election rules

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Election Rules 

A. Context

 

1. It is important to remember that during the election campaign you continue to be bound by sets of rules that, whilst not strictly election rules, still have a bearing on your conduct.

  • Union Rules/Policies: This includes abiding by the Equal Opportunities Policy and Union Code of Conduct. Candidates should be aware that breaking Union rules may result in disciplinary action, either through the code of conduct or other consequences including potential disqualification from the election.

  • University Rules: For example, the bullying and harassment code, damage to University property and buildings, the policy on acceptable use of computers and e-mail etc. This is all outlined in the University Regulations. Breaking University rules can result in a University disciplinary

  • The Law: For instance laws protecting the defacement of property and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Breaking the Law can result in a civil action or criminal prosecution.

2. Any of these outcomes may put a candidacy in jeopardy and all of the above rules are enforceable by the Deputy and Returning Officer as election rules

B. Campaigning policy during COVID-19:

Current restriction - Stay at Home (National Lockdown)

 

We want to be honest and straightforward about how campaigning will be undertaken this year.  It is advised that unless there is a significant change in national restrictions or tier system, all candidates should prepare for all campaigning to be done online, therefore ensuring the safety of both candidates and voters.

  • This means: All campaigning must be done online, you must not undertake any in person campaigning

  • All campaign materials must be created for online publishing and promotion.  Putting up physical promotional materials would require leaving home for a non-essential purpose and therefore is currently not allowed within government restrictions

We will continue to review Government guidance and will updated all candidates if we are able to adapt this advice.

 

FAQ'S

 

Q: I’ve been posting on the welcome page - using the #’s. Is that the only SU run page we are allowed to post on? Just because I was thinking of posting in the ticket exchange as well but wasn’t sure if that would be allowed?

A: That's fine as it is an open group. Just continue to use the #

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Q: I am an admin on the mature student group on Facebook and we are more than happy for candidates to post on it, but what are the rules regarding students endorsing a candidate on the group (as someone has) or is this up to our and the other moderators discretion?

A: Individual students can endorse a candidate within the group, but the group as a whole cannot endorse a candidate. So as long as any candidate is given the opportunity to campaign in the group and any member of the group can support any candidate, its fine. But as moderators, you can keep an eye on it and if you think anyone is breaching a rule or at risk of doing so just let me know.

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Q: I am just wondering about Facebook ads. Is it a no go?

A: If you mean paying to boost your posts that is fine as long as it is within your budget and you claim it as an expense.

 

Q: Do we get to vote for PG officer if we are UG and vice versa?

A: No, if you are register as UG you can vote for UG officer, but not PG officer and vice versa?

Q: Can students share other students’ pages to the likes of the Mature Students Forum saying that they are voting for them?

A: Other students can share your manifesto in their groups and essentially endorse you as long as they are doing it as an individual, not on behalf of a group, and as long as they are allowed to post in that space.

 

Q: Can someone can post on your behalf in a club and soc group (as long as they do the same for anyone who asks them) or does it have to be you who posts it?

A: Someone can post on your behalf, but a committee member cannot endorse you. They would just be informing the rest of the group thatyou are running.

 

A:t's OK to post in a closer group if a) you ask permission from the moderator or the group as a whole, b) you are transparent about who you are and why you are posting etc, and c) the group understands that if they let you post in the group they have to allow any other candidates that ask to do the same.

C. Candidate and Campaigner Conduct

 

1. We expect all candidates to adhere to the following election and campaigning principles:

  • Fair and open
  • Democratic
  • Accessible
  • Transparent

2. We encourage candidates to treat each other with respect and discourage negative campaigning but ultimately the tone of the election is decided by the candidates. 

However, the following will not be tolerated:

  • Zero tolerance for personal attacks by candidates or their supporters
  • Must not make any offensive or defamatory statements
  • Must not conduct yourself in a manner that is detrimental to uea(su) or UEA
  • Must not make promises you know you cannot keep

3. Campaigners must take reasonable steps to ensure that their supporter’s actions comply with the campaign rules at all times and must be able to demonstrate this in the event of a complaint against them. This includes all activity by supporters online. In the event of a dispute with the Deputy Returning Officer as to whether an individual was under the control of a candidate, candidates may appeal to the Returning Officer.

4. Candidates and their Campaigners may only promote, share, alter, move or remove their own campaign materials.

5. Candidates and their Campaigners may use email lists or other contact lists but only where lawful to do so. In most cases, this will require the consent of the members on the list to use their details in line with GDPR law. For example, if you manage a mailing list or a what’s app group on behalf of your sports club, you cannot use that list or group to promote your campaign as you only have access to those contact details for the specific purpose of promoting the sports club.

6. The SU’s bye-laws outlaw bullying or intimidating a member into voting for a particular candidate or preference. As a result Candidates and their Campaigners must allow voters to cast their ballot freely and must not communicate with voters in any way once they have begun to complete their ballot. If Candidates and their Campaigners can see how a voter is expressing preferences and voting, they are in breach of this rule.

7. Whereas candidates may well adopt similar policy stances and use similar publicity materials to other candidates, no candidate shall use publicity to promote another candidate, in the same or other election.

8. In order to ensure adherence to the principles outlined in bye-law 5.9:

  • No elected officer of uea(su) may endorse a specific candidate in any union election in any verbal or written fashion.
  • Elected Officers remain permitted to encourage other students to run in the leadership elections.
  • No electoral candidate may accept and subsequently publish an endorsement by an individual who is not a member of uea(su). This means that you could not get a celebrity to endorse you on Instagram or your local MP to give you a statement of support.
  • No elected Union Officer may offer a specific electoral candidate advice on an individual level on any matters regarding manifesto realisation or manifesto construction, which goes beyond providing general, universal.

D. Online Campaigning Guidance

 

It is important to remember that any online campaigning for SU elections is an official part of the election process and governed by the same rules. So any behaviour that would be considered unacceptable at a physical event, is equally as unacceptable in any online campaigning space.  All users interacting with the Students’ Union, or a representative of the Students’ Union (including student leaders), should have an expectation of feeling safe.

 

1. In order for SU staff to monitor campaigning to ensure it adheres to these guidelines, where possible please include #YourSUYourSay on online campaign posts.

2. Live streaming will be considered publishing and therefore all the same campaigning rules apply during a live stream.

3. Due to the difficult nature of keeping a record of candidate campaigning on Snapchat, we will not be allowing the use of Snapchat as a platform for campaigning.

4. No external endorsements – thing includes no use of celebrities, social media influencers etc who are not members of uea(su).

5. Consider your digital footprint when creating your campaign assets.  If you use your personal social media accounts bear in mind what your friends, family and future employers will see.

6. Consider your privacy – you might prefer to create an account specifically for campaigning, but this must still be visible to election officials so that we can ensure it is compliant with election rules. When campaigning with supporters, do not give them passwords and access to your social media accounts.

7. Be aware also that some groups you post in may include alumni, not just current students and due to lockdown there may potentially be more interest in this election that previous elections.

8. Consider the purpose of the online spaces you are campaigning in – a closed Facebook group or a dating site might be considered a private space where people may not welcome campaigning.

9. Keep in mind copyright and ownership of images and content when creating or sharing campaign materials.

10. Some platforms allow for anonymity and some users take this an opportunity to behave inappropriately. The Students’ Union has a zero tolerance approach to conduct that could legitimately be perceived by its recipients as:

  • Cyber Bullying/Stalking
  • Trolling/Online Impersonation
  • Excluding
  • Sexual harassment
  • Discriminatory comments and behaviour
  • Abuse and unwanted attention
  • Threatening or violent behaviour or language

11. Any inappropriate behaviour will be treated seriously and could have repercussions not only for someone’s candidacy in the election, but could also potentially result in a university disciplinary investigation or a uea(SU) code of conduct investigation.  Remember, candidates are also responsible for the actions of their supporters when campaigning on their behalf.

12. If you are concerned about the online conduct of a candidate or one of their supporters, email the Deputy Returning Officer Claire Boothby-Barnbrook, with Election Complaint as the email subject, detailing the allegation(s), the rules broken and any evidence.  See How to Make a Complaint below for details of deadlines.

13. Further guidance about safe nline activity can be found here.

E. Campaigning & Expenditure

 

1. Campaign expenditure is defined as expenditure in pursuit of promoting a candidature and can be further defined from time to time by the returning officer.

2. Candidates in all elections have a maximum amount (£20 for Full-Time Officer elections and £10 for Part-Time, NUS and Convenor elections) they can spend on their campaigns once the nomination has been confirmed, which can be reimbursed by the Union upon production of receipts. All expenditure must be accounted for on a form we will provide. Candidates are required to produce receipts of their expenditure by the relevant deadline.

3. Any expenditure must be both that which all candidates have had the opportunity to carry out, and that which is replicable by all other candidates in a given election.

4. “Labour Costs” are not counted. Hire, materials production and materials or distribution of consumables are counted.

5. Paid advertising is acceptable, for example, paying to boost Facebook posts, and must be recorded and reported in the same way as any other campaign expenditure.

6. Where there is a question as to the extent to which it is reasonable to believe that the use of a tactic or resource was open to all, the deputy returning officer’s decision is final and so advice should be sought first.

 

Campaigning & Expenditure Principle 1: Reasonable

In determining whether the use of a resource needs to be charged to campaign expenditure, the Returning Officer will use the “reasonable” test. For example, it is reasonable to assume all candidates own a mobile phone, thus the use of your phone for social media activity does not need to be accounted for. It is not reasonable to assume all students have a full scale media studio at home. Thus anyone using one as a feature of their campaign would have to account for how much it would cost another candidate to replicate this. If in doubt candidates should consult the Deputy Returning Officer first.

 

Campaigning & Expenditure Principle 2: Replicable

Actions must be replicable by anyone else in the election. For example, if you tell jokes to students outside the union shop, anyone else could do the same. But if you won a blimp in an eBay auction for 25p it is not likely that someone else could buy a blimp for 25p.

  • Some Examples:

1. Your father owns a pizza restaurant and gives you 50 £5 vouchers for pizza for free to use as incentives. You would have to declare a cost equivalent to 50 £5 vouchers within your expenditure.

2. You and 3 other candidates share purchasing of advertising space on a student-friendly website and agree a discount with the owner, saving 20% on the normal price.  Your cost declared would be the full cost of the advertising space without the discount as it would be difficult for every other candidate to replicate this.

3. You own a pen and write “vote Jimmy” on existing posters. The pen does not count as expenditure as it is reasonable to assume that all students can access a pen.

4. You borrow a blimp and paint on it “vote Jimster”. This is not allowed as it is not reasonable to assume that all students can access a blimp.

F. Election Rules from the Bye-Laws (Bye-Law 5)

 

Bye-Law 5: Election Regulations Pursuant to the Articles of Association

These are the rules governing the election of Student Officers, Equal Opportunities Officers, Course Representatives, Union Council Representatives and delegates to the NUS National Conference. Rules governing the election of Student Officers and the NUS National Conference Delegates.

 

Returning Officer:

 

5.1 The Returning Officer shall be a suitably qualified person external to the University of East Anglia, appointed by the Board of Trustees of the Union of UEA Students and formally approved by the University Registrar. The Returning Officer shall be ultimately responsible for the election.

5.2 The Returning Officer shall monitor the actions of the Deputy Returning Officer, who shall be appointed by the Student Officer Committee and cannot be an ordinary member of the Union, for each election, and will determine any complaint relating to the conduct of the election where appropriate.

5.3 The Returning Officer, and the Deputy Returning Officer, shall undertake any duties necessary to ensure the fair and proper conduct of the elections.

5.4 The Returning Officer shall publish a list of any election rules or interpretations and the timeline for each election in advance of the election taking place having taken advice from the Deputy Returning Officer and the Democratic Procedures Committee.

5.5 The Returning Officer has executive responsibility for interrupting the election regulations and other bye-laws which may impact on the election. They will not normally have “day-to-day” interaction with candidates however retain powers to intervene in the election alongside acting as the final route of appeal for candidates.

5.6 The Deputy Returning Officer will have the delegated powers from the Returning Officer to issue rulings and warning to those taking part in the election in relation to the election regulations and other bye-laws.

5.7 The Deputy Returning Officer shall be responsible for ensuring there is support and guidance provided to candidates and potential candidates wishing to take part in the elections. The details of this support and guidance should be advertised in advance of the election period.

5.8 During the course of the election period additional support may be called on to ensure elections are well run and administered correctly. The Returning Officer and Deputy Returning Officer have the discretion to introduce other election officials to provide this.

 

Principles of a Union of UEA Students Election and Rules:

 

5.9 All elections taking place at the Union of UEA Students shall be: fair and open, democratic, accessible and transparent.

5.10 A timetable for the election period will be set out by the Deputy Returning Officer, on advice from the Student Officer Committee and Democratic Procedures Committee and made available to members in advance of the election period. All voting figures will be published in good time after the election closes.

5.11 The Returning Officer and the Deputy Returning Officer will publish election campaigning rules, on advice from the Student Officer Committee and Democratic Procedures Committee, that adhere to these principles in advance of the close of nominations for an election.

5.12 It is the role of the Returning Officer, and Deputy Returning Officer, to ensure these principles and the subsequently adopted rules are upheld. Where it is felt that these adopted rules are not being upheld by a candidate the Returning Officer, on advice from their Deputy, make take the following action:

  • 5.12.1 the disqualification of a candidate or candidates from the election;
  • 5.12.2 that promotional materials (including but not limited to posters, flyers and online materials) contravening the regulations be removed;
  • 5.12.3 that publicity be displayed at any fixed Union polling stations and online giving details of an infringement;
  • 5.12.4 order a re-election, starting the election process at any stage
  • 5.12.5 order a re-vote, which shall mean all the election stages which follow completion of nominations, and shall not include the reopening of nominations
  • 5.12.6 order the non-payment of a campaign expenses claim
  • 5.12.7 Student Officers are prohibited from endorsing electoral candidates. ‘Endorsement’ is defined as showing support for candidates through attempting to persuade or dissuade persons to vote for a candidate. This may be through writing, creating and distributing a candidate’s campaign materials and manifesto.
  • 5.12.8 Student Officers that choose to re-stand for a second term are able to endorse themselves. ‘Self-endorsement’ is defined as showing support for candidates through attempting to persuade or dissuade persons to vote for oneself. This may be through writing, creating and distributing their own campaign materials and manifesto
  • 5.12.9 Part time officers will have their officer rights suspended for the duration of the election period if they have actively solicited in an endorsement.
  • 5.12.10 Full time officers will be suspended from their role for the duration of the election period if they have actively solicited in an endorsement.
  • 5.12.11 Society and club members may endorse individually but not on the behalf of the entire student group. For example, a president of a club can say you should vote in the election, but cannot say who you should vote for on behalf of the entire club membership.

5.13 The Deputy Returning Officer has the power, devolved from the Returning Officer, to issue warnings to candidates in the election and should set out in these warnings the action which shall follow if they are not heeded which could be any of the above.

5.14 The Deputy Returning Officer has the power, devolved from the Returning Officer, to suspend a candidate from the election pending the outcome of an investigation into an alleged breach of rules. During this period, the candidate is not permitted to actively campaign or discuss publicly the reasons for their suspension.

5.17 These principles and rules will be kept under review to enable and maximise participation in elections and measures to restrict activity of candidates and campaigns to ensure fairness, and to this effect the Deputy Returning Officer will make recommendations in their Annual Report to the Union Council on adaptations.

 

Standing in the Election and Campaigning

 

5.18 Members wishing to stand as a candidate in any election will be required to complete and supply to the Deputy Returning Officer all relevant nomination material in advance of the close of nominations.

5.19 Where possible manifestos or their equivalent will be promoted via student media. It is the responsibility of the Deputy Returning Officer to organise this and no individual candidate should attempt to promote themselves in any Union run student media.

5.20 An opportunity will be provided to members to ask questions to the candidates standing in the election. The rules for taking part in this will be developed by the Deputy Returning Officer and made available to candidates in advance of the event.

5.21 Candidates accept any terms and conditions of employment relating to the post at the point of nomination by completing the relevant nomination form.

5.22 Any candidate may withdraw their nomination by informing the Deputy Returning Officer and the Returning Officer, in writing, at any point.

5.23 Whereas candidates may well adopt similar policy stances and use similar publicity materials to other candidates, no candidate’s publicity will be permitted to promote another candidate, in the same or other election.

5.24 Should any member have objections regarding the eligibility of any candidates these should be made in writing to the Deputy Returning Officer in advance of the voting period opening.

 

The Ballot Paper

 

5.25 In any election where there are any nominations the ballot paper shall include the statement "Re-open Nominations" (RON). RON will be treated like any other candidate and as such will have a campaign budget equal to the other candidates, will have their votes counted in the same manner and will fall under the same disciplinary actions as the other candidates. If at any stage of the count RON candidate gains the required number of votes to be elected, it shall be deemed to have been elected and any surplus and any further votes, transferred to a further RON candidate. This stage shall be repeated as often as required. The returning officer shall declare unfilled the number of vacancies equal to the number of ‘re-open nominations’ candidates deemed to have been elected, if any.

 

Voting

 

5.26 The voting system used will be the Single Transferable Vote.

5.27 Candidates and their representatives shall not attempt to bully or intimidate a member into voting for a particular candidate or preference. As such, they must not approach any member who in the process of casting their vote.

 

Complaints and Results

 

5.28 Any complaint on the conduct of the election or of any violation of these Regulations must be made in writing to the Deputy Returning Officer prior to the count, except where the complaint relates to the conduct of the count itself. If the complainant is dissatisfied with the resolution of the Deputy Returning Officer, or the Deputy Returning Officer is the subject of the complaint, the complainant may make the complaint in writing to the Returning Officer whose ruling shall be final.

5.29 All election results shall be reported, by the Deputy Returning Officer to the next meeting of Union Council.

 

The Count

 

5.30 The count shall be supervised by the Returning Officer or their nominee

5.31 The Count should be conducted in accordance with rules outlined by the Electoral Reform Society for running elections by Single Transferable Vote.

5.32 Complaints about the count must be made in writing to the Returning Officer no later than one working day after the announcement of the result.

5.33 The results of the election will only come into effect once the Returning Officer has certified that the result is the accurate outcome of a free and fair democratic procedure.

5.34 A count shall only commence once all complaints and appeals about campaigners have been resolved.

5.35 The count should commence only after the Deputy Returning Officer is satisfied that all complaints relating to the conduct and administration of the election have been resolved.

 

How to make a complaint

 

Complaints about the conduct of Candidates and their Campaigners must be sent to the Deputy Returning Officer Claire Boothby-Barnbrook, with Election Complaint as the email subject, detailing the allegation(s), the rules broken and any evidence.

All complaints regarding the conduct of Candidates and their Campaigners must be received within an hour of the close of polling on Thurs 18th Feb (11:00).

All complaints must be resolved to the satisfaction of the Returning Officer before the count can commence.

 

For any further information, please contact Esin D'Amery.

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