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Four candidates in the election for the Journalist editorship requested an extension to the voting deadline because of disruption to postal services.
Mark Watts – freelance reporter, broadcaster as well as the FOIA Centre co-ordinator – made a formal request to the national union of journalists (NUJ) on behalf of the four. The three other candidates who joined in the request were Tim Arnold, Christine Buckley and Michael Cross.
The other four candidates declined to join in seeking a deadline extension.
The request, sent to NUJ officials by e-mail two days ago, asked the union to press the electoral reform services (ERS), which is running the elect-ion, to extend the voting deadline.
We understand that the ERS is discussing the issue with the NUJ, and an announcement could be made as soon as tomorrow (Thursday). The ERS is expected to advise the NUJ on the length of extension that it regards as necessary.
Watts said today: “I have had enormous feedback because of that e-mail circular, and it is clear that many members have not yet even received their ballot papers. An extension is vital in the interests of democracy.”
In the e-mail request, Watts wrote: “We know that two 24-hour nationwide postal strikes are scheduled for Thursday October 22 and Friday October 23, and there is every indication that there could be further industrial action by postal workers.
“Recent industrial action has already caused very significant disruption to postal services.”
He added that two of the four candidates had not even received their ballot papers. “I am receiving many reports from members who have not received their ballot papers,” said the e-mail.
“There is a very real risk that disruption to postal services will have a very significant impact on the number of ballots received by the deadline of November 6.
“We would like to ensure as democratic a decision in this election as possible, and believe that every effort should be made to prevent or, at least, to minimize any such impact.”
Meanwhile, Watts also said that he had been swamped with messages – mostly, although not wholly, supportive – following his dramatic e-mail circular to NUJ members.
He said: “I would ask everyone to bear with me. It is just not possible to keep up with the enormous feedback that I am receiving. But please keep it coming. We, the members, will take our union back from the politicized hijackers.”
“The level of support for my unmasking of the ‘NUJ Left’ candidate far outstrips the impression given by online commenting.
“The ‘NUJ Left’ crowd are plainly rattled, and they are, as predicted, dishing out vitriolic slurs – and spreading falsehoods and smears – to me and other critics. I think that most members can see through that, not least because no one from ‘NUJ Left’ has, so far as I have seen, provided a decent answer to the issues that I raised.
“I hope that NUJ members will vote in this election in much greater than expected numbers, and I urge them to do so as soon as possible.”
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