Chairs consider reform after re-election

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The results of the re-vote for the Full Time Officer Positions of VP (Academic Affairs) and VP (Equality, Welfare and Diversity) were announced in the foyer of Furness College on Wednesday Week 19, and were some of the tightest in LUSU history, with one position being decided by a single vote.

With a turnout of 1625 across campus, Pete Macmillan was elected as VP (Equality, Welfare and Diversity) by 103 votes, but the real story of the night came in the Academic Affairs position, where voting went to a second round as the quota of 652.5 was not reached. After the reallocation, Paul Lynch held 652 votes and Robin Hughes emerged victorious with 653, a single vote deciding the election for the position.

The incoming VP (Academic Affairs) Robin Hughes was delighted with the result, although he was clearly exhausted after the campaigning period.

“I’m genuinely really thrilled to have been in one of the tightest elections there’s been here. I said in my hust that I would be proud to work for the union; I can now add that I also feel privileged. I will work diligently over the next year to show people that their trust was well placed, and to not let down any student, whether I received their vote or not.

As for the last two weeks of Elections, they were extremely draining. With no specific campaign manager, there are so many people I could thank, and I appreciate every one of them, but I’d like to give a shout out to Sarah Taylor, Mike Clarke and Tracey Conterio for some great support.”

Pete Macmillan, the incoming VP (Equality, Welfare and Diversity) expressed his happiness at the result, but detailed the emotional difficulty that the re-election caused for all candidates.

“I’m absolutely ecstatic to have won. It still hasn’t really sunk in, I can’t believe that I’ve managed to fight off some really good candidates in Chaz and Neil. I’m really looking forward to getting into the role and making the most of this fantastic opportunity.

Obviously it would have been nice if I’d have won outright in the first vote but that wasn’t to be so I just had to sit tight and hope for the best. Luckily for me it worked out. However, words cannot express the stress that I experienced as a result of the re-vote, something I’m sure most of the other candidates would echo.”

Andy Johnston, VP (Finance, Events, Democracy and Societies) said of the elections: “Everyone presumed that turnout [in the re-election] would fall dramatically, by half if not more, but in fact the figure was very positive and only a couple of hundred fewer than the original turnout. Although the circumstances are unique it shows that elections and votes can be held in short periods and publicity can be very focused and intensive.”

He added: “With regards to the mistakes made during the elections all I can do is apologise to the candidates and voters again, we are making big steps to ensure as best we can that they will not be replicated.”

 Samantha Johnson, the Chair of Elections, discussed several points raised by the election, and what could be done to change the system for the better.

“Reverting to paper ballots was not suggested. Obviously one option would be to pay someone other than VP (FEDS) and the DRO to staff and overview elections. Election sub-committee is considering that the proposals and seconder process may not remain and that Chairs should keep it at their discretion. The nominations process may be lengthened.”

Johnson also disclosed the possible use of social networking sites for campaigning.

“We think that Facebook adverts can be used if included in the budget. We also think that Facebook chat, walls and discussions in groups should be allowed. We will consider permitting mentioning policies and campaigning in messages. Additionally, it was suggested that a zero tolerance approach should be taken to abusive content and that the chair of elections and VP (FEDS) should still be administrators of candidate’s groups.”

Also discussed were several other key points, including that a limit for questions, answers and speeches in Hustings may be included, that the budget for the elections was deemed adequate and would remain the same, and that negative campaigning regarding policies, not personal issues, may be permitted. If any of the new, or previous, rules were deemed to be broken, no points deduction would occur, a verbal then written warning would instead be administered.

To summate the election and re-election debacle, and in reference to any possible future changes, Johnson offered a word of warning.

“There are never any sure guarantees that problems will not occur and obviously there are benefits and risks with all decisions. We can alleviate and mitigate the risks and provide frameworks to offer guidance for when things do change.”

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