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Breakdown of election results

Thank you to all students who voted across all seven of our elections, and to all candidates who campaigned. Below is a breakdown of the results. Students may have questions about why votes cast for the RON option were removed when the candidate was withdrawn, due to pro-RON campaigners breaking the election rules.

Officers

President:

Seun Twins: 1199 votes

Pranjul Khatri: 385 votes

Undergraduate Academic Officer:

Nailah Haque: 854 votes

Declan Merrington: 429 votes

Bran Blackshaw: 344 votes

Postgraduate Academic Officer:

Sarah McAllister: 1041 votes

Ludovico Rella: 599 votes

Opportunities Officer:

Anna Marshall: 1709 votes

Welfare and Liberation Officer:

Ewan Swift: 1299 votes

Amelia McLoughlan: 557 votes

Trustees:

Trustee Term 1:

Ensharah Sodha: 947

Gregory Pandise: 409

Trustee Term 2:

Max Kirk: 806

Kamil Hepak: 757

Yash Raju: 516

Re-open nominations (RON) [+]

We are keen to respond to students who requested further clarification regarding the news that any vote which had ‘Re-open Nominations’ as its first place was entirely dis-counted. During the election a complaint was made. Due to the nature of the complaint and its impact upon the election, action needed to be taken to ensure that the rights of other candidates, and the thousands of voters who wanted to see candidates elected whose campaigns kept within the rules, were taken into account.

The disqualification of RON was unprecedented as a decision, but was the right decision as the rule breach meant the campaign was unfair to voters and other candidates. Further information on the complaint can be found here.

The decision was reviewed by the external Returning Officer, Peter Robertson, the Acting Chief Executive of NUS, on the request of the Deputy Returning Officer due to the implications of the complaint and action.

Aren’t you just hiding the significance of the RON result by removing RON’s votes? [+]

58% of first preferences across the officer elections were for RON - so while the rule breach which unfairly advantaged RON cannot be overlooked, we cannot and do not underestimate the level of student support for the campaign.

However, RON broke the rules, a complaint was made and RON was removed as a candidate from the election, a decision reviewed and upheld by the external Returning Officer. As such, RON’s votes do not contribute to the count, or to the final result. The system used in the Durham SU elections does not allow RON’s votes to be transferred, so after confirming the inability of the platform to support transferring RON’s votes, the next best decision was to remove those votes entirely. This ensured that the complaint outcome was enacted and that the votes of people who voted for other candidates could be respected. Our planned Durham SU website improvement project includes ensuring we can use it’s voting platform and voting app, which would mean this would not be an issue in any future election.

The usual practice when withdrawing a candidate is to transfer any votes which have a second preference. The software does not allow transfer of first preference votes for RON but the decision to remove the candidate still needed to be implemented. The votes were therefore removed and not transferred.

However necessary it was to ensure that the complaint against the RON campaign was upheld, and the candidate was withdrawn, it is clear that many students will be upset that the software did not allow their votes to be transferred. Durham SU is very sorry that this was the only way to effectively withdraw RON. The evaluation of the elections will consider the requirements we have of our voting software in the future.

The significance of the RON campaign for Durham SU can’t be overstated - it will set our agenda for the foreseeable future. But that doesn’t mean that a formal complaint and breach of the rules can be ignored in favour of a candidate. We ask students to recognise the responsibility of the Returning Officer to return a fair election in this decision.

Why can’t we see these results on de-vote? [+]

As mentioned above, the candidate Re-Open Nominations had to be removed from each election due to a breach of the election rules by the campaign for Re-open Nominations. These votes are therefore not part of the declared voting statistics.

The delay in releasing the voter numbers was due to a hold up within the University’s CIS team, who understandably have other priorities at the present time. We are therefore unable to publish the results on the Devote platform at this time, but still hope to be able to make those available to students in the future.

What can I do if I’m not happy? [+]

Be part of the conversation, or suggest a different way of having it

We hope students will want to engage constructively in conversation, argument and discussion to help us move forward - because it’s our intention to do so. You can do this:

  • by attending open meetings like the one held in March
  • by sharing ideas here
  • by taking part in the suite of listening exercises we will be undertaking in the wake of this election around reviewing our democracy, understanding Common Room priorities and developing and resourcing support for other student volunteers, to name a few
  • by sharing ideas and solutions in student media or with our Student Officers

Protest or campaign

Protest actions are more difficult given the current COVID-19 measures.

However we know some of you might not think our ways of listening will work, or you feel you need to get a message to more students. Durham has lots of great campaigners who are very innovative. Our campaign toolkit collates resources from a broad range of grassroots campaigning organisations, and may be a useful resource to help you identify what specifically you want to change about your SU, and generate effective avenues to achieving that - especially in the current, unique environment. Our ask, and our expectation of all campaigners, always, is that you campaign in a way you are proud of. Falsifying information or deliberately seeking to mislead, bullying or harassing, or acting with the specific goal not of changing a situation but of bringing down a person, is something that nobody should be the victim of.

Make a complaint

If you want to submit a complaint about matters concerning Durham Students’ Union, please follow our complaints procedure, available here.