Late Friday evening, John Gonzalez ’14 receieved a call from Yale College Council Vice President Omar Njie ’13 informing him that he had won the YCC presidency. But just hours later, Gonzalez was told that the race was not yet over, and several days of campaigning remained before him.
The YCC Elections Committee, chaired by Njie, announced in a campus-wide email Saturday that Gonzalez and Eric Eliasson ’14 will compete in a runoff election due to a clause in the YCC constitution that has been overlooked in recent years. Since Gonzalez won less than 40 percent of the vote and beat Eliasson by less than 10 percentage points, the Elections Committee decided that the election should go to a runoff according to the YCC Constitution.
“Although this election rule of the YCC Constitution has been neglected in years past, we feel it is our responsibility to uphold the YCC Constitution,” the Elections Committee wrote in a press release.
Gonzalez won 39.79 percent of the vote, and Eliasson won 30.73 percent.
Eliasson said he contacted the Elections Committee Friday night “to get an opinion” after seeing the percentages and realizing that they did not fit the constitution’s requirement for declaring a winner of the contest.
“[That was] not good timing because of what the Elections Committee [had already] announced, but I wanted to be clear about the rules,” he said.
The clause in the YCC constitution under scrutiny contradicts the information packet distributed to candidates, which states that “any candidate who receives a plurality of the votes and at least five percent votes more than the nearest candidate will be declared the winner.” Since Gonzalez led by a margin of 9.06 percent, he won the election by the standards in the information packet.
“We apologize for the oversight in the election rules,” the Elections Committee wrote in the Saturday email. “We assure you that appropriate measures will be taken to eliminate this discrepancy moving forward.”
Gonzalez told the News on Saturday that he is “a little disappointed” with the decision to hold a runoff and that the Elections Committee should have upheld the initial result in part because the information packet states different rules. He added that he will use the runoff as an opportunity to reach out to people whom he was not able to contact during the campaign, but he added that he hopes the student body will not get “tired out” by the extended election.
Eliasson said he thinks the runoff will be determined in large part by former supporters of Cristo Liautaud ’14, who came in third place with 29.47 percent of the vote.
“There are a lot of students that had voted for Cristo, and I think the student body will divide themselves between me and John,” Eliasson said. “It comes down to showing them what the differences in our platforms are.”
Liautaud told the News Sunday night that he will not endorse Gonzalez or Eliasson. He met with both candidates after the initial election, he said, and they both displayed “open-mindedness” in agreeing to pursue objectives and priorities in his platform if elected.
Newly elected YCC Events Director Bryan Epps ’14 and Vice President Debby Abramov ’14 said they will not endorse either candidate.
“I think we’d all like an e-board that gets along from the beginning and hasn’t picked favorites from the beginning,” Abramov said.
Njie said the candidates will still be able to campaign, though they must abide by a new rule that prohibits use of email mailing lists to “cut down on the amount of email spam.”
Several times in the past few years, runoffs have not taken places in cases when they should have, according to the Election Committee’s ultimate ruling. During the 2010 elections, for example, there was no runoff held when Njie won the Sophomore Class Council presidential election with 33.44 percent of the vote — only 8.09 percentage points more than the next candidate. In 2007, there was no runoff after Joshua Tan ’09 won a three-way race for UOFC chair with 37.61 percent of the vote, while the second-place candidate captured 32.41 percent of the vote.
There will also be a runoff for the Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee chair between Aly Moore ’14 and Bobby Dresser ’14, who won 45.91 and 44.71 percent of the vote, respectively.
Both runoff elections will take place from 9 a.m. Monday to 11:59 p.m. Tuesday. In each election, the candidate who receives the most votes will be declared winner.
Correction: April 17
A previous version of this article conflated the terms “percent” and “percentage points.” It also misinterpreted the precise wording of the YCC Constitution.