Number of supporters unable to vote, in spite of being eligible and on voter list, was enough to give Howard Beckett a clear win – and grassroots left has taken dim view of Turner’s claimed victory
A post-election report on the mechanics of the United Left (UL) selection count has confirmed that UL proclaimed the wrong winner of the contest.
Steve Turner ‘won’ the ballot by just three votes but the report, seen by the SKWAWKBOX including a list of those affected, confirms that well over a dozen UL members were denied a vote because the emails containing online ballot links ‘bounced’ – the email addresses provided by UL to the firm sending out online ballots were incorrect, while several votes awarded to Turner were invalid.
The ‘lost’ Beckett votes
An overwhelming majority of those disenfranchised by the provision of wrong emails for the electronic ballot were Beckett supporters. Correct email addresses had been supplied to UL and email chains seen by SKWAWKBOX confirm that data controllers did not follow up on pleas to sort ballot issues before polling closed.
In spite of the bounce list UL has claimed all entitled to vote were able to do so, ignoring this and other issues to publish an endorsement of Turner as its nominee and Turner has publicly welcomed and accepted the statement of support – but the move has gone down badly with many on the left, who have said that accepting a clearly-flawed ‘victory’ reflects badly on him and called on him to show leadership by himself calling for a re-run:
The number may well have been larger. The voting company could only report bounces – non-delivery reports resulting from invalid email addresses – but emails to an incorrect email that exists (but belongs to someone other than a UL member) would not result in a bounce.
Member email addresses, according to insiders, were provided by United Left officials who endorsed Turner.
Ineligible Turner votes
Two ballots were issued to Turner supporters whose joining date did not qualify them to participate, but bigger discrepancies also exist:
- a separate section of United Left was created in Scotland. Normally UL members in Scotland vote through PULS – Progressive United Left Scotland, which overwhelmingly supported Beckett. But a separate section was created before the ballot, adding 11 voters in Scotland
- one region added a group of “cash paying” members to the regional list it submitted. The SKWAWKBOX understands that some were members of the Communist Party who joined late and voted for Turner
The contest saw an array of other issues, including:
- delays in sending electronic ballots
- failures to provide ballots to members who queried why they did not receive one
- regional lists of voters were never validated, in spite of requests by the Beckett campaign
- issues with the entitlement to send campaign emails
- the pre-recording of a hustings statement when the rules of the contest stipulated live presentations
- late additions of voters after the eligibility cut-off
- unequal treatment of voters in arrears, with some allowed to vote and others not
- the promotion of Turner’s candidacy on official UL social media
- lack of provision of lists of eligible voters
So many were the issues that Beckett’s supporters were forced to spend voting day chasing missing ballots instead of in the planned ‘get out the vote’ operation.
Even without those other issues, Beckett supporters denied a vote would have been enough to ensure a clear Beckett win.
Some of Turner’s supporters have tried to dismiss the significance of the issues, but the invalid email addresses confirmed in the post-selection report and the issue of those who chased their ballot but did not receive one are conclusive – had had the contest been conducted properly, Beckett would have won the UL contest by around 383-368.
There is no suggestion Steve Turner was responsible for the errors, nor of impropriety by the voting firm. However, there is no doubt that, whether driven by incompetence or unprofessionalism, these issues on the part of a small number of people changed the outcome of the contest.
The SKWAWKBOX attempted to contact United Left for comment, but the organisation’s contact form – the only contact method its site provides – was not working.
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