Jasmine Smalls was campaigning for Homecoming Queen in front of the Brower Student Center on Tuesday, Sept. 3, when her friends informed her that she was not on the ballot. Candidates are instructed to maintain a distance of 25 feet between themselves and the voting table, but Smalls went to investigate anyway. Sure enough, her name was missing.
A campus-wide e-mail was sent out the next day informing students of the error on the ballots and instructing students that any votes collected would have to be recast.
Voting had started at 11 a.m. on that Tuesday. Fifteen minutes later, Smalls was in the office of Pamela Mirabelli, fraternity and sorority programs coordinator and primary advisor to the Homecoming Committee.
“I quickly went down the stairs, realized the error and attempted to rectify the error by having her name written in,” Mirabelli said.
However, feeling that this solution was inadequate, Smalls decided to make an appointment with Tim Asher, associate director of Student Activities. “I wasn’t satisfied at that point,” she said.
“This gesture would not have satisfied me if I was a candidate and I believe it did not satisfy her,” Asher said.
Along with the Homecoming Committee, Asher and Smalls agreed that Tuesday’s votes would be shredded and a re-vote would be held the following day.
“I feel the course of action we agreed upon was fair and agreeable to both her and the Homecoming Committee,” Asher said.
Asher and Mirabelli expressed confidence that the results of the election would not be greatly altered as a result of the error. “There was a solid turnout (Wednesday), I believe, in part, due to the campus wide e-mail informing students of the voting,” Mirabelli said.
“I know several of this year’s Homecoming King and Queen candidates personally,” Asher said. “Although I have not had an opportunity to speak to any the candidates regarding this decision, I believe that each of them would agree that this was the fairest thing to do – the thing each of them would have asked if his or her name had been left off the ballot.”
Smalls shares their hope and seemed optimistic about her chances of winning. “I felt like I had a good chance,” she said, citing her membership in Residence Life, Ambassadors, and the College Union Board, her sponsor in the elections. “I feel like I embody what the campus wants,” she said.
Asher and Mirabelli confirmed that Smalls was the only one left off the ballot.
“Double checking by different persons unfortunately did not catch the error,” Asher said.
“When reviewing the ballot prior to making copies, I did not notice her name was missing,” Mirabelli said.
As for the reason behind her exclusion from the ballot, Smalls has her own theories. “Their excuse was a typo,” she said. “That’s not a valid excuse.”
Smalls, however, believes it was no mere accident that led to her name being left off the ballot. “I believe that people were aware that my name wasn’t on it,” she said.
“I’m the only minority queen running,” Smalls, who is black, said. “It speaks for itself.”
Smalls said that she wasn’t given a clear reason as to why her name was left off the ballot. “It kind of looks like it’s down to a race issue. If you can tell me another reason my name wasn’t on the ballot, then I would assume otherwise than it coming down to a race issue.”