ELECTORAL FRAUD: 1 in 6 votes for CUSU Women’s Officer cast by self-identifying men
Statistical analysis reveals enough self-identifying men voted to change the results of the election
17% of voters broke CUSU electoral rules in the 2015 Women’s Officer election in which Charlotte Chorley was elected.
The list of men who voted includes high-profile individuals associated with The Cambridge Union Society, Varsity Surf, CUCA, The Tab, Blue Specs, the Bluebird and The Globalist. More shockingly, three of the seven male Top 10 BNOCs are on the list.
The role of the CUSU Women’s Officer is to advance the interests of women and non-binary students by coordinating WomCam, an autonomous campaign. According to their website, WomCam represents “all those who self-define as women, including (if they wish) those with gender identities which include ‘woman’, and those who feel that they experience misogynistic oppression.”
Despite the broad group WomCam claims to speak for, both the CUSU Constitution and WomCam Constitution emphasise that only self-defining women are allowed to vote for the position of Women’s Officer. According to the CUSU Constitution, the Women’s Officer’s “electors shall be all those ordinary members who self-define as women.”
Including all students on the electoral roll is a mechanism designed to protect trans women. Jemma Stewart, CUSU Coordinator, told The Tab: “We don’t want to police people’s genders and as such place all students on the electoral ballot, asking that only self-defining women vote in the election”.
The WomCam Constitution says: “It is the belief of the CUSU Women’s Union that women students are entitled to representation by a woman student who is elected by a women-only franchise to be their representative.”
Molly O’Connor, a female-identifying student who voted in the 2015-16 Election, echoed the view that women should be allowed to choose their own representative to promote their views: “Men shouldn’t be voting in the Women’s Officer elections,” she said.
“This is the opportunity for the self-identifying women of Cambridge to choose their own representative and men should not have influence over our choice.”
The Tab’s statistical analysis indicates around 250 of the 1471 voters were male. The Tab arrived at this figure through the following process:
- Obtaining the list of CRSIDS that were used to vote in the election. This information is public.
- Using an algorithm to put the list through the Hermes address book and acquire a list of names. This technique worked for 68% of the CRSIDS, as some students who voted in the election have subsequently left Cambridge.
- Using personal contacts and social media to come up with the gender breakdown for 689 people on the electoral roll.
- Extrapolating from that breakdown to the entire election.
Charlotte Chorley won the three-round election by 219 votes. Votes cast by fraudulent electors may have completely changed the outcome of the election.
Last year, TCS reported that a male member of Chorley’s campaign team admitted to voting. Another anonymous male voter, who refused to comment on whether or not he knew men were allowed to vote, said Chorley was the “least worst option”.
Some male voters admit to disagreeing with the premise that women should have a representative elected solely by female-identifying students.They believe they deserve a voice in choosing the Women’s Officer. One anonymous male elector said: “It isn’t a straightforward issue but I think the issues influence me as a person. And within a democratic organisation everyone involved should be allowed to vote.”
A second man said: “I voted because I don’t believe that a feminism whose goal is to remove patriarchy is going to go anywhere. You need a positive movement based on equality that includes both men and women, and I voted because I thought Charlie was going to do things much more in that spirit than Amelia (was it Amelia? I mean the other person). I knew I was breaking the rules, but that vote affected everyone in Cambridge.”
Another man, a Tab Top 50 BNOC, said “I’m not sure I can really justify it plausibly without sounding like a massive wanker”.
Other men participated in the ballot to make a broader point about CUSU: “I was RONing anybody I could after CUSU failed to reach their legitimating threshold of 10% in the referendum on constitutional changes (they only reached 7%),” said a male voter.After that I felt that they had lost their credibility with the student population and their demands were illegitimate.”
“After that I felt that they had lost their credibility with the student population and their demands were illegitimate.”
A large number of men who spoke to The Tab claimed not to have voted with a specific intent. Many were simply unaware only self-identifying women were eligible to vote, raising questions about the way the election is promoted to students. “I’m somehow dumb enough to not realise that I wasn’t actually eligible to vote,” said one anonymous man.
Another male voter said “There was an email saying the vote was open, so I voted without really thinking about it, and didn’t realise until after the fact that it was for women only.”
Both current Women’s Officer candidates in the ongoing CUSU Elections condemned the men who voted.
“Voting for Women’s Officer when you self-define as a man is undemocratic and not fair. Hopefully the same will not be done this year, and the vote will be more fairly representative of self-defining women,” said Connie Muttock.
Audrey Sebatindira said: “The elections rely on the integrity of the student body. Having men vote not only undermines the mandate of the elected women’s officer, it also evinces a general lack of respect for CUSU, which is a problem I think all the candidates intend to rectify should they be elected.”
The Tab approached several men who voted but none were willing to speak to us on the record. One said: “Though I feel that there are very legitimate reasons to why I voted in the CUSU elections for Women’s Officer, I really don’t want to discuss them on the record. The CUSU Women’s Campaign scare me and I suspect they scare a large number of other students too. I don’t want to be victimised by them and shitted on over Twitter and Facebook. It’s hard to have open conversations and discussions in this atmosphere.”
Several College Women’s Officers were approached by The Tab. None were willing to comment. One said she was unwilling to speak “before I know all the facts about the situation and WomCam’s view on it”.
The Tab contacted CUSU Women’s Officer Charlotte Chorley twelve days ago and President Priscilla Mensah a week ago. Despite multiple requests, no comment has been received.
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