Candidates in the YUSU elections have broken campaign rules but not received any punishment.
Mike Anstey, Kallum Taylor, and Jason Brandwood have all had successful complaints filed against them for rule-breaking, with Anstey violating a total of five election rules.
After complaints were made to YUSU, the candidates were asked to remove rule-breaking social media posts, but the Returning Officer in charge of elections administration chose not to impose any sanctions.
Mike Anstey, incumbent and candidate for International Students’ Officer, used the @yusu_isa Twitter account to post two separate tweets encouraging students to re-elect him and also used the ‘ISA at The University of York’ Facebook page to post a lengthy campaign message on the Graduate Student Association’s own page.
The tweets were removed but the Facebook post was still on the GSA page two days after the Returning Officer confirmed that all the offending posts had been removed.
Anstey was not punished as such for breaking the five election rules but told Nouse: “The incident with the Facebook page wasn’t done by me, but I do acknowledge that my supporters who have access to the page should have been warned before posting. All posts should have been removed as of Tuesday morning.”
According to YUSU election rules, candidates are responsible for the actions of their team campaigning on their behalf.
Anstey’s posts also broke rules 23 and 25 which concern contact lists gathered by third party sources and endorsement from YUSU networks, respectively.
Kallum Taylor, incumbent and candidate for the position of President, used the @yusu_prez Twitter account to retweet endorsements for his campaign by students.
This is a breach of election rule 12, which states that “Candidates must ensure that any method or opportunity used to create or disseminate campaign information is open and accessible to all candidates.”
Taylor also broke rule 21 as he used a “website or social media page belonging to a third party”.
As the official YUSU Twitter accounts are not accessible to all candidates, they may not be used for campaigning.
Although the offending Tweets have been removed from the account, no further sanctions are being imposed.
Taylor told Nouse, “The moment I was told that I’d retweeted from the @yusu_prez account I reversed them immediately! I don’t think it had any noted impact of the election to be honest, and it was a genuinely stupid mistake by me as both that account and the campaign account come into my phone and I’ve just got mixed up as to which one I was on. It’s sorted now, and that should really just be that.”
Jason Brandwood also had a complaint made against him when a Langwith College Facebook page featured a pinned post from his campaign.
Rule 11 says, “Candidates are responsible for the actions of anyone acting on their behalf and must ensure that they are aware of these rules and any other regulations that apply,” alongside the previously mentioned rules, was the basis of this complaint.
The post was removed, but Brandwood was not punished.
Brandwood told Nouse he was unaware of the post’s existence and that as soon as it was brought to his attention by YUSU he saw to it that it was taken down as quickly as possible.
Possible punishments for the violation of election rules include a 24-hour campaigning ban, forfeiting the refund on campaign expenses, and disqualification.
What, if any, punishment is used is at the discretion of the Returning Officer.
Despite no punishments having been given to the aforementioned candidates, Bob Hughes, YUSU Welfare Officer, urged that anything that considered rule-breaking should be reported.
He said, “From running in a couple of elections myself, if a candidate does break the elections, it feels unfair on those who work hard to stay within them. Not being the Returning Officer, I can’t comment on individual cases, but if anything is felt to give an unfair advantage to candidates, it should be reported so it can be followed up.”
This story has been updated since its initial publication