first_imgThe OUSU elections suffered another embarrassing setback this week when personalised voting codes arrived almost a day late.Thousands of students were left unable to cast their ballots after the window for voting began on Tuesday, leading to fears that the result of the election might have been affected.It is thought that the problem stemmed from a delay in the mail delivery system, due to a time-lag in sending out vast numbers of personalised emails.On Monday night, election organisers used mail merge to send out 19,000 individual voting codes in personalised emails.However, by midnight on Tuesday, most students still hadn’t received their code. At 9.39 on Tuesday morning, Returning Officer (RO) Madaline Stanley sent emails to JCR and MCR presidents asking them to inform their Common Rooms that the emails containing their voter codes had been delayed and that they should email the RO if their codes had still not been received by 1pm.However, by 1pm, the vast number of students had still not received their codes. It was only through an email dated 02.46 on Wednesday morning that the vast majority of students gained access to the code that would enable them to cast a vote.One student criticised the lack of foresight on the part of the election’s organisers:“This seems to typify the incompetence that most students associate with OUSU.“I think it reflects really badly on OUSU and it’s hard to believe that there had been so little planning and organisation.“I just hope that this doesn’t have a negative effect on the outcome of the elections”. This has been the second major set-back in the run-up to the elections. The election was due to take place last week, but had to be delayed after OUSU newspaper, Oxford Student, failed to print the manifesto of the presidentialcandidate, John Maher, in the Joint Manifesto Booklet (JMB).In an email sent out on Wednesday to apologise for and explain the delay, Stanley stated that the voter codes had been delayed by a “technical error with the mail server” and that “at the present time it seems that some of the messages remain trapped somewhere in the ether”.She stated that members of OUSU’s Elections Committees had spent “all day (and most of the night)” attempting to ensure students received the voting codes in time to vote before the polls closed at 6pm on Thursday.Organisers were forced to resend the codes again using an alternative mail server, meaning that some students received their codes twice. An explanation has not been offered as to why this server was not used in the first place.Stanley explained, “we think it’s better for people to get a couple of emails rather than run the risk of not receiving the original message in time to vote.Your voter codes will not have changed, so there’s no risk of multiple voting.” Stanley apologised for the inconvenience, but stated that it was “perhaps inevitable that we’d experience some problems” as this is the first year that elections have been run online.She claimed that they had attempting to check that the system would work by running a number of test elections but argued that “there was no practical way of simulating an event on this scale”.The extended polling period of three days, rather than one day, was apparently to ensure that time was built in to allow organisers to fix any problems that might arise.Stanley pledged to review the process after the election and ensure that such “trouble spots” do not occur again.The same email also defended RO Madeline Stanley and the OUSU Elections Committee and stated that the “problem at the heart of the delay was a purely technical one that could not have been foreseen or prevented by any single person”.It warned that “ad hominam attacks” on Stanley are “unwarrented [sic] and unfair” and might “constitute harassment under the Proctor’s guidelines.”At the time, the Returning Officer said that “the OUSU elections committee will be spending the extra week to… fine tune the voting system.”last_img

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