Ani Ajith, Alex Van Atta win election for ASG president, vice president

Ani Ajith celebrates with supporters at the Black House after learning he won Friday’s election to become Associated Student Government’s next president. Ajith and running mate Alex Van Atta defeated three other tickets.

Manuel Rapada, Breaking News Editor

Ani Ajith and Alex Van Atta beat three other pairs Friday evening to win the Associated Student Government election for president and executive vice president.

“Alex and I have spent the last three years at Northwestern working across communities and building relationships,” Ajith told The Daily during a campaign gathering at the Black House. “To see people who are friends or supporters coming together from across the campus really meant a lot to us.”

Election commissioner Jason Richardson said Ajith, a Weinberg junior, and Van Atta, a McCormick junior, were the clear victors under a new preferential voting model that asked students to rank the four presidential tickets instead of choosing just one.

“If the candidates are paired off, Ani and Alex won against each of them” in addition to winning a plurality of the first-place votes, said Richardson, a Weinberg senior.

More than 3,400 students cast an online ballot, also picking Communication junior Anna Kottenstette for student life vice president. Weinberg junior Sofia Sami won an uncontested race for academic vice president.

Richardson called Ajith, a former Daily staffer, shortly after polls closed at 5 p.m. to announce the victory. Van Atta and outgoing executive vice president Brad Stewart stood nearby, waiting for Ajith to share the news. Supporters burst into screams when Ajith said he had won.

“To hear that we were elected by the student body, it’s very humbling to know the campus is trusting us with ASG to lead for the next year,” Van Atta said.

Ajith and Van Atta’s most competitive face-off was against SESP juniors David Harris and Jo Lee. Ajith and Van Atta were ranked more favorably than Harris and Lee more than 53 percent of the time.

Despite the narrow defeat, Harris said he would not have changed anything about his campaign.

“We’re really proud of what we built,” Harris said. “We’re sad it didn’t work out the way we wanted it, but I know that Ani and Alex will do a phenomenal job and are amazing leaders for Northwestern and for ASG.”

Paired against SESP junior Benison Choi and Weinberg junior Danny Kim, Ajith and Van Atta were ranked higher more than 70 percent of the time.

Upon learning the results, Choi said he was disappointed but maintained that running for ASG president was an amazing experience.

“I’m such a happy man,” he said. “It’s over, I did it and I can’t complain.”

Against Weinberg juniors Aaron Zelikovich and Henry Brooke, Ajith and Van Atta received better rankings more than 67 percent of the time. Zelikovich declined to immediately comment after the election results were released.

Editor’s note: Richardson clarified his quote on how Ajith and Van Atta won Friday’s election.

Joseph Diebold, Jeanne Kuang, Junnie Kwon and Cat Zakrzewski contributed reporting.