In a hotly contested race, Abhishek Mahanti and Michael Rorro of the Michigan Vision Party secured the presidential and vice presidential seats for the Michigan Student Assembly, according to unofficial results released last night.
Mahanti, an Engineering junior, and Rorro, an LSA junior, collected 2,196 votes — roughly 49 percent of the total vote — just 223 more than opponents Gibran Baydoun and Greg Caplan of the reMichigan Campaign, who received 44 percent of the votes.
Kate Stenvig and Alanna Owagbemi, presidential and vice presidential candidates for the Defend Affirmative Action Party, won 268 votes — 6 percent of the total votes.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Mahanti said of hearing the news that he had won. “The first thought that came to my head was ‘this is incredible that this whole thing worked.’”
Mahanti said he was going to spend the rest of the night relaxing with his fellow party members. But in the morning, Mahanti said he knows there is work to be done.
He said he plans to speak with current MSA President Sabrina Shingwani and the rest of the executive board to talk about how to move the assembly forward.
This year’s election saw a significant jump in voter turnout, something the MSA Election Board was actively working to improve. Last winter, 2,246 votes were cast in the election — about 6.4 percent of the student body. This year’s election had more than twice that, with 4,497 students casting votes for the executive slate.
Election Director Emily Winter said the more than 100-percent increase in voter turnout was largely due to the fact that this year’s election did not feature a single, dominating party.
“Obviously in this election there are two parties who both had great visions for the organization and for the school, and great teams of people in their campaigns,” Winter said. “I think people responded to that.”
For the past five semesters leading up to this year’s election, MSA was run primarily by the Michigan Action Party — a party that dissolved six weeks ago after Baydoun and Mahanti, who were supposed to be the party’s presidential and vice presidential candidates, created their own groups.
Hours after hearing the results, Mahanti said he still couldn’t believe what had happened.
“I guess we had fought so hard for a campaign that was very pragmatic and personality based that I didn’t know that people could mobilize,” he said. “I wasn’t sure that this experiment would work.”