The senate candidate with the most votes for the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College will not be taking office next fall. In fact, their name shouldn’t have appeared on the ballot in the first place.
Yamilet Ibanez is the Teachers College senator-elect after Kamden Maag, her only competitor, won the 2020 Undergraduate Student Government Tempe election even though he had switched his major, tried to drop out of the race and did not partake in campaigning.
The Elections Commissioner announced in a Zoom call on April 16 Maag had won the senatorial election for the Teachers College. Maag said he learned of his election when a friend congratulated him in a text.
"This is a clusterf---" Maag, a freshman studying political science, said recounting his win. "How could this possibly have happened?"
During the entire election period, Ibanez, a sophomore studying political science and secondary education, said she had not seen any campaigning from Maag. When Ibanez learned Maag had tried to drop out of the race and was no longer part of the Teachers College, she said she "genuinely screamed."
Maag sent an email to the assistant elections commissioner for the Tempe Campus on March 4 stating his decision to drop out of the race. This came before campaigning officially started on March 30. During spring break, he changed his major to political science.
On April 17 at 12:13 p.m. Maag received an email from Carla Naranjo, Associated Students of ASU elections commissioner, stating they were "unable to change the ballot in sufficient time."
Maag then received an email from Naranjo on the same day at 12:20 p.m. stating the Elections Department did not have "any of the two mandatory expense reports required to campaign via the Elections Code" and that "these violations resulted in more than nine points of infractions, resulting in candidate disqualification."
This was not the only reported issue with the Teachers College's ballot.
Ibanez said the voting option for the Teachers College ballot was missing when she voted at midnight on April 14. She called a friend to check if the Teachers College appeared on his ballot, and said she was told the ballot appeared — but Maag was the only candidate listed.
"At first, it was shock," Ibanez said. "At the end of the day, we're running for student government. This is insane."
Ibanez said some people might have felt happy becoming the senator-elect in these circumstances, but all she feels is frustration.
"I ran a very intense campaign for two weeks that really put a lot of anxiety and pressure on me," Ibanez said. "I felt lied to, I felt betrayed and it was really hard for me to accept the win."
The Assistant Director of ASASU, Elizabeth Rosenkrantz, said in an email to The State Press that the Elections Department was not made aware of Maag's major change until after elections.
"I received an email today that Kamden Maag asked to be removed from the ballot as he was changing majors," Rosenkrantz said in her email. "Unfortunately, this was not shared or done prior to elections."
The Elections Department checked eligibility of each candidate in February after candidates filed applications. Maag met all of the requirements at the time of the eligibility check, as he had not changed his major until March.
Maag said he had only told his close friends he had even entered the election at all. Maag also did not campaign at all during the campaigning season.
"Endorsing candidates this year was a lot more complicated because nothing was in-person," said David Howman, president of College Libertarians and a graduate student studying justice studies. "We were only looking at information that was made available."
Howman said he reached out to someone in the Teachers College who gave a positive review of Maag.
Ibanez was a candidate in the United Voices for ASU coalition, a group the College Libertarians have publicly opposed.
"United Voices wasn't a driving force, but it was a factor," Howman said.
Prior to finding out she was senator-elect, Ibanez filed an appeal with the ASASU Supreme Court requesting more transparency from Rosenkrantz.
Since then, she has decided to drop the appeal, and said she will instead be asking Rosenkrantz directly for answers in order to seek closure.
"No matter what, I want her transparency," Ibanez said. "That's what the supreme court case was about. And that's still what I want."
Despite dealing with complications due to the election, Maag has attempted to make light of the situation.
"I enjoyed being senator-elect for the 18 hours that I was," Maag joked. "Power definitely went to my head."
Piper Hansen is a digital managing editor at The State Press. She is a reporting intern at the Arizona Capitol Times. Outside the newsroom, you can find her backpacking in Kentucky or working at summer camp.