Written by Izzy Villa, Sarah Lehman, and Lauren Fuller. Cover photo: Ava Honerkamp
There’s something weird about last year’s senior class presidential election.
First, the timing. An announcement on M-A Today on Monday, May 21 stated, “voting will open on Tuesday and close on Thursday.” The exact time that polls would be closed was not explicitly mentioned, but many believed that votes cast throughout Thursday would be included in the final tally.
Candidate and runner up Quinn Hammel said, “I think people thought that they would close them later on Thursday, especially considering that the rally was on Friday.” It was at Friday’s lunchtime rally that the winners, John Mills and Luke Scandlyn, were announced.
Hammel contacted leadership teacher Michael Amoroso after the results were announced, addressing the timeline confusion, and said, “[Amoroso] apologized for giving the wrong time and date to M-A Today and said that doing a recount would be too difficult.”
Mills had been in the leadership class before while Hammel and Max Wong started their campaign as outsiders.
Even more problematic: Roughly half of the votes appear illegitimate. Students not in the class of 2019 voted. Students from other schools in the district voted. Non-verifiable, non-seq accounts like “[email protected]” and “[email protected]” voted. Some students appear to have voted several times. According to sources, leadership counted all votes, regardless of their email.
So who really won? We don’t know, and we’re not sure anyone does. The winner depends on two things: when the polls were closed, and whether or not all votes were counted, even invalid ones.
Voting data is public record according to the Student Press Law Center. 408 votes were tallied from Monday morning through Thursday afternoon, but after trying to find a match for every ID number, only 294 of these were cast by M-A sophomores, juniors, or seniors. 74 were from invalid district email addresses, and 40 were from servers outside the district.
What do these numbers translate to? Only 57 percent of the total votes were valid, cast by current seniors who voted in their own class election.
There was nothing stopping voters who did not enter a Sequoia Union High School District email address, whose district accounts were deactivated, or who were not in attendance at M-A. Furthermore, there was no way to filter votes by grade level, meaning M-A students who wished to vote for a senior class president running pair could, even though the election was for incoming seniors only. And anyone could vote more than once, even with the same email address.
Much of this confusion could have been avoided by placing stricter settings on the Google election form, or excluding any non-seq votes from the final tally. When only district votes are counted, Hammel and Wong win by a few votes on Thursday afternoon when the votes end in our data. When only current seniors are counted, Wong and Hammel again end up on top, 121 votes to Scandlyn and Mills’ 92 on Thursday.
But, if votes are cut off on Wednesday night at midnight, Mills and Scandlyn are in fact ahead, 163 votes to 151. Of course, that would only be the case if Leadership counted every vote— if only valid ones are included, Wong and Hammel once again win by nearly 20 votes.
When was Leadership supposed to stop counting? M-A Today announced Thursday as the deadline, Mills said he didn’t remember, and Scandlyn and Amoroso have not responded to a request to comment. However, the only time Scandlyn and Mills are ahead in total votes is if they are stopped on Wednesday.
Sources also said that multiple Leadership students had access to the voting spreadsheet.
So the data is confusing, but according to Leadership our data is, indeed, official. In every case, Hammel and Wong have more votes from seniors.
When asked how he would feel should the data show him and Hammel winning, Wong stated, “I would be very offended and disappointed if that were the case.” He went on to say, “I believe the elections would be improved if the polls were closed on the date they were announced to be closed on.”
Hammel and Wong have maintained their campaign website, wammel.org, that now states, “We lost, not like it’s rigged or anything.”
If you have any information regarding the election, email [email protected]
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Scandlyn has been in leadership prior to this year. In fact, this is his first year in the class.