The Oxford Union’s Returning Officer has today announced that James Price has been elected as President for Hilary Term 2021, with 431 first preferences, followed by Jeremy Bararia in second place with 375 first preferences.
Price’s victory brings to a close an unprecedented presidential election for the Union, with one candidate dropping out over racially insensitive comments made by a candidate on his slate running for The Standing Committee, and the only remaining candidate losing to RON (Re-Open Nominations) after being accused of making racially charged comments towards other members of the Union’s committee.
This resulted in a Second Election for the office of President only. Mi-Voice, the external organisation employed by the Union to run the online election, was then the target of a cyber attack, resulting in over 500 illegitimate votes being cast for the same candidate from seven IP addresses mostly located overseas.
An Election Tribunal, made up of now-graduated former Officers of the Union, recommended holding a third online election. This was denied by the Union’s Standing Committee, with an anonymous member previously telling The Blue that they were “unconvinced another online poll would be secure”.
As such, the Election Tribunal and Returning Officers counted the remaining 1,062 votes determined to be casted eligibly, announcing the result earlier than the expected deadline of Thursday.
It is believed to be the first time a graduate of the University has been elected to the Presidency of the Union. Usually ‘residency requirements’ are imposed on candidates, requiring them to live within 25 miles of central Oxford, which would have disqualified Price, but these were waived due to the pandemic. Price has previously worked for the Conservative Government as a Special Advisor to the Leader of the House of Lords, and stood for them in Swansea West at the 2019 General Election, coming second to the incumbent Labour Party MP.
Beatrice Barr, President of The Oxford Union, commented:
“This is obviously an unprecedented result, to conclude an unprecedented election. I’m relieved that the Trinity Election is finally over, so we can get on with the real work.”
Jeremy Bararia commented:
“Although I was rather disappointed to hear the result, I am grateful to have come so close and to everyone who registered and voted for me during the election. I appreciate work of the RO James Matthews and the Tribunal Panel for handling the voting breach fairly and hearing out the concerns of all candidates before coming to their final recommendations. In addition, I would like to wish James Price, as well as the officers elect Tamzin and Chengkai, the best of luck during their term. I hope that their work can bring about the change that the Union is sorely in need of.”
James Price, Amy Gregg, and Joseph Mochhoury candidates have been reached for comment.