A top OUSU committee has overturned the result of last week’s NUS referendum following allegations of serious electoral malpractice.
The decision of the Junior Tribunal means that the result – which suggested the “No” campaign had won by just over 100 votes – means that OUSU is likely to remain affiliated to the national union.
“Accordingly, we direct the Returning Officer to declare this referendum result void, under Schedule 3 of the Referendum Election Regulations 26(e),” it read.
It comes a day after Returning Officer Alexander Walker, a student at Wadham, resigned. He claimed his position was “no longer tenable” as “the grave situation with the NUS Referendum happened under my watch.”
OUSU’s Operations and Events Manager is now Acting Returning Officer. Tom Rutland, OUSU President, will bring a motion to OUSU Council in 7th week to re-affiliate, suggesting there will not be a further poll:
The matter is also understood to have been referred to the University’s Proctors’ Office, although this is unconfirmed. Elections for a new Returning Officer will take place in OUSU Council’s 5th week meeting.
The tribunal committee is made up of three former OUSU officers, all of whom left the university at least two years ago. The tribunal today consisted of Madeline Stanley, former Chair of OUSU Council, and Rich Hardiman and Lewis Iwu – both ex-sabbatical officers.
The move comes after Jack Matthews, leader of the disaffiliation campaign, claimed in a complaint that over 1,000 unique spare voter codes had been used to vote “No” in the referendum – irregularities which The Oxford Student exposed at the weekend.
The voter codes are alleged to have been used in short bursts within similar timeframes.
At this stage it is unclear whether there was malicious intent behind the irregularities. Similar cases at other universities have resulted in students being expelled.