The election of Oxford University Labour Club’s Trinity co-chairs was decided by a coin-toss after both sets of candidates recorded equal votes. Anthony Breach and Kevin Feeney, having tied with Tom Rutland and Sarah Coombes, eventually triumphed in the coin toss.
The surprising decision came after Jack Evans, the Returning Officer, and Cllr Scott Seamons had counted the votes multiple times to be certain that it was a dead heat. This was the first tie in the election of co-chairs in OULC’s near-100 year history, and given the lack of precedent, they turned to Eleanor Brown, the ‘functioning expert on the OULC Constitution’ to seek a solution. The Constitution provided for a run-off election at ‘the earliest possible opportunity’. However, as a mutually acceptable date for a re-election could not be agreed on, they decided to use a coin toss.
Rutland and Coombes, who lost out in the toss, commented, ‘We think changes should be made to prevent similar occurrences’.
New co-chair, Kevin Feeney praised the way the situation was dealt with, saying he thought that ‘OULC handled a really difficult issue extremely well, to the credit of our Chair, Returning Officer, and candidates on all sides- as well as the membership as a whole’.
His co-chair elect, Anthony Breach, stressed the importance of defusing potential tensions, explaining, ‘the coin toss method was deliberately chosen so as to minimise the chance of ill-feeling amongst members, and it has been wholly successful in doing that’.
Feeney added that he felt confident ‘that OULC is now united and ready to move forwards to the Oxford City Council Elections’.
The two unlucky losers in this situation did agree that ‘it was the fairest thing to do’ but said they found it ‘regrettable that the outcome of the election was decided just by luck rather than any substantive differences between the candidates’.