[Kealie Mardell | Print Editor]
This article should have been a celebratory one, announcing the winners of Hertfordshire Students’ Union 2015 Elections. However, on the night of the Elections Results Party, students were informed just 30 minutes before the event was due to start that the results had been cancelled.
In an update on their website, the Students’ Union reported: “We noticed there had been some unusual voting activity during the voting process. We are therefore unfortunately unable to announce the results of our elections until a full investigation is concluded.”
They added: “We hope to complete our investigation as quickly as possible, and we will provide you with an update on the situation next week.” They also thanked everyone who had participated in the elections.
After a week of campaigning, and months of preparation for some, many candidates were left devastated by the announcement. However, this didn’t stop candidates, staff, and students alike from heading to the EleHouse for a night of karaoke, hosted by Trident Media’s own Matt Creasey.
Gurpreet Singh, current elected President, said:
“I am absolutely gutted for the candidates as I know they put such hard work into running good campaigns in the Students’ Union Elections. I have experienced running in several elections myself and I completely understand how the candidates must feel. It is such a difficult time full of hard work, fun, emotions, tiredness; it’s all very full on.”
In the following days, students speculated about the cause of the “unusual voting activity” before it was revealed that “a small number of votes were cast by people using incorrect accounts” on the Students’ Union website.
Anyone who tried to sign into the website faced the following message and an email with instructions on how to revalidate their accounts:
“We would like to make very clear that no personal data was lost or viewable during this illegitimate access to our website and we are confident the problem has now been resolved. However, to ensure that only the right person is accessing your account, we need all students to now revalidate their accounts in order to continue using particular areas of our site.”
As it was not possible to isolate those votes which may have been compromised, it was decided to rerun the casting of votes while the investigation continues. Students who voted in the elections would be able to recast their votes from 10am Monday 16 March – Friday 20 March 3pm.
Hertfordshire Students’ Union said: “We would like to apologise for any inconvenience this process may cause you, and we would like to offer you our sincere thanks for your patience, understanding and participation in our elections process.”
Shelby Loasby, second year History and Spanish student, said: “I will be recasting my vote. What happened was unacceptable, but it’s not fair on all the other candidates who have been working hard and campaigning if no-one votes again.”
Law and Psychology student Mattey Avgustinov said: “I will also be recasting my vote as I want to support the process for better democracy at the SU, and I feel that neglecting to participate in the recast will be the same as leaving the forged votes without consequence.”
Students who voted were emailed with the details of the recasting process, which added that those who vote during the allocated timeframe will also be entered into a prize draw to win one of three cash prizes, ranging from £50 to £150.
“We will be announcing the results on 20 March 2015, and we look forward to sharing those results with you,” said Chief Executive Officer Phil Mackay. Due to the ongoing investigation, Mackay was unable to provide any further information.
“The Students’ Union are doing everything they can to rectify the situation and a full investigation is taking place to ensure that student voting is fair for all those involved, and representative of the students voting. I understand this is a frustrating time for candidates, students and staff alike, but we want to do the right thing and ensure our elections are fair and reliable. We will keep students updated with the progress of the elections and if anyone would like to contact us please do.”
If you have any questions about the elections email firstname.lastname@example.org and keep checking back for further updates and the announcement of our new Elected Officers!