In the announcement, the Returning Officer stated that they had made the decision in consultation with mi-voice, the software the Union use to hold the online election. A member of the Union’s committee has confirmed that this was entirely due to technical issues associated with the software.
Earlier today, some voters had reported an error message when trying to cast their vote, which stated that “The Unique Voter Code that you have entered has already been used”. They were urged to contact [email protected]
This decision was made under Standing Order D5(f) which reads as follows:
“If the Returning Officer determines at any stage that further counting would be unlikely to produce a true Election result, the Returning Officer shall inform all Representatives of Candidates and Deputy Returning Officers of this and post a notice on the noticeboard. An Election Tribunal shall then be constituted to which the proceedings of the Election will be referred. This power shall only be exercised before the official publication of the results of the Election and, once enacted, shall suspend all requirements upon the Returning Officer regarding the Count. The ballot papers and other Count materials shall be sealed up as if the Count had been completed until the Election Tribunal is able to inspect them.”
The full Oxford Union Rules and Regulations can be found HERE.
The Returning Officer in the announcement letter confirmed that “neither [him]nor any Union Official have any knowledge of the precise information regarding ballots cast.”
It is understood that Returning Officer determined that the technical issues were serious enough, though no specifics are known at this point, that the decision was made to declare the election invalid. Only the RO had access to the software throughout the day.
What Happens Now?
The Election Tribunal will meet sometime soon, likely over the next weekend, to examine the situation. They will then make a decision and what follows depends on this. Failure to successfully elect a President is unprecedented.
The Oxford Union and Presidential Candidates have been contacted for comment