By Katie Tang
Published February 27th 2004 in U.C. Davis California Aggie

Junior independent candidate Donald Cohen-Cutler demanded a recount before the ASUCD Senate election results were even announced on Thursday, but stopped protesting after hearing them.

Not since the fall 2001 elections has an independent candidate won a seat on senate. But with 449 first-place votes, Cohen-Cutler lived up to his campaign motto, "Break the Slate," and finished with the second-highest number of votes behind Leadership, Empowerment, Activism, Determination candidate Adam Barr.

"I wasn't sure how I'd do," Cohen-Cutler said. "I think people were happy to see solid independent [candidates] and that was a change."

Cohen-Cutler also said Choice Voting helped him win.

"[The results] show that strong independent candidates with strong issues will be heard," he said.

Choice Voting, a system in which students rank senate candidates according to their preferences, involves 14 rounds of vote distribution among the candidates until six of the contenders reach the 582-vote threshold.

With 260 first-place votes, independent candidate Robert Baron was eliminated only after the 12th round when all six positions were filled. Baron placed higher than six candidates running on slates.

Baron said he was "very happy" with his results, and plans to run for senate again in the future.

Like Cohen-Cutler, newly elected freshman Jessica Engel did not expect to win a seat in her first ASUCD campaign effort, but ended up with the most first-place votes out of all the Student Focus candidates.

"I honestly did not think that I was going to win," Engel said. Two other senate seats will be filled by Student Focus candidates Gabe Bang and Sapana Shende.

Though junior Student Focus candidate Bob Gill had arguably the most ASUCD experience among the senate contenders, he did not make the six-seat cut. The two-time commission chair said "sometimes these things just happen."

"I'm still a part of ASUCD, and I look forward to continuing with that," he continued.

L.E.A.D. candidate Danielle Munoz, who also did not have enough votes to win a seat, said she too will remain an active member on campus.

"It's unfortunate how [students] voted this year, but L.E.A.D. is so strong that we're always going to have a voice in senate no matter how many L.E.A.D. senators there are," she said.

Only two L.E.A.D. candidates - Barr and Darnell Holloway - were elected, leaving the senate with six Student Focus senators, five from L.E.A.D. and one independent.

ASUCD Elections Committee Chair Mary Ball said she was pleased with this year's voter turnout despite the downpour on the final day that candidates could push for votes. A total of 4,068 votes were counted this year, which is a slight increase from the 2003 winter election's total of 4,029.

Sonny Mohammadzadeh, who ran as an independent candidate in the winter 2003 elections, also noted the significance of Choice Voting.

"If you look at the data, the votes in the top six keep changing, and it shows how important it is to get all these extra rankings to really understand how the people vote," he said.

The six senators-elect will officially be sworn on Thursday.