In the ANUSA General Secretary’s SRC report on the 22nd of September, ACT Elections and their involvement with the recent ANUSA elections was brought to disrepute with numerous issues documented throughout the polling process.
A significant portion of Monique Langley-Freeman’s report was dedicated to highlighting the problems with ACT Elections, “which indicated either a misunderstanding of our regulations and constitution; an unclear internal hierarchical structure, or an unwillingness to dedicate time or concern to our elections.”
Ultimately, Langley-Freeman believed that given ANUSA’s estimated expenditure ($20,000-$27,00), they did not receive “the best level of service for this amount of money.”
Elections for the ISD officer experienced the most bewildering complications, after one out of only two candidates for the position, Stephen Yuan, intended to withdraw but was past the deadline to do so. Due to miscommunication about the process with Phillip Green, the Returning Officer (RO) for the elections, Yuan was kept on the ballot and ultimately won the election, even though he did not want the role, and advocated for the other candidate, Mulyadi Chezar, on social media sites. He has now resigned from the ISD Presidency even before the start of his term.
The current ISD officer, Arabelle Zhang, who was present at the SRC meeting, confirmed Langley-Freeman’s report, highlighting ACT Elections’ vague replies (or no response at all) to their queries regarding withdrawals. By-elections for the ISD Presidency, along with the rest of the ISD Executive, are to be held in the coming weeks, with Langley-Freeman as RO.
Another issue presented itself in unclear eligibility requirements for the role of College of Asia Pacific (CAP) representative. An error in the data provided by the ANU to ACT Elections included PhB science students as being enrolled in the Joint Colleges of Science and the College of Asia and the Pacific.
ANUSA argued that they notified ACT Elections of the error immediately, although ACT Elections took an extended period of time to confirm with the university that there was an error.
Langley-Freeman’s report also expressed a willingness to clarify social media policy during elections for future years, as “the lack of clarity… is going to become more of a significant burden on our ability to hold free and fair elections.” Langley-Freeman hopes to work with General Secretary-elect Sam Duncan to resolve this, with reference to the AEC’s own social media policies to be released later this year.
Furthermore, while the Probity Officers were congratulated for their efforts, concerns were raised about the scope of their role. Initially, the Probity Officers were only meant to handle financial matters, but were forced to be on the ground during polling time and “[took] on a much larger role” than provided for them in the Regulations. According to the report, this was due to the RO’s unwillingness to be on the ground and ANUSA’s financial constraints.
Langley-Freeman also highlighted the “[calling] out” of Probity Officers online for “bad decision-making”, even though Probity was only passing on decisions made by the RO. Limiting the role of the POs, as per the report, would “protect the interests of the students in those roles” and maximise independence in the electoral process for future years.