In a dramatic desertion from precedent, ANUSA has decided against releasing the complete election results in what some are arguing is an attempted cover up. It was revealed to Woroni that some candidates are pressuring the association to not release the complete results in order to avoid embarrassment. The results, which have historically been made available on the Monday following the election, were mysteriously absent with no explanation.
In response to the enquiry, ANUSA revealed that certain results have not been published on their website because some candidates requested that they not be made public. Lachlan Day, current President of ANUSA, stated that, while candidates requesting their races be withheld is not unheard of, the number of requests received this year was unprecedented. As a result, Day said, candidates would be asked to re-confirm their intention to withdraw results and would be required to provide a reason.
2020 General Secretary Taylor Heslington stated that while individual students are allowed to book an appointment, either in person or over Zoom, to view the results from individual races, wider distribution of those results would not be permitted. As of the 2nd of September, the full results of only 2 executive races have been revealed, with President, Vice President and General Secretary notably absent. Similarly, the results from the General Representatives race as well as both the CBE and CASS representatives races remain publicly unavailable. This is typically uncommon, though in 2019 the results for CASS Representative were not disclosed based on candidate requests.
When queried, Presidential candidate Ben Wicks stated that, while he had alerted all candidates to the process, he had not personally requested his results be withheld. The window to apply for results to be withheld came after the outcome of the election, so candidates after knowing if they were successful or not could choose to request results not be published. Wicks went on to comment that he ‘understood and respected the decision of any candidate to do so’, noting the decision is often made for ‘[the candidates] own mental health and wellbeing’.
James Eveille, leader of the ‘Refocus Your ANUSA’ ticket expressed his disappointment at the decision to withhold some results, commenting that ‘students deserve the right to know how candidates have won’. James went on to say the policy which allows candidates to request results be withheld is ‘frankly ill thought out’, arguing that candidates contesting election in the public arena ‘should be eligible for scrutiny by all undergraduate students’. This notion was echoed by ‘Go the Distance’ candidate Skanda Panditharatne, echoing his frustration at the lack of availability of full results. He went on to state his intention to bring the matter to the upcoming ANUSA OGM to institute electoral reform to a system which “principally relies on good faith by candidates and genuinely extenuating circumstances to justify redaction”.
Madhumitha Janagaraja, President elect and leader of the ‘Brighter Together’ ticket commented that while it was understandable that some candidates wanted their privacy protected it shouldn’t “come at the cost of overall transparency for the association and it’s elections”. She went on to state that many candidates had contacted her about viewing the results privately and she expects this will continue in the next few years.
General Representative elect, Max Evans, called the decision ‘very undemocratic’ and highlighted the unnecessary complexity of requesting withheld results. Evans went on to say that while he said he sympathised with anyone who has mental health concerns, that they should not change the right of students to “ensure the election was free and fair”.
An email was released this morning (02/09) requesting all candidates in the 2021 ANUSA elections reconfirm their intention to withhold results. Despite this however, concerns have been raised as to why one candidate has the ability to obscure the results of an entire election, not just their own. It is unclear as to whether or not this is simply a case of sensitivity or part of a more concerted effort to disrupt the trust and security of ANUSA elections.