The University of Sydney Union’s (USU) Electoral Arbiter (EA) has overruled the Returning Officer’s (RO) exclusion of independent candidate Zhixian Wang from the ballot.
Honi reported on Tuesday, May 9 that Wang was excluded for breaching regulations 8.10.1(l), which relates to bribery, and 8.10.1(p)(ii), which forbids the distribution of “misleading or deceptive” campaign materials.
However, candidates are allowed to appeal the RO’s decision within 24 hours of the initial reasoning, with appeals forwarded to a separate EA.
Wang confirmed she has been allowed to re-enter the election and told Honi she “[feels] incredibly motivated and grateful to have a second chance”.
“I think this is an exciting step towards making the USU elections more accessible to International Students and I am excited to get out there and talk to students about my vision for USU!”
Last week, Wang addressed her exclusion in a public Facebook post, saying she believed she “hope[s] that USU will be able to learn from this incident, and reform the regulations to better fit and adapt to the needs of international students, regardless of nationality”.
Regulation 8.10.1(l) forbids “the giving, procuring, promising, offering … [of] material resources in exchange for preferential treatment or to induce a voter to vote or to refrain from voting or to vote in a particular way”.
Wang was accused of breaching this regulation by using WeChat’s ‘Red Packet’ function, which allows users to transfer virtual credits, which can be withdrawn as real money, to others.
On this matter, Wang said in her post, “I delivered one ‘red packet’, with the value equivalent to $2 AUD in the group, and 42 members became recipients of the money. I would like to flag that the average amount received is 0.05 AUD. I treated the act as an advertising fee”.