On the final night before the polls open for this year’s OUSU election, candidates spent their remaining hours trading blows in one of the most aggressive campaign seasons of recent years. Returning Officer Nick Cooper was obliged to make two judgments on Monday after the Jane4Change and TeamAlex slates were found to have committed electoral malpractice.
Voting opened at 8:00 this morning and will close at 18:00 on Thursday. Results will be announced on Thursday evening at around 20:30.
In an announcement made yesterday, the Bartram campaign’s claims that their candidates were “not student politicians” were called “misleading” by the returning officer, following a complaint from the Jane4Change slate.
Team Alex’s campaign agent David Bagg conceded that some of those standing on the slate are student politicians.
However, OUSU’s returning officer did not agree with complaints that Bartram is a “career politician”, citing a lack of necessary evidence.
Cooper has ordered that Team Alex “remove any Facebook posts with the claim that their candidates are not student politicians”.
The beleaguered Jane4Change campaign continued to hone its seeming talent for gaffes, after reports emerged that the slate had been disciplined for the second time in 24 hours. Cooper announced yesterday afternoon that campaigners had been illicitly replacing ‘Reclaim OUSU’ posters with those promoting the Cahill team, following a complaint made by presidential candidate Nathan Akehurst. However, after Jane4Change official Helena Dollimore claimed that the slate did not endorse these actions, the team was ordered to hand over two posters within 24 hours as a token punishment.
He commented: “I upheld Mr Akehurst’s complaint. However, I accept Ms Dollimore’s mitigation that the Pembroke JCR incident was not behaviour condoned by the slate”
“In order to communicate trust that behaviour like this is not acceptable, I order that Jane4Change surrender two posters by 5pm on Tuesday 19th November 2013”
“I remind all Candidates that they are considered responsible for their supporters’ behaiviour.”
Dollimore later stated, “It was an isolated incident and the slate has apologised to Reclaim OUSU on the individuals behalf.”
Akehurst commented: “Circumstantial it may be, but it seems somewhat odd that our posters disappear and are replaced by a Jane4Change poster a day later. I might think anyone intending to commit electoral malpractice would go about it slightly less obviously, but am not so sure after the website plagiarism debacle.”
Reclaim OUSU candidate for Rent and Accommodation and Merton JCR member Sophie Terrett also claimed that similar events had occurred in her college:
“This is clearly tampering with our election material, and therefore breaks Schedule 2, Paragraph 1 of the election regulations. I think it’s very sad that we have had to take time out of our campaigning to deal with this situation and report it; this is not an isolated example, and when combined with reports of the Jane4Change slate’s mistakes regarding website design it creates a rather unfortunate picture.”
Not all was doom and gloom in the Cahill camp, however, after receiving a lengthy endorsement from Cherwell editor Nick Hilton, who stated:
“Even though I’ll be gone – unless you give me a Masters (please give me a Masters) – I still find myself, somewhat inexplicably, caring who becomes President of our student union.”
Meanwhile, Louis Trup released a camping video urging all students to vote for the candidate with a “serious message[…]behind the fun.” Check it out below: