Roughly one in four students cast a ballot in Wednesday's SGA senatorial elections for the coming academic year, marking an official end to the spring campaign season.
SGA election officer Jamel Pee said an estimated 575 students turned out to vote in Wednesday's campus-wide election. That's mostly on par with last year's turnout, Pee said.
A crowd of about two dozen onlookers gathered to watch as SGA election officials unveiled a banner displaying the results of the election around 6:20 p.m. Voting closed at 5 p.m.
Five of the nine candidates vying for Senator-at-Large won their bids to be elected. Sophomore Melissa Thompson led the way with 362 votes to carry the title of Leading Senator-at-Large.
Junior Sarah Brown followed not far behind with 324 votes, while Jonathan Cauthen, Gil Arquisola and Sage Harris each garnered the third, fourth and fifth place spots respectively by a 272-271-249 margin.
Eleven freshmen competed for the five open seats for sophomore senator. Dalton Turner narrowly edged out Nicholas Reynolds by a 155-154 margin to become the next sophomore class president. Mollie Davis, Austin Thompson and Ronnie Davis also won seats as sophomore senators, netting 139, 115 and 100 votes respectively.
All but one of the six candidates running for junior senator positions was elected to serve. Rodrigo Visbal won the job of junior class president over second-place finisher Khoi Le by a margin of 115-110. The three other junior senators elected were Justin Robinson with 104 votes, Branden Ryan with 92 votes and A.J. Patel with 82 votes.
In the race for senior senator as well, six candidates competed for a total of only five positions. Christina Vasquez narrowly beat out Kristen Blackwell to become the next senior class president in a 117-115 vote. Stephen Bradshaw, Matt Hickman and Matt Williams also won seats as senior senators by a 111-103-96 margin, respectively.
Outgoing SGA president Trenton White said that while he's excited for the new slate of senators, he wishes more females had been elected. Only five of the 20 newly elected senators are females.
"It's been a great turnout, but I'd like to see more women represented," White said.
Despite the gender imbalance, however, newly re-elected senator Branden Ryan said he thinks the SGA slate represents a diversity of students from different backgrounds.
"I think we've got a very strong group with a broad range of interests this year, and I'm excited to serve," Ryan said.
For more on this developing story, read the next issue of The Cluster, or check back in at www.mercercluster.com for updates.