Why do we have Election Rules?
- Our rules aim to ensure elections are fair & inclusive to all students.
- Rules frame elections and campaigning activity by setting the boundaries of what can be deemed as acting fairly.
- If you are planning to be a candidate for any election, please be aware of our rules and read up below (there are not that many!).
The following rules apply to all SU elections and referenda. The Returning Officer may stipulate further rules for individual elections and campaigns.
For all elections, the Returning Officer (RO) is Charlie Slack, Head of Student Voice & Engagement. The RO is appointed annually by The SU's Board of Trustees and is ultimately responsible for ensuring free and fair elections in The SU. Election complaints can be escalated to the RO, however, they delegate their authority to the DRO who oversees elections day-to-day.
Deputy Returning Officer
For all elections, the Deputy Returning Officer (DRO) is Benjamin Palmer, Change & Inclusion Manager. The DRO is responsible for the day-to-day running of SU Elections and oversees the SU Officer Elections. The DRO will be the individual who examines and responds to all elections grievances in the first instance. The DRO is also responsible for candidate welfare during Officer elections and is in frequent contact with candidates. Contact the DRO by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chair of Elections Committee
The Chair of Elections Committee is yet to be appointed for the 2021-2022 year. The Chair of Elections is a student appointed by the DRO. They are responsible for the running of the Elections Committee and coordinating key election events such as Questions to Candidates, Results night, and others. The Chair is also in contact with SU Officer candidates throughout the election period.
External Appeals Officer
For all elections, the External Appeals Officer (EAO) is Caroline Dangerfield, Deputy Chief Executive of Bath Spa SU. The EAO is an independent contact which the RO/DRO can escalate complaints and grievance appeals to. Their job is to be the final arbiter for election grievances that are continually appealed.
Acting Returning Officers
Elections that relate to a particular area and where candidates are voted for by other students within the same group are directly overseen by Acting Returning Officers (ARO). The AROs are the SU Officers responsible for the area. Their powers are delegated by the RO and DRO and they remain responsible to the RO and DRO for the conduct of these elections.
'Campaigners' is the term used throughout these rules to mean candidates of SU elections as well as members acting on behalf of candidates (e.g. campaign teams).
- Cross-campus elections are open to all students.
- Any registered student at the University of Bath, in whatever, year, whether postgraduate or undergraduate, home or international, may stand and vote.
- Some elections are limited to the members of a particular group. For example, only postgraduates may stand for or may vote in, elections for the Postgraduate Executive Committees (not to be confused with the election for the Postgraduate Officer, where only postgraduates may stand but any student may vote).
Principle Rule 1
Campaigners must act in the interests of a fair election.
Principle Rule 2
Campaigners must treat all others with respect. This includes engaging in healthy debate and not campaigning negatively.
Principle Rule 3
Campaigners should only undertake activities that others can also reasonably do.
- All candidates and proposers are accountable for the actions of anyone acting on their behalf. This includes being able to demonstrate that they have taken reasonable steps to ensure that their supporter’s actions comply with the campaign rules in the event of a complaint against them.
- Campaigners will make no unsubstantiated claims of another campaign, person, or organisation.
- Campaigners may only alter, move or remove their own campaign materials.
- Expenses can only be incurred for Referenda, SU Officer elections, and NUS Delegate Elections. This means that candidates running in any other SU election must not spend money on their campaign.
- SU Officer campaigns must not exceed £50 in expenditure, of which £10 will be reimbursed from the SU.
- Referendum campaigns must not exceed £50 in expenditure, of which £50 will be reimbursed from the SU.
- NUS Delegate Election campaigns must not exceed £20 in expenditure, of which none of the cost will be reimbursed from the SU
- All campaigners must submit all their campaign costs with receipts to the Deputy Returning Officer. The final deadline for expenses will be made clear for each individual election. If no expenditure is incurred this must be declared to the Deputy Returning Officer.
- Items freely and readily available to all campaigners can be used without deduction from expenses and can be used without itemisation.
- Plain shirts will be expensed at £1 each regardless of cost. Printed shirts and transfer papers must be expensed at cost.
- The guidance around the expensing of printing costs will be made clear for each individual election.
- No 'part expensing' is permitted (you must expense the total cost of the entire item you have purchased, e.g. the entire paint can, not just the cost of half of it - even if you just used half.)
- Postage & Packaging costs do not need to be expensed.
- Campaign teams cannot exceed 15 people in total, in which a detailed list of campaigners must be submitted to the Deputy Returning Officer before campaigning begins. Candidates and proposers are not included within this limit.
- No 'Early campaigning' is permitted. Early campaigning is when a candidate (or campaign team member) promotes the candidate and asks students to vote for them. Therefore, the following are not seen as ‘early campaigning’:
- Telling close friends about your prospective candidacy.
- Recruiting people for campaign teams (in a non-public manner, i.e. not posting in large groups to recruit as this could look like you are campaigning covertly).
- Creating election content in a public place ahead of the election period (as long as there is reasonably no form of campaigning).
- Researching for a campaign/manifesto. Prospective candidates can contact specific students/student leaders indicating that they are ‘considering running for an SU Officer position’ or ‘doing some research as you may be running to be an SU Officer’, for example. In this regard, telling others that you are considering to run (is not telling them you are running), and not telling them the position (unless it is reasonably relevant) also makes it clear you are not lobbying for votes or trying to put others off of running.
- Campaigners may not use mailing lists.
- You must ask the Admin's permission before posting in social media groups.
- Campaigning cannot occur in the following places:
- The Library
- Outside the SU Advice and Support Centre
- Student Services
- Campaigners can only put up banners on campus during SU Officer Elections.
- Campaigners must allow voters to cast their ballot freely and without interference. All electronic devices are counted as ballot papers in this context
- Student groups and SU Officers cannot endorse any candidate, but students may in a personal capacity. This is to ensure elections remain open and accessible to all students and that the process is fair. Read more in our 'Rules for Student Groups' section.
- Candidates must not run on a slate. Slates are defined by candidates running on the same platform, normally along with similar branding and/or asking their supporters and the electorate to support another candidate.
- Campaigners may have to attend mandatory meetings. These will be made clear for the relevant election.
- Campaigns should be fully transparent and accountable to The SU.
- Manifestos cannot exceed 500 words.
- Manifestos must be in line with The SU's values and be inclusive - for example, this includes not mentioning drinking of alcohol in a manifesto, to ensure we don't exclude those who don’t drink alcohol (through choice, religion, being under 18, etc.).
- Manifestos must not mention individuals by name.
- Manifestos must not mislead students or contain false information.
- Members of staff shall not become actively involved in the politics of The SU, or be encouraged to do so, and shall remain neutral during elections. SU Staff in this context are University employees who work under the direction of the Chief Executive and do not apply to SU Officers or Student Staff when not at work.
- Members of staff can be approached for professional advice and shall give information equally to all campaigners.
- Student groups must not ‘endorse’ particular Officer candidates at all – however, groups can share candidates’ campaign content on social media as long as it follows our guidance:
- Groups should only be sharing candidates’ content if they request this to be done unless it is reasonably relevant or entertaining to the group’s membership.
- Online campaigning is not permitted to commence until candidates are announced formally, so if a candidate asks a group to share any campaign material before this time – this is against the rules.
- For Committee Members: if a student(s) on your committee is an Officer candidate (or are on a campaign team), then they cannot utilise group resources or committee privileges to promote their election campaign. Effectively, committee members who are candidates or campaign team members will not be permitted to use their committee communication channels to promote Officer elections - other committee members can do so but in a fair way.
- Committee members, who are not a candidate or a campaign team member can share any candidates’ campaign content (as long as you are willing to share their opponents’ content as well if they request). For example, if you re-shared a candidate’s Instagram story, in order for your group to avoid the perception that you are ‘endorsing’ that candidate, you must share a story from an opposing candidate if that opposing candidate subsequently requests you do to so. If an opposing candidate does not request this, you are not obliged to share other opposing candidates’ content.
- Additionally, as a committee member who will be using committee communication channels to promote elections, you cannot be using society/club group chats to promote specific candidates, but you can remind your members to vote/participate in the election. And as previously stated, committee members who are involved in an election campaign shouldn’t be using these channels to promote officer elections at all.
- In regard to members of groups: Committees can make their own decision on how to approach members' behaviour - as long as it is managed in the interest of a fair election and is consistent (i.e. committees shouldn’t be allowing certain candidates to be promoted but not others).
- Student Media must:
- Comply with Principle election rules and act in the interest of a fair election.
- Remain impartial and unbiased throughout election periods.
- Follow the guidance within the Election’s ‘Acceptable Behaviour Framework’.
- Members of media who are also Officer candidates:
- Must not be involved in any form of student media activity from the moment that nominations close.
- Must not be privy to any ‘behind the scenes’ media elections content planning (i.e. access to group chats, shared drives, etc.).
- Are not permitted to enter the media spaces from the moment nominations close, until results are announced. There are exceptions, candidates would be permitted to enter a media space if they are:
- Invited to participate in some form of media activity which has been extended to all candidates for that officer position.
- Granted written permission by the Returning Officer, Deputy Returning Officer, or Student Voice Coordinator, for any reasonable circumstance (e.g. to provide a technical service or advice in the event of a problem for which no other solution can be reasonably found).
- Needed in an emergency where health & safety reasons require the attention of people nearby.
- Members of media who are also members of candidates’ campaign teams:
- Must not be involved in any form of commentary, opinion pieces, or campaign/manifesto analysis related to SU Officer elections. However, they may be permitted to fulfill operational or technical roles if required (i.e. operating a camera at an event). This is applicable from the Manifesto deadline, until after results are announced.
- Must not be privy to any ‘behind the scenes’ media elections content planning (i.e. access to group chats, shared drives, etc.).
- Are permitted to participate in their own shows, writing of articles, and so on, if there is no relation or reference to Officer elections in any way. This is applicable from the Manifesto deadline, until after results are announced.
- Must only access media spaces where there is no reasonable alternative, and should only do so to work on shows or content completely unrelated to Officer elections. This is applicable from the Manifesto deadline, until after results are announced. There are exceptions, see above.
- In the interest of a fair election, the following guidance has been produced by the Deputy Returning Officer. This guidance is for Election candidates, campaign teams, student media, student groups, current SU Officers, any student interested in commenting on Officer elections.
- Click here to download the PDF.
- All rulings on the interpretation of the rules will be made by the Returning Officer or their nominated representative (i.e. DRO). Interpretation will be in the interest of the electorate above all others.
- Elections rules are in addition to general SU and University rules and regulations, and the Law.
- If a breach of these rules has occurred, the Returning Officer or their nominated representative may apply a sanction.
- Sanctions can include, but are not limited to:
- A direct reminder
- An informal or formal warning
- A public warning
- Temporary campaign ban (online or in-person)
- Complaints, grievances, and appeals must follow the grievance procedure.
Any full member of the Students’ Union can submit an election grievance if they believe a candidate’s behaviour during an election is in breach of the rules.
How to submit a grievance
Grievances will normally only be accepted within 24 hours from the incident and if emailed to email@example.com. No grievances will be accepted after 1 hour from the close of voting.
All outstanding grievances will be resolved before the conduct of the count. The only accepted grievances after this will be in relation to the count itself and must be submitted within 1 hour of the announcement of the results.
What happens next?
Grievance submissions will be considered by the Deputy Returning Officer, and sometimes in consultation with the Elections Chair or Elections Committee. The DRO will decide whether to accept (uphold) or reject the grievance, and you will be notified in writing of any resulting action.
What information should a grievance contain?
To help the Deputy Returning Officer consider your grievance, it should be factual and contain clear evidence about the complaint. Grievances that are comprised of hearsay or activity that does not directly affect you may not be successful. The Deputy Returning Officer reserves the right to consider grievances as vexatious and may take disciplinary action accordingly.
If a student is dissatisfied with the outcome of the grievance, they may be able to request the opportunity to appeal. The appeal stage will not usually consider the issues afresh or involve a further investigation.
Appeals must be made in writing no later than 3 hours of the decision and must be submitted in the normal procedure outlined above. This will normally be considered by the Returning Officer and can be escalated to the External Appeals Officer in some incidences.
The RO will decide whether to accept (uphold) or reject the appeal, and you will be notified in writing of any resulting action.
A member of the SU may appeal to the External Appeals Officer (through the Returning Officer) against a ruling of the Returning Officer or their deputy.
In general, appeals are only normally considered on the following grounds:
- a review of the procedures followed at the grievance stage is required.
- a consideration of whether the decided outcome was reasonable in all the circumstances.
- new material evidence is now available, which the student was unable, for valid reasons, to provide earlier in the process.
Any queries in relation to our election rules should be addressed to the DRO and sent to this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org