Peter McLaughlin will now join four other Cambridge delegates in attending the NUS National Conference in MarchLouis Ashworth

CUSU’s election committee have today overturned their decision on the NUS election results, and appointed Peter McLaughlin as NUS delegate, after finding they had misapplied voting rules.

The NUS election results announced on Monday sparked controversy, when McLaughlin, the candidate with the most first preference votes, ended up being eliminated as a candidate. The election committee then defended and initially did not release further information about its decision.

The surprise move comes after McLaughlin appealed the decision, and the election committee discovered it did not properly follow the Electoral Reform Society’s (ERS) rules for Single Transferable Voting (STV), as CUSU usually rely on software which automatically follows these rules.

But upon closer examination of the ERS rules and consulting the NUS, the committee discovered the candidate with the most first preference votes who surpassed the quota should have been elected immediately.

After this, and in compliance with NUS rules mandating a gender-balanced delegation, if that candidate was male, a second count should have been run excluding male candidates, with female candidates only.


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This put McLaughlin comfortably in the lead with 124 first preference votes in the first round - and eliminates both Howard Chae and Zachary Marsh, the other male candidates, before the second round of female-only candidates.

Chae’s and Marsh’s votes were subsequently redistributed among the female candidates in line with STV rules, electing Stella Swain, Sally Patterson - and in theory Re-open Nominations - as the delegates.

In a statement released on their website, the election committee said they “apologise unreservedly” for the mistake, and pledge to “ensure that the full ERS97 count rules will be included in all… in future elections as a result of this.”

“We would also like to apologise to Peter McLaughlin, Howard Chae and to the student voters for the original uncertainty around these results and the lack of clear communication about this process,” they added.

The committee emphasised the minutes of meetings where these decisions were made are now available online, and emphasised that though this incident has highlighted “significant issues” with how the committee communicates its decisions, they “will be meeting later this term to discuss how to tackle these issues going forward.”

Varsity has reached out to Peter McLaughlin for comment.

Editor’s Note: NUS delegate candidate Howard Chae is a member of the Varsity news team. He played no role in the writing or editing of this article.

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