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SRC online election launch a disaster

Emails supposed to contain a link to the voting platform are blank, whilst students are unable to login via Outlook.

The launch of the SRC’s first online elections today has met with disaster, with many emails to students not including a link to the online voting platform. Outlook, through which University emails operate on Windows and web browsers, is not allowing some users to log in.

Returning Officer Geoffrey Field told Honi that emails had successfully been sent through to several test accounts this morning, forwarding one example to Honi in an email titled “so calle blamk emails”.

He said that the election’s online platform, BigPulse, is investigating the issue and that it believes “this is occurring offshore.”

Honi is aware of several blank emails being sent to students in Australia.

A blank email sent to one student.
Some students are unable to log in to Outlook to access the email to vote.

Campaign managers from across the political spectrum are concerned by launch’s failure

“It is utterly baffling that the basic premise of an online election, that students are able to access the online voting portal, has not occurred. In the interests of democracy, we hope that the problem is rectified immediately and all students are issued with a working link to the ballot,” Grassroots campaign manager, and provisionally elected SRC President Swapnik Sanagavarapu told Honi.

“It’s very concerning to see an issue of this size on the day polls open, and doesn’t inspire much faith in an electoral officer who has already been difficult to work with throughout the campaign,” SRC Vice President Felix Faber from Pump (NLS) says.

“The SRC’s elections have a reputation for being large, vibrant, and well-managed, and this is honestly just embarrassing.”

“It is disappointing that technical issues persist when the University already has existing arrangements for online voting  in Undergraduate and Post Graduate [sic] Senate elections,” Nicolas Comino of Colleges for SRC says. “The voter enrolment process also disenfranchises voters and students. Overall we are disappointed but hope it will be rectified.”

Left Action (Socialist Alternative), had been an early critic of the SRC’s decision to adopt online voting this year.

“Lily Campbell was right all along. Online voting is fucked and impossible to conduct securely. Bring back paper ballots!” Education Officer and Left Action manager Jack Mansell told Honi.

Field told Honi that, as of the close of voter registration at 6pm last night, 4059 students had registered to vote. That is more than a thousand fewer students who voted in last year’s elections, which saw unusually high turnout. Field stated that he then allowed an additional 200 students to register to vote after the closing time.

Field cited a number of issues with enrolments, stating he had “spent considerable time and effort in rectifying voter registrations where an incorrect email address has been provided.”

Field estimates that 1 in 20 enrolled voters had issues with their email addresses, and those who did not respond to his request for amended details should contact him immediately to ensure he can issue them an invitation to vote.

The University of Sydney Union also used BigPulse for their Board elections in Semester 1, but faced no similar issues.

Nina Dillon Britton is a former member of Sydney Grassroots.

After the time of writing, Field told Honi that the University had informed him of a global outage in Outlook 365. He stated that the University had not blocked any BigPulse emails.