Candidates’ fury as SU’s March elections omit some manifestos

University of Lincoln Students' Union building

The SU hold course rep, activities, and bye-elections every March – but this year the elections system has been heavily scrutinised by a number of candidates (Photo: Gregor Smith)

This week has seen sports and societies within the Students’ Union elect their committees for the next academic year, as well as elections for many course reps – yet some candidates have been left frustrated after their pictures and manifestos failed to appear on the SU website.

The issue was raised at last night’s Societies’ Committee, bringing some activity members who had missed out on opportunities close to tears.

“My nomination didn’t go through at all, and I’ve lost my position in the society,” one complained.

“It’s really annoying because we built this society from scratch.”

According to the SU, problems were due to “an error that the candidate has unfortunately made”.

It represented a failure of the “candidates’ reponsibility” to follow the instructions on their website, where candidates had to save each section separately before clicking the ‘Submit’ button for the full application.

However, some affected by the issue have argued that the instructions did not make that clear, as they told candidates to “complete all sections individually”, rather than save them individually.

SU election nominations form

This was how the nomination form and instructions looked for candidates as of 23 March

Yet a spokesperson for the University of Lincoln Students’ Union told The Linc they had actually attempted to make things clearer.

“The nomination page for this year’s main elections was improved from last year to make the instructions clearer. This was refined following student feedback for the activity election,” they stated.

Manifestos could not be put in after the elections went live, over fears it would then become unfair, as some candidates would have had the chance to see their opposition’s policies.

The issue was taken to the National Union of Students, the returning officer for Lincoln SU elections, who said they were “happy that candidates had the opportunity to submit a manifesto” and let the elections continue as planned.

The SU then encouraged those affected by the problem to “share their manifesto, posting it on Facebook or elsewhere” – yet some thought there were even more problems with this policy.

One member of Societies Committee noted: “They’ve argued that people now can’t upload manifestos because they’ll have seen other people’s, but [the SU] are now telling people to upload manifestos on social media, even though they’ve seen all the other manifestos anyway.”

The SU’s spokesman replied: “For any candidates who did not save before they submitted and have been in contact with the elections email, we have been investigating on a case by case basis and working together to help them.”

Others at the Societies Committee pointed out different problems with the system. “Members of our society said that the mobile platform for nominations didn’t have the ‘Save’ button, and so they couldn’t submit pictures and manifestos,” one claimed.

Students’ Union President, Brian Alcorn, apologised to members at Societies Committee, saying: “I’m sorry that there is frustration and that the system hasn’t been accessible to all candidates.

“We are continually improving and taking all your feedback on board.”

In reply to The Linc, their spokesman continued: “There is always room to continue to improve. Through our election review and feedback over the past few days, we will be looking to develop the online election system to change the default when people submit to save any current work and submit.

“We will also investigate the potential to either allow candidates to preview their nomination or add more information to the receipt of submission.

“We have in the past looked for ways of developing the photo uploading system however similar to the university registration for new students we are still looking to find a suitable solution.”

However, they were also keen to point out that the problem had affected a minority of candidates, and that the March elections were set to be a success.

“On Friday, 70.91% of all Activity positions will be filled, this is up on 67% last year, and we will be working with clubs and societies to fill the remaining places in April,” they promised.

“In the course rep elections we have had 226 online nominations for schools that have chosen to have elections online this week. This is up on last year despite more schools choosing to elect their course reps for next year offline.

“We also have more Student Council positions than ever before and at the end of this bye-election all the positions will be filled for Abbey Ward Community Rep and Activity positions that are always elected in October. We see the increased number of nominations across all our elections, including February, as a positive step.”

Have you been affected by these elections issues? Did you vote differently because some candidates didn’t have manifestos on the SU website? Is your society developing its own solution to the elections problem? Get in touch: gregor.smith@thelinc.co.uk

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