Ropek Hewson, right, was announced as winner after Joe Cotton, left, was disqualifiedLouis Ashworth

Sofia Ropek Hewson has been confirmed as the next president of the Graduate Union (GU), defeating opponents Joe Cotton and Mrittunjoy Guha Majumdar.

The outcome follows an election saga that saw Cotton disqualified despite winning the popular vote, after violating Elections Committee (EC) rules in his use of an iPad to facilitate voting.

Ropek Hewson was declared the provisional winner over a fortnight ago, when EC said Cotton had been disqualified.

Cotton broke campaigning restrictions by carrying around an iPad which he said was used “to facilitate mobile voting and enable a larger turnout.” EC ruled that Cotton had failed to stand adequately far away from voters as they used the iPad, and disqualified him. Cotton appealed its judgement, and the case was subsequently escalated to the junior proctor as a result.


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Proctors called in after Elections Committee rejects Graduate Union disqualification appeal

In a statement, EC said “The Junior Proctor has upheld our decision to disqualify Joe Cotton in this election.”

“The Elections Committee would like to announce that Sofia Ropek Hewson is duly confirmed as the President of the Graduate Union,” it said. “Our congratulations to Sofia and we wish her the best of luck in the year ahead.” It went on to congratulate Ropek Hewson’s opponents, “who both displayed passion and commitment to the GU.”

CUSU Elections 2018 Proctors called in after Elections Committee rejects Graduate Union disqualification appeal

Ropek Hewson will become the GU’s new president in July, replacing Darshana Joshi. In a statement to Varsity, she said: "I welcome confirmation of the election results, and can now prepare for representing and working for grads as GU president. Thanks to all my supporters, the Elections Committee, and the other two candidates. I look forward to working with the great team at the Graduate Union."

Cotton accepted the ruling in a statement on his website, saying: “I would have welcomed a more proportionate response, although I recognise and respect the outcome of my appeal”

He called for EC to re-assess its rules in the wake of the outcome and controversy.

“I sincerely hope that these events will provoke an extensive development of the election campaign guidelines, so that a similar situation does not occur in future,” he said.

In a statement to Varsity, Cotton thanked his supporters and conceded to Ropek Hewson.

“I’d like to congratulate Sofia on becoming the next President of the GU, and wish her all the best,” he said. “To my campaigners and supporters; I’m sorry that my mistake meant that we didn’t get the outcome we worked so hard for, and thank you for your incredible effort. I promise that I fought this one until the end!”

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