OUSU has been forced to issue an apology after a number of JCR officers criticised its handling of college elections.
OUSU’s actions were described as “deeply frustrating” after it cancelled its subscription to Mi-Voice – the online voting system previously used in most JCR elections – during the summer. OUSU officials failed to set up a new system in time for the beginning of term, with many JCRs consequently forced to postpone scheduled elections. Wadham JCR has delayed elections for its Vice President and Charities Officer, with Somerville JCR forced to use a paper ballot in its elections on Thursday. OUSU was also criticised for the failure to inform JCRs of its actions.
OUSU cancelled its subscription to Mi-Voice due to weaknesses in the system and the potential for electoral fraud. President Louis Trup blamed the inability to establish a new system in time for Fresher’s Week on “the complexities of the data and its ownership”.
Trup stated: “Our mistake was in not being more transparent about the work going on to make this happen. We apologise to the colleges for any inconvenience caused and will notify you as soon as the elections module is available”. Trup added that OUSU has put “all its available energy” into resolving the issue.
Wadham SU Chair Andrew McKay said he felt “let down” by OUSU. McKay, a third-year Human Sciences student, stated: “It has caused a great deal of inconvenience … we want to know why common rooms were seemingly not informed of this change.”
Aliya Yule, a candidate in the postponed election for Wadham SU Vice-President, commented that OUSU’s actions are “deeply frustrating”, stating: “It would have been nice if OUSU had let colleges know, rather than allowing us to find out when it came to setting up our elections in 1st week.” Yule also voiced concern about the ability of OUSU officials to organise their own elections, scheduled for 6th week of Michaelmas.
Discussing Somerville’s JCR elections, which due to the online difficulties will be held by paper ballot, Returning Officer Joe Smith stated: “I feel that it may actually increase turnout due to the election appearing more visible, rather than simply having voter codes that get lost in people’s inboxes”.
But one Somerville student told the OxStu: “I know my ancestors fought for my right to vote but I’d much rather exercise that right from the comfort of my chair using my laptop than have to make the arduous trek to some ballot box. Think about all those poor Cowley dwellers who will be disenfranchised through laziness”.
Mi-Voice states on its website that it aims to “provide the most cost effective solution for our customers and to increase participation in customer events”.
OUSU’s decision may be related to the allegations of vote ‘rigging’ following the University’s referendum on NUS affiliation held in May. The allegations, which concerned 1,000 seemingly tampered votes, caused the referendum to be voided.