Welcome to the Students' Union Election Candidates' Handbook. Since you're reading this, you've probably decided that you want to run as a candidate in the upcoming Union Elections. This handbook is designed to outline the procedures and regulations of the elections, and to answer the most common questions candidates have If there are any questions that this handbook fails to deal with, or if you encounter any questions throughout the election, don't hesitate to seek the advice of myself or any of the Returning Officer team. The Students' Union is the most important body for students in the University. By representing the interests of students as a group to the University authorities, it gives students a far greater say in the decisions that directly affect their experience studying in NUI Maynooth. By becoming an Executive Officer or Representative, you'll have the chance to guide the policies of the Union to benefit the student community. On behalf of the Returning Officer team, and the Union as a whole, I'd like to wish the very best of luck in your campaign.
Ciarรกn McFadden MSU Returning Officer
It is important to check before starting your campaign that you meet the criteria to run for Students' Union office. The following excerpts from the S.U. Constitution spell out the requirements clearly: (14.9) No person shall put themselves forward for election that is unable to fulfil the portfolio for which they present themselves. Article 17.8 means that, in the case of the election of a Representative, you must be part of the represented group in order to be accepted as a candidate. For example, only a First Year student may run for First Year Representative, and so forth. It also goes without saying that you must be a registered student. Before you can be officially accepted as a candidate for the elections, you must first be successfully nominated. The Returning Officer Team will check the names and student numbers of your proposers before deeming your nomination valid. .
Campaign MUST NOT begin until the close of nominations, through any guise i.e. Facebook, Twitter etc. Your campaign is the most important part of the entire election process. It will ultimately decide the success or failure of your attempt to be elected. Your campaign MUST in the interest of fairness for all concerned follow strict guidelines and procedures. Most candidates gather a team of friends and supporters to help with their campaign. A campaign team can be invaluable to spread your policies throughout the college. When picking your team however, you should take care that they are people you trust to carry out your campaign, as you would want. You should try not to take your campaign to - Ipsum extremes. Posters including offensive or vulgar material, as well as campaigning in a “hassling” way is more likely to harm than help your campaign. Reports of inappropriate conduct through a campaign will be looked upon very harshly and may carry penalties including fines or disqualification. Posters: Posters have been traditionally the most popular method of communicating with the student body. However, there are a number of regulations concerning their use. Poster Policy for Elections 2012
Posters may not be placed on painted surfaces, or obstruct the view through a glass surface. The best rule of thumb is to restrict your posters to noticeboards. Posters should only be placed on general noticeboards. Students’ Union (particularly the Elections noticeboard), Entertainments and Club and Society notice boards are off-limits. You may also not cover the advertising that surrounds some notice boards No more than two A4 or one A3 poster may be put on any one notice board. You may not cover or remove another candidate’s poster or a Club or Society poster that advertises a future event. Candidates may not use photocopiers or printers in the Students’ Union for poster printing; these are for society and Union use only. Posters can be printed in the Students’ Union shop in the Arts Building.
Any violation of the above regulations will incur a €2 fine per poster and the offending poster will be removed. You should note that the Security Department also monitors posters around campus and they have been known to remove posters, or in some cases implement their own fines for infractions. They are particularly protective of the John Hume Building. It is your responsibility that anyone who puts up your posters is aware of these rules. You bear responsibility for all posters put up in your name. 4
Alcohol Policy for Elections 2011:
The university policy on alcohol may be found in the capitation handbook at http://www.nuim.ie/publications/studentservices/capitation_ handbook.pdf
Other Campaigning Tools: If you use handouts or leaflets in your campaign, you must be mindful of the litter that it creates. Computer Centre and Library staff has a policy of removing all election material from PACRs and the Library. Any litter created by dropped leaflets must be cleaned up before you move away, and fines of 50c per leaflet will be incurred for excessive pollution. If you wish to make a speech in lectures, you should always ask the permission of the lecturer in charge, and keep your speech to the point. You should not take questions, but instead point out where you will be available to talk with students should any wish it. Disrupting lectures or other academic activities is a serious offence, and could potentially result in the University authorities becoming involved. Care must be taken that campaigning inside or outside the lecture theatre does not create a distraction for those engaged in academic activities. A maximum of TWO large banners (such as those traditionally hung between the John Hume flagpoles) will be permitted, provided they do not damage any University property.
Facebook policy: Facebook may not be used in a manner that influences negatively on the other candidates, Facebook must be used in a fair and open manner and any issues of contrary that arise during the election campaign will be taken seriously. Please ensure that any campaign pages are open to the public (i.e. one does not have to be friends with the page). Clubs and Societies may not actively endorse candidates.
Use of Union Facilities: During your campaign, you may not use any Student Union facilities that are available to you by virtue of your position within the Union, or as an elected official of a club or society. This includes the Clubs and Societies Office, the Executive Office, or a position writing for the Union newspaper or website. You also may not approach current members of the Guardianship of the Constitution or Returning Officer team for help with your campaign. These people must maintain impartiality and any attempt to change that is a serious offence, punishable by up to disqualification as a candidate. It is forbidden for members of the S.U. Executive to use their position to further the campaign of any one candidate. While the Exec is free to give help and advice they may not, for example, say, “I, John Smith, President of the SU, support this candidate’s campaign”. The one and only exception to this rule is when a current Executive officer is running for election. 5
Sanctions for Breaches of Election Rules and Regulations:
1st Breach: Verbal Warning from Returning Officer 2nd Breach: 1st Written Warning from Returning Officer 3rd Breach: Final Written Warning from Returning Officer After the final written warning has been issued the matter will be forwarded to the Guardianship of the Constitution for ruling. Hustings: Hustings for candidates will be held on Thursday 1st, Monday 5th and Tuesday 6th March, time TBC. Each candidate will be allowed to make a three-minute speech, followed by questions from the audience. Once every candidate has spoken, the floor will be opened to general questions from the audience. Questions are written on cards, which will be read out by the Chair. This is to allow the audience to ask questions in anonymity. However, a maximum of two follow-up questions/rebuttals will be permitted by the chair, provided they of a constructive and relevant nature. All candidates are required to be present at their relevant Hustings session. If you bring material (flyers, manifestos…) with you to Hustings, you must ensure that they are cleaned away before you leave, or you will incur a fine for creating litter. Tips on campaigning:
Almost everything on campus is advertised using posters – make yours stand out – use coloured paper or novel designs. Try to include a picture of yourself on your election material – think about all the election material you've seen for the national elections Talk with students and find out what they want an officer in your position to do – give the people what they want! Videos are a particularly good way of conveying your campaign message. Please show respect for fellow candidates in all manners of your campaign. Campaign Expenses:
To be eligible for any reimbursement, you must have received at least 5% of the valid first preference votes. Executive candidates my claim a maximum of €10 while sabbatical candidates may claim up to €20. In an election where there is only one candidate, the maximum amount is €5. To claim your payment you must submit receipts for valid election expenses in one envelope with your name and the amount claimed written clearly on the outside. The envelope should be left in the Returning Officer letter-box before Monday, 12th March. Any fines that you incur over the election period will be subtracted from your claim. You may not use extra expenses to offset fines. E.g. If you spent €30 on your (sabbatical) campaign, and received fines totalling €10, you still can only claim €20, from which €10 is subtracted, leaving you with a payment of €10. 6
Polling day will be held on Wednesday 7th March and will take place in the Arts Building and the John Paul II Library from 9.30am to 6.30pm. Commencing at 8am on polling morning, until the close of polling, an “exclusion zone” will be in effect around the Arts Building and Library polling stations. No campaigning may be carried out in the exclusion zones, and all posters and election material must be removed beforehand. The Returning Officer Team will inspect both areas before polling commences, and any material found will be removed and a €2 fine issued for each offending piece, excluding the Satellite Stations, where the RO Team will temporarily remove any posters and replace them after the station is closed. Absolutely no campaigning may be carried out in the exclusion zones. This includes persons acting on behalf of the candidates in any way. Candidates themselves should not enter the areas, except for the purposes of casting their vote, or to attend lectures or tutorials, and then they should move quickly by the shortest route. A member of the candidate's election team should periodically check areas inside the exclusion zone to ensure that it remains clear of flyers or leaflets that may have been brought in by students from outside. The permanent exclusion zone will be as follows: Around the Arts Block:
From the edge of the grassy area outside the Hume Building to the Arts Block entrance facing that building. From the Callan Building entrances to the Arts Block Entrance facing that building. Along the path leading from the Arts Block to the Restaurant, as far as the entrance to the staff car park, including the grassy and bedded areas to either side. Along the raised paths surrounding the Arts Block. Anywhere inside the Arts Block, including lecture halls, toilets, PACRs and offices.
Around the John Paul II Library
Includes the entire library building, paths immediately surrounding it and the bridge outside the main door.
Anyone found in violation of this rule will be asked to leave by the Returning Officer Team. Repeated or malicious contravention of this rule will be interpreted as interfering with the proper conduct of the elections and carries penalties up to disqualification. Sample ballot papers will be shown to the candidates prior to polling day. Ballot papers will show the candidates' names in alphabetical order, as well as a photograph of their faces. Instructions to voters will also be shown on the ballot paper. In the case of a single-candidate election, voters will be asked to vote “Yes” or “No” for the nominated candidate, instead of choosing between multiple candidates. Write-in candidates are not permitted, and will spoil a vote.
The Election Count will begin on Thursday 8th March at approx. 10.00am. No one except members of the Returning Officer Team may enter the count area; however a separate area for candidates will be set up beside the count area. Each candidate may nominate TWO tally persons to act on his or her behalf during the count. The purpose of a tally person is to observe the process of the count for a candidate and to represent their candidate in discussions with the Returning Officer. Tally persons argue whether if a spoiled vote should be counted, and if a recount should be called. You may act as your own tally, but due to the high-pressure situation, it is recommended that you ask trusted friends to be your tally persons. Both candidates and tally persons will be required to wear identifying badges throughout the count. Only ONE tally person per candidate may argue over spoiled votes. When you first enter the venue, you should make yourself and your tally persons known to a Returning Officer.
Elections in the Students' Union are carried out using the principle of the single transferable vote. Electors vote 1, 2, 3, etc...in order of their preference for the candidates. At the beginning of the count, the votes will be separated according to first preference. In order to be elected, a candidate must achieve 50% of the votes cast, plus one vote, a number called the quota. If no candidate reaches the quota, a new round begins - the candidate on fewest votes is eliminated and their votes redistributed according to their next-highest preference. This process is repeated until one candidate has reached the quota, or until only one candidate remains.
A vote which has no clear preference between the candidates or one which the voter has violated the instructions written on the paper is called a spoiled vote or spoil. Spoils are shown to the tally persons and they may argue that a spoil should be included in the count on the basis that it shows a clear preference for one candidate.
At the end of each round, the Returning Officer will announce the results, and whether or not a candidate has been elected. If no candidate is elected, he will announce an elimination and the beginning of a new round.
9 The count will continue until all elections have been counted. The ballot papers will be secured and kept for ten University days, after which they will be recycled.
At the end of a round, a candidate may ask for the votes to be recounted, if he or she thinks that there is a chance that there may have been an error made to his or her disadvantage. Each candidate can ask for one recount without prejudice each round, and for further recounts, it must be shown that there was a significant change in results from the previous count
During the count, there will be at least one Returning Officer supervising and approximately 20 officers and staff (divided across several tables) counting. The officers and staff counting may not have bags, coats, food, drink, paper, or writing implements at the count table.
No one may speak to, or attempt to get the attention of, any person at the count table. Queries, of any nature, should be directed to the officer supervising the count. This rule is in place both to minimise error-causing distractions for the staff and to maintain their impartiality. A person - even a candidate or tally person - who refuses to observe this rule can be asked to leave the count venue.
The results of the election will be posted on the Elections notice board (at most 24 hours after the close of polls).
Anyone wishing to make a complaint regarding the elections must do so before Tuesday 13th March (3 university days after the count).
Declaration of Understanding:
Each candidate must sign this declaration of understanding in the presence of the Returning Officer along with the Chairperson of the Electoral & Appeals Committee and another board member. By signing this declaration you are acknowledging all the information contained within. You as the candidate are fully aware of the rules and regulations set forth and understand the penalties for any breach you or your campaign team might incur.
I ___________________ (Candidate) acknowledge and understand the regulations of the election procedure set forth in this handbook. I understand the obligations that I must adhere to and I am fully aware of the penalties involved in such breaches of policy or rules that I individually or my campaign team might incur.
___________________ Returning Officer
_______________________ Chairperson of Electoral & Appeals Committee
Date: / /2011 (To be Retained by the Returning Officer)