Graduate Union News

GU Presidential Election: 14th-17th May 2007

Posted by .

Leo Shidai Liu Elected President

GU Council has accepted the Junior Proctor’s finding in response to a complaint about the GU Presidential Election, and implemented his proposed remedy in full. Leo Shidai Liu was thereby recognised as the winner of the election. Having accepted the presidency, Leo Shidai Liu is the GU President 2007-8.

Introduction

The 2007 GU Presidential Election was held on 14th–17th May. Two posts were available for election: the GU President and the General Secretary. These are two of the three major offices of the GU.

The GU President is a sabbatical role, representing the GU and with responsibility for running its facilities, services and campaigns. The elected President will assume the role in July, with a term of office of one calendar year, and chairs meetings of all the GU’s governing bodies: the Board, Executive and Council.

The General Secretary chairs the Communications Committee, and coordinates the administration, publicity, and communications of the union. This includes responsibility for online and print publications, including the annual GU handbook. The term of office for the elected General Secretary will be until after the GU’s Annual Election, in the fifth week of Michaelmas Term 2007.

Results

General Secretary

One valid nomination was received before the deadline of 27th April in the By-Election for General Secretary:

Simon Ford
Simon Ford’s manifesto

Simon Ford was therefore elected and assumed the position of General Secretary with immediate effect.

President

Three nominations were received for GU President after the deadline was extended to 4th May. The candidates were:

Leo Shidai Liu
Leo’s Manifesto
Geum Young Min
Min’s Manifesto
Claire Norman
Claire’s Manifesto

You may also download a compiled version of the candidates’ manifestos as a PDF.

Voting was held from 14th to 17th May. 1007 votes were cast electronically, of which 1002 contained a valid first preference. An additional 7 valid votes were cast in the paper ballot. Turnout exceeded 10%. Votes were counted in accordance with the university’s STV regulations: for more information, see the full voting details.

The disqualification of one candidate occurred following the recommendation of a committee convened by the Returning Officers. This committee’s report has been published as an appendix to the Returning Officer’s report. This decision was the subject of an complaint to the Junior Proctor from the disqualified candidate.

In addition to information about the investigation of campaigning irregularities, the Returning Officer’s report includes full details of the ballot, count and prize draw, an analysis of turnout by college and recommendations for the conduct of future elections.

Complaint and Junior Proctor’s Investigation

Complaint

A complaint about the disqualification of Leo Shidai Liu was filed with the Junior Proctor, under §23 of the GU Constitution and the university’s Ordinances (Chapter 2, pp. 190-191). This was registered with the Junior Proctor, and sent to the GU President on 29th May. The Graduate Union has cooperated fully with the Junior Proctor’s investigation.

The text of the complaint and the following correspondence is available in three parts, approximately in chronological order:

Provisional Findings

On Friday 8 June 2007, the Junior Proctor upheld the complaint and indicated his intention to deliver his report and proposed remedies verbally and in writing on Monday 11 June 2007.

In upholding the complaint, the Junior Proctor found that “there is sufficient doubt about the nature of supposed campaigning irregularities, as well as about the Returning Officer’s procedures and decisions in the case, to render her disqualification of Mr Leo Shidai Liu unsafe”. With respect to the disqualified candidate and complainant, two alternative remedies were provisionally proposed: (a) to hold a new election, or (b) to reinstate the candidate and declare him elected. The full text of this statement is available as a PDF:

Representations

The Junior Proctor’s findings and proposals above were provisional, and representations were invited by the Junior Proctor, with a deadline of noon on Wednesday 13 June 2007. The GU President submitted her representation on Wednesday 13 June, and is awaiting a reply from the Junior Proctor. Her observations, and a selection of other representations from those involved in the administration of the election, are available below. (If you submitted observations and would like them published in the interests of balance, please contact us and we will consider making them available here.)

Further Consultation

On 18th June 2007, the Junior Proctor issued further comments for consideration at an Emergency Meeting of GU Council, inviting the recommendations of Council on the remedies he should propose. In pursuance of the Junior Proctor’s request to ensure that this was distributed to members of GU Council, his memorandum and its appendix are available online:

The Junior Proctor attended the Council meeting, explaining and answering questions on his provisional ruling and the new memorandum, and requested the guidance of GU Council on remedies it would find appropriate, having been persuaded (by representations) of the difficulties associated with his provisional proposals. After his departure, GU Council discussed and voted on a set of remedies to be proposed to the Junior Proctor. The remedies recommended by GU Council were summarised in a letter to the Junior Proctor:

Final Ruling

On Tuesday 26th June, the Junior Proctor published his final ruling:

The Junior Proctor upheld the complaint against the disqualification of Leo Shidai Liu, finding that disqualification unsafe and proposing as remedy that the candidate be reinstated.

Discussion and Implementation of the Remedy

Discussion by the GU Council

The Junior Proctor’s final ruling was discussed at two emergency meetings of the GU Council:

Council maintained its support of the Returning Officer’s report, and in particular the decision that a violation of the campaigning rules had occurred. The Junior Proctor did not dispute that at least one violation occurred, as confirmed in his discussion with the Council in the meeting of 10 July. The Council noted, however, that the disqualification had been found procedurally unsafe, and recognised that improvements in the election procedures were required. In addition, University Ordinances express the expectation that a remedy from the Junior Proctor would be implemented without delay.

In the meeting of 10 July, the Council decided to accept the Junior Proctor’s report and to implement his proposed remedy (that Leo Shidai Liu be recognised as the election winner). It also resolved to compensate the previously announced election winner, Claire Norman, and thanked her for her work for the Union since 1 July. These actions were conditional upon receiving an undertaking from the candidates that they would not pursue legal action against the Union. Council also voted unanimously to establish Election and Electoral Reform Committees to work towards improved electoral procedures.

Election Result

Following the reversal of Leo Shidai Liu’s disqualification, he was offered the GU Presidency (subject to the conditions imposed by the Council). This offer was accepted, and Mr Liu therefore became GU President 2007-8.

Procedural Reform

Proposals for the establishment of an Electoral Reform Committee and an Election Committee were considered by the Council on 10 July, in the form of proposed amendments to Schedule A (the appendix to the Constitution defining committees):

These proposals received unanimous support and, subject to ratification at a later meeting of the Council, will be enacted. The Electoral Reform Committee will then be convened to consider changes to electoral procedures and the campaigning rules following the complaints described above. It is intended that some changes be implemented before the Annual Elections of members of the GU Board in November 2007.

Prize Draw

Every voter was offered the opportunity to enter a free prize draw. All voters opting to do so received Cambridge Blue Café vouchers and half-price entry to Club 22, and were entered into a draw with the chance to win the following prizes:

  • A case of champagne for May Week
  • Restaurant vouchers
  • Wine tasting tickets
  • Hard-bound thesis binding
  • USB flash drives

The draw has now been performed and the winners notified. Full prize draw details are available, including the methodology, prizes and their winners.

Election Timetable and Information

The election ran according to the following timetable:

Monday 2nd April Nominations open
Friday 27th April Nominations for General Secretary closed at 17:00
Nominations re-opened for President
Friday 4th May Nominations for President closed at 17:00
Monday 7th May Campaigning began at 12:00
Monday 14th May Online voting opened
Thursday 17th May Online voting closed at 18:00
Paper voting in the GU, 18:00–20:00
Friday 18th May Results announced at 17:07

The Returning Officer for this election was Beth Bowers, the GU President; the Deputy Returning Officer was Kim Jensen, the International Officer.

Further details