Election Rules

RUSU elections are open to all full student members of Reading University Students’ Union. All candidates are entitled to equal opportunities, and the elections should be accessible for all students, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, age or personal financial status.

These rules are binding and apply to all candidates (and campaign teams) running in an election and to all agents (and campaign teams) taking part in a referendum.

The rules are reviewed and implemented by the RUSU Elections Committee.

COVID-19

RUSU Elections Committee review the Election Rules and associated guideline with the aim to hold fair election whilst ensuring that;

  • The health and safety of our student members, candidates and staff is considered throughout all election activities
  • Our candidates have fair and equal access to candidates’ meetings, training and support throughout the election
  • Our candidates have fair and equal access to the electorate throughout the voting period
  • Our candidates, student members and staff uphold government guidelines and law relating to COVID-19 and do not put themselves and others at risk whilst carrying out activities relating to the election

RUSU Elections Committee are working to current COVID-19 guidelines and the following in-person election activities are now permitted:

  • In-person election campaigning activities, such as, face-to-face campaigning, handing out election campaigning materials
  • In person candidate meetings and training sessions
  • In-person polling stations
  • In-person question time event (hustings) and results event

We will encourage our election candidates to wear facemasks when they are interacting with people who they wouldn’t normally interact with.

We ask that candidates undertake lateral flow tests in advance of attending election events and undertaking campaign activities.

Candidates who test positive should isolate as per current government guidelines and inform the Elections Committee via email. 

We will continue to review the situation (and undertake necessary risk assessments) throughout the election period(s) and changes may be made should government guidelines change. The election will continue as planned.

1. Important to remember

All students and their campaign teams are expected to abide by:

  • RUSU policy
  • University rules and Codes of Conduct
  • The Law

Failure to adhere to these may result in disciplinary action.

2. The Elections Committee

The Elections Committee will be comprised of the following:

  • The Returning Officer (an NUS staff member)
  • The Deputy Returning Officer (RUSU Chief Executive or their deputy)
  • The Chair (RUSU President) or alternate Officer Trustee (who is not a candidate in the election)
  • Another RUSU Officer Trustee (who is not a candidate in the election).

In the event that all Officer Trustees choose to stand in the election/ act as either an agent or a member of a campaign team in the referendum, then the Officer Trustee positions on the Elections Committee will be formed of Student Trustees.

The Elections Committee will be responsible for:

  • Writing and updating the Election & Referenda Rules and associated guidelines
  • Agreeing RUSU elections and referendum timetable
  • Administering and promoting all RUSU elections and referendum
  • Responding to complaints and any issues relating to rules and conduct
  • Overseeing the work of the Elections Group

3. Election & referenda rules

All candidates/agents (and their campaign teams):

  • Will abide by the Election & Referenda Rules as set out in this document, and those set out in the Election key dates document, budget and other guidelines as produced by the Elections Committee.
  • Will act in the interests of a fair election/ referendum.
  • Will act with integrity and not mislead the electorate.
  • Will show respect and consideration at all times to the other candidates, their supporters, all other students, all staff and members of the community.
  • Will be held liable for the actions of their campaign team or anyone else acting on their behalf.

4. Eligibility to stand for election (or participate as a member of a campaign team)

  • All candidates/agents (and their campaign teams) must be full members of RUSU as defined by the RUSU Memorandum and Articles of Association..
  • All candidates must be a full member for the duration of their elected time in office (with the exception of Officer Trustee Candidates)
  • Nominees who have been subject to a University or RUSU disciplinary procedure should highlight this to the Elections Committee. Approval to run may be subject to the decision of this committee.

5. Statements/Manifestos

A member of the Elections Committee will be responsible for scrutinising and approving the statements/ manifestos to ensure that they comply with the Election and referenda Rules.

The Deputy Returning Officer may request the candidate/agent to make appropriate amendments if they deem it necessary.

6. Campaigning

Covid-19 continues present challenges for us all. During this time more than ever it is important to have contingency plans in place to ensure we can keep everyone safe. 

We encourage candidates to build a strong campaign team around them, and develop plans to campaign on-line in addition to in-person campaigning in order to ensure that your campaign can continue, in the event that you contract Covid-19.

We encourage all candidates/agents (and their campaign teams) to wear facemasks when they are interacting with people who they wouldn’t normally interact with.

The Elections Committee may define additional campaign-free zones. There will be at least a two metre campaign-free zone around any RUSU polling station. Candidates cannot enter these campaign-free zones.

Campaigning is not permitted in the Library or other designated quiet study areas.

All candidates/agents (and their campaign teams) should also abide by the following;

  • Only campaign or use campaigning materials from the campaigning start date published in the relevant election/referenda key dates.
  • Only positively promote the candidate and what they want to achieve in their position.
  • Not negatively campaign, e.g. being offensive or derogatory about the competition, or making attacks of a personal nature against another candidate, their manifestos or members of their campaign team.
  • Abide by Budget & Expenses Guidelines.
  • Abide by Printing & Publicity Guidelines.

To ensure equal opportunities, all candidates/agents have the right to the same access to the electorate:

  • If you are involved in any RUSU club, society, volunteering or media stream, and wish to use this to promote your campaign, you must grant equal access to other candidates involved in your election
  • RUSU clubs, societies, volunteering or media streams may not endorse candidates through their social media or through any other means.
  • University and RUSU staff may not endorse any candidates/agents.
  • Candidates may not endorse other candidates.

Election Activity during UCU Industrial Action 

The University have received formal notification that the University and College Union (UCU) is asking its members to take seven days of strike action from Monday 14 February to Tuesday 22 February.

Our referendum in the autumn provided us with a neutral stance on the ongoing industrial action. Our election activities will continue as planned. We understand that our members, may hold differing opinions on the strikes.  Some candidates may not wish to cross the picket line. In this instance, we encourage candidates to consider what activities they can do online, and where in-person activity is essential, ask a member of their campaigns team to undertake the activity on their behalf.

7. Using Social Media

All candidates/agents (and their campaign teams) should adhere to guidelines on using social media/email (as detailed in the Printing & Publicity Guideline) and those given below:

  • Candidates may set up Facebook pages. The Chair of Elections Committee must be added to these.
  • Candidates/agents should NOT use dating platforms, such as, but not limited to, bumbledate, tinder, etc., as part of their election campaign or to canvass votes.
  • No activity group should give preferential treatment to specific candidate/agent. For example, if a candidate/agent were to post in a group and another candidate/agent also wishes to post in that group, the group administrators must not favour one candidate/agent over another.
  • Candidates/agents may not use mailing lists.
  • No endorsement of other candidates may take place online.

8. Breach of rules

The Elections Committee will use these rules as a guideline in the case of enquiries and complaints and will come to a decision.

Any breach of the rules may be punished. Sanctions could include but not limited to:

  • An informal warning- verbally or in writing
  • A formal warning, which may or may not be made public to the electorate
  • A ban on campaigning, for a defined period
  • Total disqualification

Decisions made by the elections committee are not subject to appeal.

In the case of total disqualification, the Returning Officer’s decision will be final.

9. Complaints

All complaints must be sent to elections@rusu.co.uk.

Complaints should be made as soon as the issue arises and should not generally be raised at a later date.

All complaints must be made before the deadline set in the election/ referendum timetable which shall be scheduled before the count.

Complaints received after the deadline may not be considered or acted upon.