Our election rules exist to ensure that, as a democratic and student-led organisation, our members get to have their say on how The Students' Union is run and who their student leaders are. We want our elections to be free, fair, and compliant with the rules and relevant legislation (see Education Act 1994 s.22(2) for more information). These rules are designed to ensure that all candidates compete on a level playing field.
If you have any questions about the rules, or you're thinking about running in the election, support is available from the Elections Team. You can get in touch with us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can't make the candidate support sessions, or prefer 1:1 support? The Elections Team is available every day until the close of nominations between 13:00-14:00 for one to one sessions with prospective candidates, either in person on Frenchay or via Microsoft Teams.
Book a 1:1
The Returning Officer (RO) is an external expert who is (re)appointed annually by the Board of Trustees to be the final decision-maker on issues around the elections and to ensure that they proceed according to the rules and the Constitution. The RO delegates their authority to the Deputy Returning Officer and their assistants, and acts as the appeals stage for any election complaints.
The Returning Officer is Peter Robertson - National Union of Students
The Deputy Returning Officer (DRO) is responsible for the day-to-day running of the elections, including responding to complaints in the first instance and applying sanctions where appropriate. Their responsibilities are laid out in full in the Byelaws.
The DRO is Scott Farmer (he/him)
The Assistant Returning Officers (AROs) form the rest of the team administering elections. They work with, and report to, the DRO. The AROs are:
Liz Murray (she/her)
Rhian Lister (she/her)
Viljo Wilding (they/them)
The Elections Team (DRO and AROs) can be contacted by email at email@example.com.
These principles form the overarching guidance from which our specific rules are written, and all candidates should abide by these principles - not just the "letter of the law" but the intention and meaning behind it, specified here.
Candidates are accountable for the behaviour of those campaigning on their behalf, including any potential sanctions for breaches of the election rules, Students' Union and University rules, and the law. In the event of a breach of the rules by a campaigner, candidates must satisfy the Elections Team that they did everything practicable to ensure that their campaign team abide by the election rules.
Campaigners agree not to make any negative, false or unsubstantiated claims against another candidate, person, or organisation.
Campaigners may only place, alter, move, or remove their own campaign materials.
A campaign team, or campaign, is made up of a candidate, their campaign agent, and the individuals who are working to help get them elected, known as “campaigners”. The campaign agent will be the candidate's registered nominee with whom the elections team will communicate alongside the candidate and in their stead. A campaign team cannot exceed 15 people, not including the candidate themselves and their agent, who will lead the team alongside the candidate. The name of the agent and a list of the members of the campaign must be submitted to the Elections Team before campaigning begins. A campaign team must only include registered UWE Bristol students, however, candidates may receive advice from non-students and may receive graphic design support from non-students.
A campaign may not start campaigning activities until all of the following conditions are met:
Once all conditions are met, the Elections Team will notify the candidate that their campaign may begin.
Campaigning in advance of the start of the campaign period, or failure to meet any of the above criteria, may result in a sanction for the campaign. Campaigns must not undertake any activities to promote their candidate until they are able to begin campaigning. However, the following activities are permitted by the candidate:
Campaigns may not utilise mailing lists of students relating to any sports club/society/course group, nor can student reps utilise MyUWE communications.
Campaigns may post in social media groups provided that they receive permission from the group’s admin/moderator prior to their posting, but should only post in a manner and frequency that a reasonable person would not construe as obstructive/spammy.
Campaigning may not take place in:
Campaigners must allow voters to cast their ballots freely and without interference. They must not come within a distance of 3 metres of a polling place. An electronic device on The Students’ Union website is considered a ballot, and campaigners must not come within 1 metre of a student casting their ballot.
Candidates may run on a slate so long as they have made this agreement with other candidates prior to the manifesto deadline and have entered the same slate name into the nomination form on The Students’ Union website.
Collaboration between campaigns whose candidates are not on an official slate is prohibited. This is to ensure that our elections are transparent and that voters are clear on which candidates are collaborating and which are not. Campaigners may, however, share their personal voting intentions in other elections. For example, if a candidate for President is asked who they will be voting for as VP Education, or who they will give their second preference to for President, they can share their personal views and encourage someone to vote with them, but must not actively campaign by sharing materials, manifesto or campaign slogans, etc. Campaigning should remain positive at all times
Slates may produce materials which depict multiple candidates, however, any expenditure for these materials (i.e. printing flyers) must be split equally between all candidates featured on the materials, and candidates must feature equally on the materials. For instance, a campaign may not produce a flyer where 90% of the space is focused on one of two candidates, then charge only 50% of the expenditure to that candidate’s expenses. Any attempts to utilise this rule to unfairly increase a candidate’s expenditure limits will face a sanction up to and including disqualification.
Campaigns should be fully transparent and accountable to The Students’ Union.
UWE Bristol Staff and permanent staff of The Students’ Union are prohibited from campaigning and shall stay impartial during the election period, except for Presidents who are running for re-election, who may take annual leave to campaign. Casual staff employed by The Students’ Union may engage in campaigning and endorse candidates but may not do so whilst on duty, whilst wearing The Students’ Union uniform, or in connection with their role as a member of staff. Additionally, they must notify the Deputy Returning Officer by email of their intention to campaign for a candidate.
Members of staff may be approached for professional advice and shall give information equally to all campaigners.
The DRO shall publicise to candidates the expenditure limits for any given election.
For The Student Elections 2024, no campaign may spend more than £50. The Students' Union will reimburse all expenditure up to this £50 limit.
The Students' Union may, at the discretion of the DRO, supply campaigns with basic resources free of charge, and these will not have to be accounted for in candidates' expenses. The list of materials provided to candidates will be circulated by the Elections Team prior to the start of campaigning.
All campaigns must submit to the Elections Team an accurate record of the expenditure incurred by their campaigns by the deadline given. Campaigns that submit their expenses after the deadline, in a format other than that specified by the Elections Team, or in an incomplete fashion may be disqualified at the discretion of the Deputy Returning Officer. If no expenditure is incurred, this must be submitted to the Elections Team by the same deadline, or the same disqualification may apply.
Campaigns may not use any resources belonging to The Students' Union (e.g. printers, staff laptops/email accounts) unless provided by The Elections Team. Campaigns must also not use any logos, iconography, or text which may imply endorsement by The Students' Union or UWE Bristol - this includes the logos of The Students' Union, UWE Bristol, and Team UWE. Additionally, campaigns may not use the logos, iconography, or text which implies the endorsement of any registered student group (sports club/society) unless and until that group has endorsed their candidate and confirmation from the Elections Team has been received by the candidate.
Postage & packaging costs do not need to be declared in the record of expenditure, however campaigns may choose to do so if they wish to be reimbursed by The Students' Union up to the limit of £50.
In line with our commitment to sustainability, we require that campaigns print no more than:
Campaigns using UWE Bristol student printers must declare this expenditure at the rate of 5p per A3/A4 black & white page and at the rates specified on the UWE Bristol website for colour printing and in all other sizes. The Elections Team requires campaigns to submit a copy of their printing history from UWE Bristol.
Any campaign to exceed these limits may face sanctions up to and including disqualification.
Manifestos and slogans are not mandatory for candidates, however they are recommended. Your manifesto should lay out your goals if elected, and your slogan provides a short description of your candidacy and your values.
Manifestos may not exceed 400 words.
Slogans may not exceed 6 words.
Manifestos and slogans must not mislead students, mention individuals other than the candidate themselves by name, and must align with The Students' Union's values.
Campaigners are prohibited from seeking "external endorsements" - that is, an endorsement by any individual that is not a UWE Bristol student or registered student group (sports club/society).
For the avoidance of doubt; UWE Staff, The Students' Union Staff, and any and all external individuals/organisations (e.g. Members of Parliament, political parties, companies) may not endorse or show favour towards/against any particular candidate.
However, individual students and registered student groups (sports clubs/societies) may choose to endorse a candidate during our elections and the below rules cover the process by which these endorsements may be made.
Societies and Sports Clubs may, if they so choose, endorse one candidate in each race within The Student Elections 2024. The Elections Team may organise a hustings with candidates and society committee members, to give committees an opportunity to speak with all of the candidates and read the candidates' manifestos.
The DRO will send a form to each society/club committee asking them to indicate which candidates, if any, they would like to endorse. Along with this form, the DRO may at their discretion invite candidates to submit a short statement to the society/club committee. The society/club committee may only endorse a candidate if a majority of the committee consents to the endorsement, and the form should only be submitted once this agreement has been reached.
If a candidate is a member of the committee of a society/club committee, they are entitled to ask the committee to endorse them, however they must remove themselves from any decision on which candidate to endorse and/or if the society/club should endorse a candidate.
Once their endorsement has been confirmed by the DRO, the society/club is allowed to share their endorsement with members and may encourage their members to support a candidate if they so wish. However, they must not force their members to vote for a specific candidate, nor should they spam their members with messages relating to a candidate's campaign. Individual members of a club/society are free to vote for whichever candidate they believe is best.
Societies and Sports Clubs must comply with these rules and the wider election rules and principles. Failure to do so may result in sanctions for the society/club or the campaign they have supported, so compliance with these rules is vital. Any questions can be addressed to the Elections Team (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Campaigns must not circumvent this process to seek the support of a society/club, and doing so is grounds for disqualification.
Campaigns may not seek the endorsement of individual students until the campaign has begun. Individual students may provide campaigns with a statement in support of a candidate, and may act up to and including sharing the candidate's material with friends in person or on social media, but may not do any other campaigning for said candidate unless they are a registered member of the candidate's campaign team.
The Presidents and Officers of The Students’ Union may not endorse any candidate, however, Part-Time officers may endorse a candidate in their capacity as an individual student.
If you see something that doesn't look right, speak to a member of SU Staff or email email@example.com.
Any and all rulings on the interpretation of these rules fall to the Returning Officer, who may be advised by the Deputy Returning Officer, and any such ruling will be final. The authority of the Returning Officer to do so is defined according to the Byelaws and Constitution of The Students' Union, and these election rules form part of the Notice of Election as defined in the (new) Byelaws.
Any full member of The Students' Union may submit a complaint if they believe a campaign is in breach of these rules. Complaints must be submitted by email to the Elections Team at firstname.lastname@example.org, and should be submitted within 24 hours of the incident concerned. Per the Byelaws, once the count has begun, no further complaints will be accepted by the Elections Team unless they concern the conduct of the count, and the count will not begin until any outstanding complaints have been resolved
Complaints should be factual and contain evidence of the alleged rule breach. Hearsay, or events which the complainant has not directly witnessed, is unlikely to be successful. Complaints should include as much information as possible about time, location, and any relevant features for identification (e.g. whether CCTV of the area may be available). Where CCTV is part of a scheme not operated by The Students' Union at UWE, a request will be made to the relevant scheme's CCTV controller to review the footage and make a statement based on this.
Complaints will be considered by the DRO in consultation with the AROs. The procedure to be followed in considering a complaint is as follows:
If a complainant or subject is unhappy with the outcome of a complaint, they may submit an appeal. Appeals must be submitted on the basis of significant evidence which was not considered by the Elections Team or on the basis of a failure to carry out the correct procedure.
A student who wishes to appeal may do so within 12 hours of receiving the notification from the Deputy Returning Officer, and will do so by email to email@example.com. The appeal will be considered by the Returning Officer and their decision on the matter will be final.