Right, there has been lots of stuff reported here, by Felix and by STOIC. Let?s start by clearing up a few myths, shall we?
- - MYTH 1: I am holding up the count.
This is complete rubbish. As has been reported elections committee was bogged down with complaints and appeals. The candidates meeting, originally scheduled for 7pm last night did not happen until 11pm. By that time Elections Committee had ALREADY DECIDED NOT TO COUNT the votes that night. They felt they were too tired and would not be able to do it justice. The count would take place at the earliest practical time (i.e. when the four volunteers are free), which currently looks like being next Wednesday :-(
Furthermore, the count cannot take place without an impartial scrutineer, appointed by the College, to oversee the proceedings. This is in order for the College?s Governing Body to comply with its responsibilities to ensure sabbatical elections are fairly run, in accordance with the 1994 Education Act. I?ve no idea if Mr Ganesh (current President and Returning Officer) has, as yet, asked College to appoint a scrutineer ? but there certainly wasn?t anyone there last night.
So, in short, it didn?t matter whether I had signed something or not. The count wasn?t going to happen anyway. And I have not delayed it.
- - MYTH 2: Elections Committee was bogged down by my complaints
The elections committee considered only ONE 'complaint' made by myself last night. When I went in to see them, I made it clear that it was not intended to in any way hold up or contest the result. I was complaining about the conduct of the Returning Officer, and I wanted Elections Committee to carefully consider the various issues raised and include something appropriate in their report. We had a friendly chat and the whole thing took FIVE MINUTES. That's hardly bogging anyone down!
The other complaints (the ones that took time to deal with) were made by other candidates.
- - MYTH 3: I want the election re-run
Rubbish. I have made it clear that I shall not be contesting the outcome of the election and that I want to see the results as much as anyone. For crying out loud, i'm a final year student, like several other candidates. We need to know our immediate future so that we can deal with job offers, etc!
- - MYTH 4: I have refused to sign a declaration that the count can go ahead
Again, not true. Last night we were asked to sign two declarations. The first declaration was that, should I be elected, I would agree to sign a contract and take up the post. I signed this declaration without hesitation.
The second declaration required me to state that the elections were run fairly and properly and that I would not be contesting the outcome. I was not happy with signing this. The reason being that I do not believe they were run properly (more on this later?). I was not going to sign a statement that I did not agree with. It?s not just a matter of principle, it?s about credibility. If I am elected President, do you want me to lie just to make my life easier?
After careful consideration I offered to sign a declaration with a different form of words. I would not acknowledge that the elections were run properly but would, nevertheless, state my intention not to contest the outcome. This is all that is required under the election regulations. Mr Ganesh indicated that he would be happy with this but that we would have to negotiate a precise form of words that both I and Elections Committee were happy with to meet the constitutional requirements. This was 11:30pm. As it had already been decided not to count the votes last night, Mr Ganesh suggested that we sort the wording out today. Unfortunately, I haven?t been able to get hold of him today as he?s still in bed. So, basically I want to sign something, but can?t.
- - The elections were a complete farce
This is, frankly, the worst sabbatical elections I have ever seen in Imperial College Union. The Returning Officer had complete disregard for the elections committee (they are supposed to oversee all the election arrangements but only met for the first time after the end of the first day?s voting!) Had Mr Ganesh shown some leadership, rather than dithering, then this would never have turned into the mess it became.
In particular, I have to say that I am extremely angry that one of my ?rival? Presidential candidates, Ameet Bhakta, was disqualified. While I believe his offences were serious and that Elections Committee?s decision to dismiss him was fair, it was unnecessary. If Mr Ganesh had actually dealt with complaints made during the middle of last week instead of waiting around then there could have been a much more constructive solution. By leaving it so late, Elections Committee was left with no choice but to disqualify him.
- - David Francis
Last night, STOIC asked me whether I thought David Francis would have done a better job. I declined to comment at the time. On reflection, they had a point. While Mr Francis is someone with whom I had a well-publicised personality clash, I do have a lot of respect for him. He virtually always acted in what he believed to be the best interests of students (even if we sometimes violently disagreed with what those interests were). And despite all the complaints about the elections he ran last year, people forget that he secured one of the better turnouts in recent years. Those legitimate complaints from last year were blown out of all proportion.
So yes, I?d have much more confidence in David Francis running an election. We might disagree on detail but at the end of the day, he?s not only dedicated, he also has this thing in his back with bones in called ?a spine?.