electronic voting devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops) to voters.” Because of this, administrators suspended the voting results and launched an investigation into the conduct of the candidates. In the ensuing weeks, candidates were summoned, and asked a variety of questions pertaining to the election while not being informed of any administrative decisions.
In addition to the examination on Navab, the administration underwent a separate investigation regarding negative actions towards candidates as well as vandalization of candidates’ posters. Examples of allegations included the tearing down of posters, swastikas drawn on posters and candidates’ stickers on posters other than their own.
“A lot of hearsay, a lot of rumors were presented to me for and against individuals,” said Vice Principal Terrence Lien, who led the second investigation.
Lien said that the investigation of vandalism was not linked to various accusations against candidates.
“We have not found a connection between election results and the various defacing of posters and [of candidates’ actions in general],” Lien said.
After winter break, the candidates met a final time with the administration to discuss what to do about the results of the election, and how to prevent similar issues from happening in the future. The candidates agreed unanimously on the decision of co-presidents.
“One of the reasons I think it took so long is because we didn’t really see an easy solution, and so I got the feedback from the leadership class and they had some concerns with a variety of the comments and discussions that took place,” Belzer said. “Once we were all back in session with all four candidates on behalf of our student body we played out all the different scenarios that could be legitimate, and we were all in consensus about moving in this direction.”
Belzer explained that in determining the co-presidents, the administration “looked both at the votes at that moment in time (when results were leaked) and then the final vote.”
Belzer expressed that the decision in the end was not due to the validity of any accusation against Navab, but simply a way to appease all parties.
“This is the time to be thinking about bringing the school together versus continuing to make decisions to divide our school.” he said. “I think we have two candidates that are focused on what is best for our school and I am very confident that [they] can work well together and really represent the student voice and population that is both productive and positive.”