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LUSU address disqualification of RON in by-election

RON received 181 non-transferable votes

Lancaster University Students’ Union have released a statement regarding their justifications for disqualifying any votes to reopen nominations (RON) in the recent by-election for the role of President within the Students’ Union.

The Union has come under fire from the majority of Lancaster University’s colleges, including County College, which has threatened to disaffiliate from the Union over its handling of the by-election, the full motion for which can be found here.

In a statement released today, Lancaster University Students’ Union have posted some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) surrounding the disqualification of reopen nomination votes:

Why was the RON candidate disqualified?

“This was a decision taken by the external Returning Officer – who is totally independent of Lancaster University Students’ Union including the Trustee Board.

“The Union received complaints about the RON campaign from student members. They included allegations of breaches of the election rules by RON.

“In accordance with our election procedures these complaints and the evidence provided were submitted to our independent and external Returning Officer for consideration.

“When dealing with complaints against RON, where there is no identifiable individual(s) who have identified themselves running the campaign, as the NUS Returning Officer, feel it is important that any evidence reaches a certain threshold. This is necessary as there is no ability to give advice, apply sanctions or for a candidate to submit an appeal.

“It was the determination of the Returning Officer, on considering all the evidence provided, that the evidence met that threshold.”

What were the complaints about?

“The Returning Officer determined there were breaches of the rules and the spirit of the regulations by RON. These included campaign expenditure, campaign postings, and imagery used and the reproduction and editing without permission of copyright materials, including a Q&A from LA1TV.

“Evidence was also presented of postings and imagery that were identified as needing to be referred to other disciplinary processes to be investigated as they do not meet the equality, diversity and inclusion standards and behaviours which are set by the Students’ Union and the University. This post was at best an ill-conceived, unthinking microaggression and at worst overtly racist.

“There were also concerns raised by students with the anonymity of those creating and posting content, with no method of determining if they are current student members at the University, and therefore should be involved in the elections at all.

“Based on the weight of evidence presented in the complaints received, the external Returning Officer determined that RON should be disqualified from the elections and the count conducted with the remaining candidates.

“We understand that not being able to announce the results while these investigations were ongoing has caused distress, especially for candidates, but given the nature and complexity of the complaints, it was necessary that the complaint be resolved before the election could be counted.”

How many votes did RON receive?

“The Students’ Union is required to make sure that all complaints received about alleged breaches of election rules, and any challenges made about the process or integrity of the election are fully considered and actioned before the count is able to be undertaken.

“In this instance, RON was disqualified from the elections and the count conducted with the remaining candidates. The results from the first round of elections show that 181 votes were unable to be transferred to continuing candidates. This indicates that 181 students voted for RON as their first preference and did not include a second preference on their ballot. Three candidates had more votes in the first round than these non-transferable votes. This information is included in the count sheet that was released with the election results.”

The full list of FAQs can be found here.