Democracy Committee Minutes - Lent Elections 2021

Democracy Committee minutes – Lent elections Period 2021

26/02/21

Present – Torkel Loman, Ben Margolis, Richard Danylyuk

Matt Kite in attendance

  1. The Committee reviewed the timetable and plan for hustings.
  2. The Committee selected questions from those presubmitted that would be asked to candidates, and wrote questions that were sufficiently general to ask to all candidates where not enough had been submitted.

01/03/2021

Present – Torkel Loman, Ben Margolis, Richard Danylyuk, Josh Jones

Matt Kite in attendance

  1. The Committee received updates:
    1. There had been a minor issue with the voting platform where voters indicating that they were a mature student were receiving an error. This had been resolved.
  2. Hustings
    1. The hustings video would be uploaded soon.
  3. Withdrawal of Liam Webb
    1. The committee were informed that a candidate for Pres (PG) had withdrawn.
  4. A concern had been raised with the Committee about the potential sharing of resources between candidates.
    1. It was agreed that this would represent a breach of the rules if it was taking place, so a reminder would be sent to all about the rules on slates.
  5. A complaint had been received about an MCR posting in support of a candidate.
    1. It was agreed that this was against the rules and that the Returning Officer would contact the MCR in questions and ask for the post to be deleted, and contact the candidate to remind them of their responsibility to ensure that those campaigning on their behalf were following the rules.
  6. Turnout prizes and monitoring
    1. The Committee noted that there would be a prize for the highest turnout by college for undergraduates and postgraduates.
    2. Data about postgraduate and undergraduate turnout was being collected in order to monitor engagement with the elections.

02/03/21

Present – Torkel Loman, Ben Margolis, Richard Danylyuk, Josh Jones

Matt Kite in attendance

  1. The Committee received updates:
    1. Turnout was so far lower than in previous years.
    2. The SU had implemented a voting user experience feedback form, and was now getting information, with some fixes to the interface made already and others in the pipeline.
    3. Hustings video was now available online
    4. Questions about elections had been raised on SU Council
      1. There was a concern that candidate images could lead to unconscious bias and the Returning Officer had committed to reviewing this after the elections.
      2. There was a concern about why UG students could vote for PG candidates. The Returning Officer had explained the context for the decision and that the law required that major union offices be elected in a ballot of all students. He had committed to the issue of how to represent postgraduates and include them in elections better constantly under review.
  2. Slogans
    1. The Committee discussed candidates being able to add material to the website after the deadline for manifestos had past, and that this created the possibility of some candidates adding materials to their candidate profile that were reactive to other candidates.
    2. It was agreed that this was within the rules and the actions permitted by candidates. but the Committee noted the concern and that this was not within the intention of the rules so it would be reviewed for future elections.
  3. The Committee began planning for the results announcement.

04/03/21

Present – Torkel Loman, Ben Margolis, Josh Jones

Matt Kite in attendance

  1. The Committee received updates:
    1. Turnout so far in the election was still down on previous years but with a strong final day surge, in part due to the introduction of new incentive schemes for voting for J/MCRs and societies, as well as smaller prizes for sabbatical officers and campaigns for promoting the election.
  2. The Committee reviewed receipts submitted for candidate spending.
    1. Spending was reduced this year due to the online election, and no concerns were raised.
  3. The Committee considered a query from the sabbatical president of the Homerton Union of Students, who had asked about his status as the member of the SU.
    1. It was concluded that as he was not recognised as a student by the University he did not fall within the definition of Student Member of the SU as defined in the Articles, and so it was correct that he was unable to vote.
    2. The case of the status of a sabbatical officer of another students’ union in Cambridge had not been considered as part of the drafting process of the Cambridge SU governing documents and the Committee agreed that they would be willing to review what the appropriate status should be in future.
  4. The Committee reviewed plans for meeting to consider any appeals submitted after the close of voting and the results announcement.