The Union’s standing committee has recommended a private business motion proposed by President Mayank Banerjee to fundamentally overhaul elections. The motion allows open campaigning, the formation of slates and the introduction of Re Open Nominations as an option on the ballot papers, in a series of wide ranging reforms to its termly elections, the OxStu can report.
Before the motion can become part of the Union’s rules it must be brought in front of the chamber, which Banerjee plans to do next Thursday at 5pm. It will be ratified by acclamation unless 15 or more members object to the result. In this case case the house will be divided and the whole chamber will vote. If the proposals pass, the new rules will be in effect for this term’s elections in 7th week.
The proposed changes would allow candidates to openly canvass for election both physically and online, although there will be several exceptions to this. These exceptions includes the spending of money on promotional materials, paid for advertising and the production of videos to be used in campaigning.
These rules would allow candidates to form slates, or teams of candidates, although they will not be allowed to claim the endorsement of any University society or political, national, racial or religious group.
While Rule 33 of the Union’s constitution currently prohibits the running on slates, or the discussion of one’s candidacy and the solicitation of votes beyond “close personal friends”, it is considered an open secret in the Union that these rules are frequently disregarded by candidates. A senior union official admitted that the rules as they currently stand “are considered something of a farce.”
The Union also intends to introduce a ballot system for high profile speaker events after last night’s long queues that developed from the visit of Sir Ian McKellen which saw member queuing from 3.30pm for an 8pm talk.
These changes come as part of a wide-ranging attempt to reform the way the Union is run and follow the introduction of a means of impeaching the President and other senior officers, as well as an automatic suspension from office following an arrest.
Union President Mayank Banerjee explained the reasons for the introduction of these changes as well as the timing by saying: “People often complain about how Union elections are run, and these changes are designed to make them as open and fair as possible. Alongside some of the other changes that have already passed this term, we hope that they will go some way to addressing members’ concerns about the Union.”
Banerjee added: “I encourage all members to suggest any amendments to the electoral changes over the coming week, and to attend the meeting to pass them taking place at 5pm on Thursday of 5th Week.”
Last term several candidates, including a candidate for President, were convicted of electoral malpractice and disqualified from the election including for soliciting votes via electronic means following a tribunal. These actions would now become permissible under the proposed changes.