EXCLUSIVE: Hacked Oxford Union votes all cast in favour of James Price
Images Description: The Oxford Union main building
New evidence has emerged that the 516 fraudulent votes were all cast in favour of James Edward Price, who was named this morning as the next Oxford Union President. Price graduated seven years ago and is believed to be the first President elected that is not currently a member of the University.
Members noticed that the Returning Officer, James Matthews, announced only 1062 votes, less than 1071 that the Election Tribunal stated be counted, as they were unaware during their investigation that an 8th IP address was used to cast a further nine fraudulent votes alongside the seven IPs previously known about. This adds to a total of 516 compromised votes.
The Oxford Student has seen evidence that all compromised votes, made from one of these IP addresses, named James Edward Price as 1st preference. Cherwell previously reported these votes had been cast in favour of a single candidate, but it has not been known until now which candidate it was.
A breach occurred that allowed the unique voter codes of registered Union members to be accessed by hackers. Voter codes were stored on Microsoft SharePoint, with a link shared with an official Oxford Union email address. Anyone with access, or able to obtain access to this email address would then have had the codes.
This is the most probable way a breach occurred. Mi-Voice confirmed, “the breach that took place was outside of Mi-Voice’s platform and control”.
Responding to a request for comment, Ben Thomas, Chief Executive of Mi-Voice stated: “[Mi-Voice] cannot 100% guarantee the integrity of the result [announced earlier today], despite the removal of what appear to be all sullied votes”.
“We fully support the Oxford Union’s Election Tribunal Report dated the 4th July 2020, which outlines in detail a breach detected by Mi-Voice.
Our recommendation, which is in line with best practice and supported by the Tribunal, was to re-run the ballot however we understand the reasons why the Standing Committee has asked Mi-Voice to conduct a count, with votes removed from any IP address where block voting had been detected.”
Thomas further stated that all remaining votes “appear to be valid” and so they were prepared to issue a result earlier today, but that they “[could not] 100% guarantee the integrity of the result”.
An anonymous member of the Oxford Union’s Committee commented that it is their belief that this was the exact gameplay the hackers wanted. They suggested that “the majority of votes targeted may have been of current students, leaving the alumni votes unsullied”. This would drastically affect the outcome. They concluded that “the entire election should’ve been rerun once we knew it was compromised.” There is no clear evidence of the demographics of voters targetted. At the time of the election, any member who emailed Mi-Voice support was able to receive a new voter code if their’s had been compromised.
It is understood that the decision to remove the votes from the 8th IP address was made by Mi-Voice to ensure the result was as secure as possible.
There is no evidence that James Edward Price, any other presidential candidate, nor any Union Official were involved in the hacking of the second election.
The Oxford Union and James Edward Price have been approached for comment.