Alumnus elected as Oxford Union President

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Following a victory for RON, and a hacked second election, James Edward Price, who graduated seven years ago, will be the next President of the Oxford Union. 

In his Manifesto, he stated: “I am running because I think it’s funny, and also because I would be better than anyone else. I have already stood for Parliament, so won’t feel the need to act like most union hacks tiresomely do. I’ve handled real budgets and managed teams of actual grownups in multiple jobs in the real world.

Price has worked in Government as the Special Adviser to the Leader of the House of Lords and now works in communications.

“I know how to run events and will be able to personally invite lots of interesting speakers, as well as the less interesting ones. After the omnishambles you’ve recently had, you could do worse. The Price is right.”

Beatrice Barr, current President told The Oxford Student: “This is obviously an unprecedented result, to conclude an unprecedented election. I’m relieved that the Trinity Election is finally over, so we can get on with the real work.”

Final results are as follows:

431 votes for James Edward Price

375 votes for Jeremy Rose Bararia

225 votes for Amy Gregg

30 votes for Joseph Mochhoury

This year’s Union election has been notably turbulent: 

How events unfolded this election:

This terms Oxford Union election was for the first time conducted online via Mi-Voice in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic.

3rd June 2020: A candidate for the Elevate slate was publicly condemned for invoking the George Floyd protests in ‘hack’ message sent to members of the Union in an attempt to gather votes.

3rd June 2020: Following the public outcry over this message, all four officer candidates for the Elevate slate (President, Librarian, Treasurer, and Secretary) failed to nominate themselves for the elections by the deadline of 3 pm on that day, effectively dropping out of the race. This left the officer candidates for the Hope slate, headed by Jack Solomon, as the only candidates for the four positions.

5th June 2020: Harry Deacon, who until that week had intended to run for President of the Oxford Union as head of the Elevate slate, resigned from his current position as Union Librarian. There had already been calls to have him forcibly removed following the handling of the hack message controversy.

12th June 2020: Members of the Union voted to RON (re-open nominations) for the only presidential candidate, Jack Solomon, who had faced severe criticism following substantial allegations by the Secretary, Cansu Uyguroglu, of racist comments he had made in the past. 

In total, 666 votes were cast, with Solomon receiving 300 while RON obtained 325 votes. The other three Officer positions were won by the other Hope slate candidates. This meant that a re-run of the presidential election occurred in the following week.

19th June 2020: The Oxford Blue reports that 300 alumni have registered to vote after James Price, who graduated seven years ago from Worcester College, was nominated for the presidential election. Price stated that he was running in part “because it’s funny” and in part “because [he] would be better than anyone else”. Price was able to run for office after the normal Oxford residency requirements, that a candidate must live within 25 miles of Oxford, were lifted due to the pandemic.

Other candidates running in the election were Amy Gregg, DPhil student, Exeter College; Jeremy Bararia, Economics and Management undergraduate, Lady Margaret Hall; Joseph Mochhoury, Law undergraduate, St Hugh’s College.

19th June 2020 (day of the election) The Returning Officer for the Oxford Union announced there shall be no declaration of results and refers the issue to an Election Tribunal. The decision was made in consultation with mi-voice, the software the Union use to hold the online election. A member of the Union’s committee confirmed to The Oxford Student that this was entirely due to technical issues associated with the software.

The Union’s Electoral Tribunal would consist of one ex-Returning Officer and qualified barrister, one ex-President, and one ex-Treasurer, and they were due to make a decision in the following week. Failure to successfully elect a President was unprecedented.

4th July 2020: The Cherwell reports that the Election Tribunal investigating the Second election for president has concluded that the Mi-Voice database of registered votes was improperly accessed and over 500 votes were cast illegitimately, but the Tribunal “does not have any evidence, whether on the balance of probability or otherwise, that the candidate who received all the first preferences in the 507 block votes was aware of, or instrumental in, securing those preference.”

They made a recommendation that a third-election be held before the end of July with only the 1,783 members who registered in June able to cast their votes again. This decision was subject to approval by the Standing Committee.

5th July 2020The Cherwell reports that the Union Standing Committee has gone against the recommendation of the Election Tribunal, and decided instead to count the “unsullied” votes from the second poll. Therefore, the 507 votes cast from one of the seven IP addresses would be discounted.

Cherwell was told that members of the Standing Committee worried about the security and public relations concerns should a third poll be held. 

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