Union rules changes overturned a week before elections

Following a complaint made against Union President Mayank Banerjee’s decision to hold a Poll on electoral rules changes, which were passed by a large majority, the Returning Officer has issued an interpretation which overturns the Poll and reverses the electoral changes.

The rules changes included the introduction of a ‘Re-Open Nominations’ option on ballot papers, as well as legalizing many forms of campaigning and slates.

Explaining his actions, the Returning Officer Thomas Reynolds wrote, “it has become apparent to me that the interpretations issued by the President regarding the processes for changing the Rules are wrong.” He further stated that under the current conditions, “it is insupportable for me to run these Elections in a transparent and correct manner.”

Reynolds continued, “the validity of this Poll has been called into question and is currently the subject of an SDC [Senior Disciplinary Complaint]. The SDC cannot now meet until after the printing of ballot papers, which must either contain an option for Re-Open Nominations, or not.

“As the Returning Officer I cannot allow the integrity of the Society’s elections to be called into question when I am able to ensure an increased degree of legitimacy.”

Reynolds explained that under the Union Rules a Poll can only be held after a debate and motion at one of the Union’s Thursday debates.

He added that the decision to proceed with a Poll  “removes the right of the Members to debate any motion, to bring amendments, or otherwise to alter the motion that could then be put to a Poll if requisitioned properly.”

In the nine-page document, the Returning Officer includes annotated versions of interpretations issued by the President, declaring these interpretations variously “relying on fallacious suppositions”, “at best wrong and at worst misleadingly so” and “false.”

The interpretation concluded, “The Rules have therefore not been changed or otherwise amended, nor has any new Rule been enacted, or any old Rule repealed. The alleged Poll of Thursday 13 November has had no effect on the Society’s Rules.”

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The interpretation means that all four of the Union’s senior positions will be automatically elected unopposed.

Robert Weeden-Sanz, Stuart Webber, Antonia Trent and Robert Harris were the only members to nominate for President, Librarian, Treasurer and Secretary respectively. However voters will now no longer have a chance to select ‘Re-Open Nominations’ in the election.

President Mayank Banerjee was unavailable for comment when contacted by Cherwell.

However Cherwell understands that the Senior Disciplinary Complaint against him has now been withdrawn following the interpretation.