Two challenges to the results of Thursday’s Oxford Union elections may see President-Elect Brendan McGrath unable to take up the Union Presidency in Michaelmas, whilst the election of Lee Chin Wee to the position of Secretary may also be challenged.
The two allegations of electoral malpractice were announced by the Union’s Returning Officer this evening, and detail claims of electoral malpractice by Ayman D’Souza, Lee Chin Wee, and Brendan McGrath.
The first allegation, lodged by ‘Unlock the Union’ campaign manager Sam Burns, deals with a claim that Ayman D’Souza made an “unsubstantiated factual claim” in the run-up to the election. Cherwell understands that this refers to D’Souza’s accusation that a piece of incorrectly filled out paperwork which prevented him from running for Librarian had been forged.
The second allegation, by former Union Press Officer Daniil Ukhorskiy constitutes an accusation that Lee Chin Wee deliberately hindered the Returning Officer in the conduct of his duties, and that McGrath aided Lee in doing this.
In an electoral tribunal, the latter allegation could see McGrath removed from office as President-Elect, whilst the election for Secretary could be re-polled.
The first allegation could further see a tribunal rule that the conduct of Sara Dube’s ‘RISE’ campaign had compromised the integrity of Thursday’s elections. This could lead to a rerun of the entire election.
Daniil Ukhorskiy told Cherwell: “I can confirm I made an allegation of electoral malpractice under rule 33(a)(i)(16): deliberately hindering or attempting to hinder the Returning Officer in the discharge of their duties as well as 33(a)(i)(24): aiding and abetting such an offence.
“The tribunal panel will meet sometime this weekend, given the fact that this is an ongoing allegation I do not wish to comment further on the substance of the the allegation.”
Similarly Samuel Burns said “The Union’s electoral rules explicitly forbid the making of unscrutinised factual statements for electoral gain.
“Mr D’Souza’s troubling allegations of a conspiracy to derail his nomination through forgery, casting insulting aspersions on his opponents and the integrity of the electoral system, fall under this category.
“There is a procedure for dealing with the sorts of behaviour he claimed occurred, and that is not making utterly unsubstantiated comments in a public forum. While Mr D’Souza was of course not elected treasurer, I firmly believe that the rules must be upheld and a strong precedent set for future elections.
“An election in which one side is allowed to throw such allegations around with no evidence or substantiation, beyond spurious claims about condiment stains, does not have a level playing field.”
The Oxford Union, RISE, and Brendan McGrath have been contacted for comment. The Returning Officer declined to comment.