Cheat! Union candidate David Browne admits plans to break election rules

David Browne caught on tape admitting plans to break election rules

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Standing Committe candidate David Browne has admitted he plans to cheat in this Friday’s Oxford Union election.

In a sound recording passed to The Tab, the Merton second year is heard telling how he plans to flout the Union’s 11 page Electoral Malpractice dossier, breaking key rules on campaigning (names and voices have been distorted to protect the identities of those involved.)

The Oxford Union is well known for how vicious its termly elections can be

In a series of 10 second clips, Browne:

• Claims he has a special relationship with the Returning Officer.
• Confesses to running a slate to get friends elected.
• Brags about  stationing allies in college lodges to canvass for him.

The law student also claims “the rules give me special privileges that most candidates won’t have” due to his friendship with  the Returning Officer, of Pembroke College.

David pledges to hold an Irish Whiskey Night if elected.

David pledges to hold an Irish Whiskey Night if elected.

He brags about a team of candidates who will be helping him out, either by asking others to vote for him personally, or because they will be “parked in [their college’s] Lodge” to “tell every student in your college to vote for yourself and David Browne.

In another incident, Browne was also recorded explaining that “I am running a slate” (a team of candidates all helping each other), and also answered “Yes” to the direct question:” You are trying to line… aren’t you?” – a process where candidates ask for people voting for them to also vote for others running for positions.

The Returning Officer of the Union commented saying “Every candidate is treated completely equally, to ensure an election based on the meritocratic principles.  Despite the claims of this candidate I would never allow my personal opinions to affect the way I acted as Returning Officer or the running of the election generally.

“If anybody thinks anyone has broken any rules, they are encouraged to issue a formal complaint before the close of Poll or a written allegation of electoral malpractice within 48 hours after the close of Poll. The Union does not tolerate rules breaking by anyone, and candidates should remember that they are never above the rules. ”

A Union tribunal

In a statement, David Browne told The Tab: “The comments made in the recording were not meant in any serious capacity. I was merely having jokes  that were not meant to be taken on face value.

“In particular I must refute any idea that I or the Returning Officer plan to abuse the process of the election. Taking such a comment out of context and publishing it in this way is a grave disservice to a Returning Officer that has worked very hard to run the election and will no doubt perform her duties in the utmost good faith.”

David making comments in an extremely serious capacity.

David making comments in an extremely serious capacity.

A Union insider however, told The Tab that “This sort of underhanded stuff is not even uncommon, which is itself a shame. I hope that we can finally move past this stage, and hold proper open elections without all this stupid hacking nonsense.”