The battle of the chants ended in cheers and tears as Access Party claimed victory at the end of a nail-biting campaign season Wednesday night.
Despite Swamp Party’s established political presence, Access Party took the executive ticket with 6,316 votes compared with Swamp’s 6,192. For the first time since 1999, a minority political party took a majority of the election seats, according to Alligator archives.
The defeat nearly mirrors that of the 1999 Spring election, which saw the success of newly formed Progress Party against the strongly backed majority Vision Party.
Students broke records this election, casting a historic high of 12,742 ballots, said Hans Rojas, UF Supervisor of Elections. Spring 2014 brought in 10,048 votes.
Access’ Joselin Padron-Rasines and Kevin Doan took 50.11 percent of ballots cast, beating Swamp’s Joseph Michaels and Tia Smart by 124 votes.
Nicholas Carre, Access treasurer-elect, earned 6,482 votes — 51.61 percent — receiving 484 more votes than Swamp’s candidate, Hadar Arazi. She received 5,998 votes.
Rojas announced the results at 10:30 p.m. in the Reitz Union breezeway. Along with the executive ticket, Access took 27 Senate seats and Swamp won 23.
Access filled all six seats in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, UF’s largest college. The College of Engineering’s four seats will also be represented by Access.
The Sophomore seat was split, with four seats for Swamp and two for Access. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has one Swamp seat and two Access seats. The College of Journalism is split, with each party holding one seat.
Both parties submitted complaints, with six from Access and six from Swamp. There will be a meeting at the UF Levin College of Law today regarding the complaints.
The tight race was reminiscent of Spring 2012, when the Unite Party got 50.27 percent of the executive ticket vote and beat the Students Party by just 114 votes.
“Si se puede,” the crowd of Access members chanted. “Yes we can,” as the Spanish phrase is often translated to English.
And they did.
“I can’t believe this happened,” Padron-Rasines said through sobs. “I don’t think words can describe this feeling.”
UF’s first Latina Student Body president hugged her running mates. Makeup ran down her face.
“All of us are honored,” she said.
Access’ campaign manager Michael Christ said he never thought he’d see a minority political party win in his time at UF.
“Now the real work begins,” he said.
In a huddle, Swamp members cried and hugged, but they took the news in stride.
Swamp spokesman and President Ricky Salabarria said he is proud of the campaign, from the candidates to the volunteers to the supporters, and he is looking forward to their continued service to students.
He said he knows the winning candidates will represent students to the best of their abilities. Business will resume as planned.
“Tonight we are the winners, and we wear the white hats,” Salabarria said. “We fought the good fight. We stayed true to our message.”
Out of a huddle of Swamp supporters came words of consolation.
“The Fall campaign starts tomorrow.”
[A version of this story ran on page 1 - 4 on 2/26/2015 under the headline “124 votes make history”]
Clarification: The original story said the Access Party was the first minority party to win the executive ticket since 1999, but it's actually the first to win the majority of senate seats since 1999. In 2004, two new parties duked it out, and the then-newly formed Access Party took the executive ticket. We are looking into the results of the election further.