Update: a subsequent third count of votes determined that Chakraborty did not, in fact, win the election and he will not be an ADEMs delegate as of March 12.
One month after accepting a narrow, 13-vote defeat in the California Democratic Party’s Assembly District Election Meetings, Shayok Chakraborty PO ’19 received an onslaught of phone notifications Monday informing him that he had actually won the election in a recount.
Chakraborty didn’t know a recount was happening until he was informed of his victory, he said.
“The party resources manager [at the California Democratic Party] basically just started recounting the ballots herself,” he said. “There were some [vote numbers] that were just really wildly off.”
Chakraborty mounted a last-minute campaign for the ADEMs seat in January. Now, he’ll represent Democrats in California’s 41st Assembly District by voting on issues at the California Democratic Party Convention, including which candidates the party endorse for state office. ADEMs have no governing power and are not state officials.
Chakraborty learned about ADEMs in December 2018 when Sam Horowitz PZ ’20, the president of Democrats of the Claremont Colleges, reached out to the College Community Action Network — a progressive student organization Chakraborty founded — about the election.
But he had no plans of running until Karen May, a community organizer, contacted him about running to increase representation from Claremont and Upland in the ADEMs for California’s 41st District.
“Historically what we’ve seen in [this assembly district] is almost … all of the delegates have been from Pasadena,” Chakraborty said. He ran to change that and bring new voices to the California Democratic Party, he said.
Chakraborty joined May as part of the East 41 Forward Slate, an alliance of five progressive ADEM candidates from the Inland Valley who advocated for affordable housing policies, universal healthcare coverage, increasing funding for public education and addressing climate change, according to their Facebook page.
CCAN mobilized to support Chakraborty and East 41 Forward’s campaign in just one week. The club spread information on Facebook and messaged so many people that Facebook shut down Chakraborty’s account the day before the election, mistaking his account for a spam bot, he said. At the polls, CCAN went down the line of people waiting to vote, trying to convince people to vote for East 41 Forward candidates.
The first tally of the ballots showed that Chakraborty had lost by just 13 votes out of a total of 769, he said.
Sometime in the last month, California Democratic Party Resources Manager Unique Wilson received a request for a vote recount from District 41, Chakraborty said.
While counting the ballots, Wilson discovered sporadic discrepancies, including differences in hundreds of ballots, Chakraborty said. The recount moved Chakraborty, formerly the ninth place finisher, up to seventh place, securing him a seat by a six-vote margin, according to a final ballot tally.
“I don’t think [the miscounting is] necessarily a conspiracy or foul-play,” he said. “It’s not clear who benefited in a lot of ways.”
As a delegate, Chakraborty plans to bring student voices from the 5Cs to the state Democratic Party. Before the convention, CCAN plans to hold a forum to collect student opinions, which Chakraborty will bring to the party.
“This is not just about a set of positions, this is about representing this community,” Chakraborty said. “[East 41 Forward] specifically ran on opening the party up to a different region, a different set of groups and experiences.”