Max Ghose resigns after vote-rigging allegation
Cambridge Union is a debating society with more than 70,000 life members
THE president of the Cambridge Union has stepped down from his position within a week after allegations surfaced of manipulating votes to ensure the appointment of a friend as his successor, reported The Times.
Max Ghose resigned following an internal inquiry conducted by the union, which discovered several irregularities in the election for officers for the 2024 Lent term.
The investigation was initiated after James Hardy, the deputy returning officer for the vote, reported to the review committee about an act of electoral misconduct by Ghose, an alumnus of Old Eton College.
According to the report, Hardy described it as one of ‘the most astonishing acts of electoral malpractice I have seen’.
Ghose was acting as chief returning officer for the vote. After polls closed, he allegedly accessed the spreadsheet on which votes were stored.
Screenshots extracted from the spreadsheet revealed that a profile attributed to ‘Maximilian Ghose’ made several modifications to the document between 6.15 pm and 6.30 pm.
These alterations included the addition of various membership numbers, some of which belonged to individuals who had already left the university the previous year, The Times report said.
The purpose of the spreadsheet was to validate the voters participating in the physical ballot and ensure their alignment with the recorded data.
Hardy revealed that Ghose was the last person with access to the box of votes.
“I am seriously worried that there may have been wrongdoing. Either people have been voting after 6pm, with only Max present, or, worse, Max has added votes,” Hardy wrote in his report.
“The suggestion that a sitting president acting as RO might stuff ballots would be seriously detrimental to the Union’s reputation, and the validity of our elections.”
Following an inquiry, the union has decided to postpone the election for the next president until next year. In light of the findings, Ghose, who assumed the role in June after being elected in March, has resigned.
The vice-president will assume responsibilities in the interim.
Ghose, a second-year politics and international relations student, campaigned on a platform to increase the equalities budget and develop a union app. He was originally scheduled to serve until November.
The contest to find his replacement was between Nick Davis and Ellie Breeze, whom Ghose is accused of helping.
“The backdrop of all of this is everyone is hugely ambitious and wants to be union president so they can get an internship with an MP. The people in Westminster grow up in these environments and learn to backstab and in turn the antics in Westminster inspire future wannabe MPs to do a bit of their own backstabbing,” a union insider told The Times.
Established in 1815, the Cambridge Union is among the oldest societies globally and operates as a renowned debating society. With a membership exceeding 70,000 individuals for life, it has served as a platform for numerous distinguished speakers including the Dalai Lama, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Stephen Hawking.