Results from the Michigan Student Assembly elections are in. Balls Mahoney beat Tits McGee by a landslide.
Neither Mahoney nor McGee, having placed 130th and 150th, respectively, won one of the 10 seats at stake for the MSA-LSA council, but they did make an impressive showing over fellow write-in candidate Tony Blair.
Blair, Mahoney and McGee are three of several unforeseen candidates in what Ryan Bouchard, election director for MSA and LSA Student Government, said is the elections’ long-standing tradition of write-in nominations.
This year, MSA’s LSA ballot featured 24 candidates, but 174 candidates received votes.
“Every year someone votes for Mickey Mouse,” Bouchard said. Mouse received four votes across the different schools’ elections this year, while Minnie Mouse, in what could be foretelling of a Hillary Clinton-esque foray into politics, received one vote for LSA-SG.
The large number of write-in candidates is indicative of something more than voters’ tendency to mess around with their remaining votes after pulling the lever for the candidates they actually support. The election system allows voters to rank candidates so that a higher average ranking can propel a candidate past a competitor with as many or more votes as him or her. This means the relatively high placing of candidates like Stephen Colbert and Not Zack Yost suggests that some voters dragged their cursors all the way to the elections’ voting page simply in mockery or resentment.
Write-ins like “MSA is useless,” “MSA is worthless,” “I want my money back” and “Every Party In This Election Is Made Up Of Scumbags” show how students use the elections as a venue to express dissatisfaction for a government they think is a joke.
The election results reflected students’ views of recent scandals that have ensnared several prominent MSA officials, like former MSA President Zack Yost, who resigned last night after he was exposed a week ago as having created a group on Facebook.com that ridiculed MSA Rep. Tim Hull and made light of his Asperger’s syndrome. Yost received a vote, but the votes for Not Zack Yost and Impeach Yost negate the endorsement. A string of what seems like one person’s write-in votes, separated in placing because of ranking, reads “Zack Yost … is not such a bad guy … so ease up on him … seriously don’t make him resign … He deserves another chance.”
Other votes evoke Kenneth Baker, the MSA representative who resigned after making his and Yost’s membership to the group public in an MSA meeting for what many believe were scheming political motives. Baker received two votes in both the MSA-LSA representative and LSA-SG elections, but “ANYONE but Kenny Baker” also received a vote for MSA-LSA representative.
MSA Rep. Anton Vuljaj was another scandalized MSA official to garner support in the elections. Vuljaj, who is facing a felony charge for allegedly crashing a rival party’s website during the 2006 Student Government election, received four write-in nominations, two of which were “Tony Vuljaj (Again)” and “Tony Vuljaj (One more time).”
Scandals in MSA inspired other, less directly related write-in nominations. Engineering senior Benjamin Yee said hearing about the scandals drove him to vote in the MSA elections for the first time – he voted for Benjamin “The Man” Yee, Benjamin “The Apocalypse” Yee and Benjamin “The Alpha and Omega” Yee with three of his write-in votes.
“In light of recent events . I can’t help but poke fun at the whole process,” Yee said. “From what I’ve been told, The Apocalypse stands the best chance of winning. You can say I’m in favor of The Apocalypse.”
Yee said he originally planned to have himself put on the ballot but that he slept through the submission deadline. Besides, his platform summary that he said included “the nuclear bomb, Mary Sue Coleman’s pants and several other words and letters” was over the 100-letter limit allowed for each candidate’s say on the election site.
LSA junior Dan Murphy, the write-in candidate to receive the most votes at 19 entries in the MSA-LSA representative and LSA-SG elections, said he also was inspired to run by the recent indignations in MSA, but his candidacy was not a joke. If elected, he said he wanted to concentrate on internal reformation of the council system.
“After I saw all the MSA scandals going on in (The Michigan) Daily – I’m a big Daily fan – I thought I’d get my name on there,” Murphy said.
Murphy said it was too late to be listed on the ballot when the scandals began to come to light, but he rallied his friends to vote, and had confidence that his renown for creating Youtube.com videos like “Island Dance Party” would also give him an edge.
“I’m pretty well-known on campus,” he said.
Despite the recent bad press, Bouchard said it’s unlikely that the MSA’s elections this season invited more write-in candidates than previous elections. Chicken, in a number of its forms, has been as likely in past elections to receive about the same number of votes – four – as it garnered this year.
Bouchard said the write-in option is an important facet of the election process because sometimes serious candidates do win seats for some of the smaller schools after being written in. That is the case this year for the School of Music, Theatre and Dance election, in which a six-way tie involves all write-in candidates for the school’s one MSA seat.
In that scenario, MSA will review those among the six winners who are interested in accepting the position and appoint one as the school’s representative – that is, if any of the six is interested.
That each of the six only received one vote speaks to how School of Music, Theatre and Dance students probably wouldn’t miss their MSA representation, and to how if MSA really wanted to please students it would appoint Mickey Mouse. Mouse might finally be the man to make students feel like they’re well represented on MSA.