**Also written by Justin Rheingold**
After a more than 12-hour delay, junior Robert Joseph was elected the next Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate President, defeating opponent Andrew Nunez, a junior. Joseph received 1151 votes, or 65 percent of the vote to Nunez’s 35 percent and 627 votes.
“I am literally overjoyed and just stunned by the love and support and caring of everybody at this school,” Joseph said. “I really have to thank everybody on my campaign team, especially Ben Kaplan my campaign manager, and I am overwhelmed just so much by all the love and support from my friends and everyone on the campaign who helped out. I really owe it to all of them — they kept me sane over the last few months, and they kept me going and they are a big part of why I ran, and I am so excited to continue working with everyone at the school, to start making positive changes and to start working with students to make strides toward a better school.”
Thirty-two point five percent of undergraduates or 1,883 students voted in the election — a significant decrease from last year when there was a 57.5 percent voter turnout rate. While turnout was the highest among freshman, with 45 percent voting, 36 percent of sophomores, 35 percent of juniors and 24 percent of seniors also cast a ballot. In addition to the votes allocated to Joseph and Nunez, 105 people voted to abstain.
“While we always hope for a higher turnout, the distribution of votes across classes is in line with past elections and the overall turnout percentage was also in line with past elections and predicted by ECOM based on this particular election,” members of The Election Committee (ECOM) said in a statement released to the Daily.
Despite glitches in the voting system, VoteNet, and a delay in the release of final results, Dan Johnson, the chair of ECOM said he does not forsee any future issues. Johnson explained that while there were initial concerns that students could have voted twice — once through the online system and once by email — ECOM was able to verify that only one vote from each student was counted by reviewing students temporary usernames and passwords. ECOM stated that they were satisfied with the results.
“We feel confident in validating the election after conferring with the TCU Judidiary, the TCU Senate, the Office [for] Campus Life, Tech Serivices and VoteNet,” according to the statement. “Having a normal distribution of votes through classes and an acceptable total turnout shows that the issues that some students were experiencing were not drastically affecting the outcome of the election.”
Joseph said that while the wait was frustrating, he is relieved the process is over.
“It was the most anxious, nerve-racking 15 hours, possibly of my life,” Joseph said. “Over the past week I’ve been telling myself, ‘At least it will be over on midnight after the elections on Tuesday.’ Of course that proved not to be true, which was very frustrating. Right now I think I am so incredibly relieved to be done with the campaign.”
During the campaign, Joseph had emphasized his engagement with relevant student groups when resolutions impacting them come before the Senate. He has worked with the Tufts Transit Coalition in fighting for the Univeristy Pass, which would enables students to ride the T for free, and has met with the Department of Education to work toward the creation of an education major.
“Tufts is a relatively small campus, so Robert and I made the decision early on to have as many face-to-face conversations with students as possible,” Kaplan told the Daily in an email. “Robert spoke with hundreds of students across campus about his platform, his values and his ideas to improve Tufts next year. I credit our victory to the extraordinary work of our campaign team and Robert himself, who made sure to have as many meaningful conversations with voters as possible.”
Both campaigns were fairly active on campus with “Nunez Now” and “Run with Rojo” signs dotting the library steps and campus walkways. While the influence of external factors including Generic Candidate and the abstain campaign cannot be measured, Joseph was happy that neither campaign resorted to mudslinging.
“What I would like to think is … we ran an incredibly positive campaign,” he said. “We refused to bend to making any attacks or campaigning in any negative way. We really kept it on the positive side.”
Johnson agreed that while there were problems with the voting system and external influences, both candidates ran fair campaigns.
“Other than the problems with the voting issues and some problems with Generic Candidate and the abstain campaign, the two campaign staffs themselves did a great job, they both performed very well at debates,” he said. “It was a very smooth campaign from both campaign staffs. There were no issues with campaign violations.”
Nunez and his campaign manager Hannah Deegan, a junior, could not be reached for comment prior to this article’s publication.
Joseph said that he hopes to continue to work with Nunez next year.
“I hope that he will stay on Senate,” Joseph said. “He’s an incredibly passionate guy who has some really awesome things he would like to do and I hope he does stay on Senate.”
Although Joseph is officially the TCU Senate President, he will receive the gavel from outgoing president Joe Thibodeau, a senior, at a meeting this Sunday. At that meeting, the senate will hold inhouse elections for the committee chairmanships as well as executive board positions including vice president, treasurer, parliamentarian, historian and diversity and community affairs officer. Joseph said he is eager to get started with his new job.
“I will be starting this summer … and I’ll have plenty of time to start meeting with administrators,” Joseph said. “I would like to work with student groups before then to try to use their input when I’m meeting with administrators this summer.”