The recent election of a new Keble JCR president has caused controversy as the Sean Ford, the winning candidate, received fewer first preference votes than his only competitor for the presidency.
Keble uses the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system to elect its president with JCR members ranking the candidates numerically, including the option to Re-Open Nominations (RON), according to their preferences.
Although Alex Connolly, a first-year historian at Keble, received one more first preference vote than Ford, his total of seventy eight votes left him just under the fifty per cent support required in order to become elected.
This meant that the three voters who chose RON as their first preference had their next preference votes counted in a second round. One of them chose no second preference and the other two selected Ford as their second choice, taking Ford’s total of votes up to seventy nine and winning him the presidency.
Sean Ford, winner of the election and a first-year PPEist at Keble, told Cherwell, “I was elected by the rules of the constitution. I do not see how the process can be more legitimate. The point of STV is that someone will be elected who has a majority of the JCR’s support.”
He added, “No matter what the system, if Alex and I had been as close as we were, then the result may seem controversial but at the end of it, we can only work with the method the constitution lays out.”
Ford also defended the importance of being able to vote for RON in JCR elections. He said, “Sometimes those nominated are not up to the standards of the JCR. It is important that we have the option to reject candidates.”
Alex Connolly, the losing candidate, told Cherwell, “The constitution is clear as to how the voting system works so I have no grounds for formal complaint, but having said this, it was a very, very unsatisfactory way to lose.”
James Newton, the outgoing JCR President, commented, “Keble JCR conducts its elections through Single Transferable Vote. This system has been in use for well over five years in Keble and its procedure is laid out clearly in Appendix A. Last week’s elections were carried out in full accordance with these procedures and each successful candidate was duly elected.”
A fresher studying PPE at Keble, said, “I think it must have been just about the closest run thing ever, as close as a Grand National photo finish. Which makes sense as both Sean and Alex would have done a fantastic job as President and they both had pretty strong fan bases.
She added, “People have said that it was unfair; maybe so, maybe not, but it is really great to have had an election where literally every vote and second vote counted. And if I’m honest, I am glad to see a PPEist back in a position of power.”