NUS is run by its members and elections have an important role in this, being used to elect our political leadership. These rules set out how we run elections and cover what voters and candidates should expect when participating in elections. These rules are based on the following core principles:
- We aim to elect people in a free and fair manner
- Elections are the mechanism for our members to choose their representatives
- Wherever possible the electorate should always decide/be the decision makers
- We are not here to give everyone an equal chance of winning, just a fair one.
To Sumbit an election complaint please read these rules and fill out the form here
Who’s who in elections
Each election is assigned a Returning Officer who is responsible for overseeing the election. This includes confirming nominations and deciding on candidate eligibility, making rulings on complaints and overseeing the count. The Returning Officer is the first point of contact for each election.
You may also see mention of a Deputy Returning Officer. This person is responsible for the practical running of all of NUS’ elections, assigning Returning Officers to particular elections and providing them with advice. The Deputy Returning Officer may also oversee particular elections.
There is also a Chief Returning Officer who is responsible for setting these rules, interpreting articles and conduct of elections as a whole. The Chief Returning Officer does not act as a Returning Officer in elections, or get involved in any of the day to day running of elections. Instead they act as an independent source of appeal with the power to make final rulings on any elections matter.
The Chief Returning Officer has set out the following rules for the Conference. It should be noted that these rules are the property of the Chief Returning Officer and their designates and they alone will be the interpreter of them.
Candidates shall be responsible for the actions of their campaign teams. Candidates must take reasonable steps to ensure that their supporters' actions comply with the campaign rules at all times, and must be able to demonstrate this in the event of a complaint against them.
- must treat other candidates, students and members of the public with respect.
- should not undertake campaigns activity which others could not also reasonably do.
- campaigns should be fully transparent and accountable to NUS.
- must not do anything to gain an unfair advantage.
- must not undermine the fair and democratic running of elections.
- 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. Every electronic device will be deemed a ballot box.
- must not break the law, venue specific regulations or general NUS policy including Code of Conduct, Social Media Policy and Staff Protocol
- must have a commitment to anti-racism including tackling Islamophobia (as per the APPG Definition) and Antisemitism (as per the IHRA definition)
- candidates may only undertake campaigning activities within designated spaces at conferences
- may only alter, move or remove their own campaign materials.
- may only use mailing lists where lawful to do so. In most cases, this will require the consent of the members on the list to use their details.
- Candidates must not exceed their budget limits. These are:
Full-time officer roles: £400
All other roles: £150
- All candidates must submit a written list of all campaign costs, with corresponding receipts to the Returning Officer no later than 1 hour after polls close. If candidates do not spend any money during the course of their campaign this must be made clear on the submission.
- Items freely and readily available to all candidates can be used without itemisation.
- NUS will not reimburse campaign expenses
The Elections Process
Becoming a Candidate
There are three stages to becoming a candidate in an NUS election. These are: determining eligibility, gathering information, submitting your application.
- Find out if you are eligible
To be eligible to stand as an election candidate you must be a current student or sabbatical officer at a Students’ Union which is an affiliated member of NUS at the time of the election. If you are a member of an NUS committee, your membership of this committee does not grant eligibility to stand in its own right – you need to be a current student or sabbatical officer in an affiliated union. NUS full-time officers are only eligible to stand for the position of NUS President.
In addition, for certain roles there are additional eligibility criteria which you must meet. These criteria can be found in the list of current live elections at (weblink)
For full-time officer roles, you must also be nominated by other students. You must receive nominations from students or sabbatical officers in different students’ unions (one can be from your SU). The number of nominations required will be made available with candidate information.
- Tell the voters about yourself
We also ask that you prepare information for your candidacy to be submitted when you stand.
- A head and shoulders photograph
- A 100 word candidate statement
- Links to social media accounts
None of the above information is mandatory, it is however beneficial to your candidacy that you submit this. You will need to submit this by the deadline for submitting your candidate application. We cannot guarantee to include any information received after the deadline
We will also ask you for a manifesto, however we’ll ask for this after discussing it at the candidates' briefing.
- Submit your application
You must do this using our online form by the stated deadline. A link to the form and candidacy deadlines can be found here.
Any applications made after the deadline will not be considered. You should allow plenty of time to account for any technical issues. Once your candidacy application has been submitted you will receive an automatic email. If you do not receive this email, you must let us know before the deadline.
On the form, you will be asked for the following information: We advise you gather this together in advance of submitting your application
- Your name and contact details
- Proof of your student status (this can include a current student card showing your dates of study, a letter from your University or students’ union confirming student status).
- Details of your nominators (if applicable)
- Supporting information, e.g. photo and manifesto
- You will also be asked to declare that you have read and understood these rules and will make your campaign team aware of them.
After the deadline for application the Returning Officer will review your application. If we need further information we’ll ask you to provide this in a specified timeframe. The Returning Officer will then let you know if you have met the eligibility criteria and are accepted as a candidate. We will then announce the candidates for election. Once this is done, campaigning can begin.
For each election there will be a campaigning period where you can get your message out to voters. Please see below the core rules and guiding principles which all candidates must adhere by. In addition to your campaigning activities, the Returning Officer will let you know about opportunities to get your message out to voters. These may include:
- Information about candidates on the NUS Connect website and social media
- Hustings – either online or in person
- Opportunities for voters to pose questions to candidates
- Speeches at the Conference that elects the position
The Returning Officer will communicate to candidates ahead of the election what election activities will be taking place.
Ballots open in advance of conferences and dates of opening of voting are available here.
For each election, the Chief Returning Officer will announce the method of voting. Voting will be by secret ballot, and shall be conducted either in electronic format or, in certain circumstances, in paper format. Ballots will display the chosen names of the candidates and the position they are standing for. Online voting will also display manifesto information and pictures (where supplied by the candidate).
Each election is voted on by conference delegates. Ballots will be issued to each delegate of the conference who has been registered online by the stated deadline. For electronic votes, a link will be sent to the email address for each delegate – we strongly advise voters to check their emails and find their voting links well in advance of close of voting.
Any technical issues with voting links must be reported to email@example.com in advance of close of voting. Whilst every effort will be made to rectify issues, we may not have time to do this.
Elections with one position will take place via Alternative Vote; elections with more than one position will use Single Transferable Vote.
The Chief Returning Officer will arrange for the count to occur either at the conference or within one week of the close of polling. The count will take place in either at the conference venue or in an NUS office. Count sheets will be published on NUS Connect after the count has taken place.
Candidates may send one observer to the count for their election but cannot attend the election count themselves. Candidates must inform the Returning Officer of their nominated Observer in advance of the count by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For counts taking place after a conference, observers will be invited to observe via videolink. Candidates should include contact details of their observer including email address so the video link can be sent to the observer.
Observers of the count will be briefed by the Returning Officer overseeing the count on the running of the count and observer conduct. Observers may view the proceedings of the count and raise any issues or requests for clarification with the Returning Officer overseeing the count. They must not impede the Returning Officer or NUS Staff in conducting the business of the Count.
Announcing the Result
Election results will be announced by the Returning Officer at the conference which elects the positions (if the count has taken place by then). Results will be published on NUS Connect with count sheets available after the count.
Making a Complaint
If a student believes that a candidate or their campaign team is in breach of the rules they may submit a complaint. All complaints should contain the following information:
- Which of the guiding principles the candidate is alleged to have breached
- Information about the nature of the complaint, including where relevant, dates, times and locations
- An idea of what the complainant wants to happen as a result of the complaint
- Supporting evidence to back up the complaint
All complaints must be submitted using the online form with relevant evidence. This can be found here.
If there are any issues with the online form please contact email@example.com
The Returning Officer will investigate the complaint and determine whether it will be upheld. If upheld, possible courses of action can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- A public warning
- Directing candidates to remove election materials/delete social media posts
- Suspending a candidate’s campaigning activities for a given period of time
- In extreme circumstances, the Returning Officer may disqualify a candidate
The deadline for the submission of complaints is one hour after the close of polling.
If a student/candidate is dissatisfied with the outcome of a complaint, they may be able to request the opportunity to appeal. Appeals will be considered by the Chief Returning Officer who acts as an independent point of appeal, having not been involved in the original complaint investigation.
A request for an appeal should be on the following grounds, including but not confined to:
- a review of the procedures followed when considering the original complaint
- a consideration of whether the outcome was reasonable in all the circumstances
- new material evidence which the student was unable, for valid reasons, to provide earlier in the process
The appeal stage will not usually consider the issues afresh or involve a further investigation.
Appeals must be made in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org and must be submitted before the commencement of the election count. Appeals will be considered by the Chief Returning Officer whose decision will be final.