Members of Vanbrugh College were unable to vote for three days in their JCRC by-elections that took place last week.
Over the weekend and the Monday of the elections, students couldn’t cast their vote on the Vanbrugh candidates after the system on the YUSU website crashed. Although voting reopened on the Tuesday, voting closed at midday, leaving any indecisive students to vote during the busy mid- week.
Kallum Taylor, Chair of Vanbrugh JCRC, put the problem down to a “technical hitch” on the YUSU website and does not think that the suspension of voting would have made a difference. He added: “The bulk of votes occur in the first 48 hours anyway.”
Voting in the by-election opened at 12pm on Tuesday 26th January and was meant to be open for a week. However for two nights Vanbrugh students were unable to vote.
Anna Lewis, a first-year student in Vanbrugh College, articulated her annoyance that voting had been suspended because, she “hadn’t really had time to vote during the week” but when she sat down on Sunday morning she was “frustrated” to find she couldn’t cast her vote.
“When it concerns voting other options should be offered or the voting time extended”
First Year Philosophy Student
Another first-year, studying Maths and Philosophy, described his disappointment with the problem on the website, stating that: “The site shutting down meant I couldn’t cast my vote. [Therefore] I do not think the election of the new members of the JCR was very democratic.”
However, Taylor expressed his frustration with the indication that many students were now saying they would have voted but actually are just “jumping on the bandwagon” as many “wouldn’t have voted anyway.”
He stated that many of these elections were uncontested and suggested that due to this the suspension of voting wouldn’t have made a huge difference.
But Josh Robson, a first-year Philosophy student was concerned with the decreased time available to vote, commenting: “I understand that things can go wrong, but when it concerns voting other options should be offered or the voting time extended.”
Despite Tim Negwena, YUSU President, telling Kallum Taylor that, “if a disruption has been caused to let him know” Taylor has not found this necessary..
When asked about how the disruption would affect the position of Music Rep, contested by Rob Jenkins and Chris West. Taylor commented that, “it was fair for both candidates as the opportunity to vote for each one was open for the same amount of time.”
Dan Walker, YUSU Democracy and Services Officer, agreed with this sentiment, stating that: “The Vanbrugh elections went down on our website a number of days after initially opening. Voting for all positions temporarily closed.
“As soon as the JCRC realised there was an issue I was contacted and the problem was instantly resolved. All voting closed and re-opened at the same time [therefore] it will not have skewed the vote.”
In addition to this, Laura Trewick, the Vanbrugh Vice-Chair, reported that the JCRC are co-electing their LGBT member, a role that has substantial influence in the Welfare support system for the College.
Some students have questioned this approach with one Vanbrugh student saying: “If they’re going to have elections then they should have elections, and they should be consistent in the way they do it.”
All of the Vanbrugh JCRC positions were uncontested apart from that of Music Representative.
Colleges have had by-elections in the last few weeks to fill those positions not taken in the JCRC elections last term. Nouse reported last month on the considerable number of JCRC posts that remained empty after the initial elections.