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BREAKING: Union decides against new poll, votes from hacked election will be counted

The Union's Standing Committee has rejected an independent Election Tribunal's recommendation of a Re-Poll and will announce the results of the Second Election on Thursday.

In a decision against the Election Tribunal’s recommendation that the Union hold a re-poll after the second poll for President was hacked, the Union Standing Committee has decided instead to count the “unsullied” votes from the second poll.

This would discount the 507 ‘block votes’ that were all sent from one of seven IP addresses and all ranked candidates in the same order. The remaining 1071 legitimate votes will comprise the electoral count. The results will be declared by Thursday.

The President of the Union has confirmed to Cherwell: “Having been given the opportunity to do so by the Election Tribunal, Standing Committee chose to reject a July Re-Poll in favour of a declared result based on non-compromised ballots. I hope that this is concluded swiftly, so we can get back to work.”

Cherwell was told that members of the Standing Committee worried about the security and public relations concerns should a third poll be held.

The Tribunal, consisting of ex-Officers and a qualified lawyer, proposed that the invalid election on June 19th be resolved by carrying out an electronic re-poll in July. All 1,783 members who registered in June would have been asked to cast their votes again.

The Tribunal had “accepted the advice of [the voting service] Mi-Voice that they could not safely assume that a tally of those votes would produce a result free from the overall taint of the improper interference which had produced the 507 block votes (and possibly others).”

The report of the Election Tribunal, which was published on July 4th, further notes that “some of the 507 block votes, if genuinely cast, might have supported different candidates in different proportions. The Tribunal further concluded that a count of the probably unsullied votes might possibly disenfranchise a third of those voting…”

The Tribunal said, in the event that the Standing Committee did not accept a re-poll, the next best option was to remove the 507 block votes and use the remaining results. It notes that “the four Candidates would be prepared to accept” this option.

On the morning of the Second Election, which was called after Union members voted to Re-Open Nominations for the Union presidency, members who had registered to vote online using their Union Card Number were sent an email containing a unique link and voting number. 

After polls had closed, the Oxford Union Returning Officer decided not to count votes after some members were unable to vote using the voting service Mi-Voice. Some members who attempted to use their link were reportedly directed to a page informing them that their “Unique Voter Code…has already been used”. Under the Union’s Standing Order D5(f), the issue was referred to an Election Tribunal.

Failure to elect an Oxford Union President is unprecedented in the society’s history.

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