Student returning officers & campaign points


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Presentation given at WIDAR (Workers in Democracy & Representation) conference 2013. An outline of how Sussex has moved to appointing a student as their Returning Officer and their campaign points system for candidates' publicity materials

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  • Lots of experience – good reminder that our students are amazing
  • Particularly with important things like elections
  • TransparencyTrainingSupport from experienced Deputy Returning Officer
  • Can vary for election
  • Can vary for election
  • Can change for different elections to encourage/discourage thingse.g. restrict number of points on paper itemse.g. ban postersCan use to prompt innovation
  • Can vary for election
  • Can vary for election
  • Can vary for election
  • Can vary for election
  • Can vary for election
  • Student returning officers & campaign points

    1. 1. Student Returning Officers & campaign points Jo Walters @jowalters Membership Engagement Coordinator Sussex Students‟ Union
    2. 2. How we learned to stop worrying and trust students
    3. 3. A quick poll: Who is your Returning Officer?
    4. 4. The role of the Returning Officer at Sussex
    5. 5. Returning Officers at Sussex: A brief history
    6. 6. Returning Officer: Student volunteer Deputy: Union Staff member The furthest back Jo can remember (at least 2004ish)
    7. 7. Returning Officer: Full-time Officer Deputy: Union Staff member From 2006ish
    8. 8. Returning Officer: NUS Deputy: Union Staff member One set of elections in 2012
    9. 9. New for 2013: Recruit a student to be our Returning Officer
    10. 10. Local knowledge & experience Regularly available Focused on the role We love students Why?
    11. 11. A risky move Impartiality Quality & quantity of candidates New = scary
    12. 12. Ensure the Union‟s elections are run fairly and in accordance with the election rules Ensure candidates are aware of the election rules Answer candidates’ queries about the rules Decide upon and impose sanctions if the elections rules are breached Respond to any complaints about the conduct of the elections Write an elections report for the Union‟s Executive Committee, Council and Trustee Board Job description Want the full thing? Email me and I‟ll send it over –
    13. 13. Essential requirements 1. To be a fully registered University of Sussex or BSMS student 2. To be a proactive self-starter and work under your own initiative 3. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills 4. The ability to act impartially 5. An excellent understanding of the principles underpinning the elections rules and to make judgements accordingly 6. The ability to appropriately challenge behaviour not in keeping with the rules 7. A strong understanding of and commitment to the democratic nature of the Students‟ Union Desirable requirements 1. Experience of working (paid or unpaid) in a similar role e.g. a sports referee 2. Knowledge of University of Sussex Students‟ Union‟s democratic processes Person specification Want the full thing? Email me and I‟ll send it over –
    14. 14. “Most importantly the Returning Officer must be impartial – so you must not be a supporter of any candidate, be part of any candidate‟s campaign team or give any view at all, publicly or privately, as to who you would or wouldn‟t like to win.” Recruitment
    15. 15. We interviewed six candidates and recruited Gabriel Recruitment
    16. 16. New = scary
    17. 17. New + preparation = excitement & unexpected awesome
    18. 18. Focused only on elections Fresh perspective More independent Advantages
    19. 19. Costs more Recruitment takes up time Risk of an unsuitable appointment Disadvantages
    20. 20. Costs more Recruitment takes up time Risk of an unsuitable appointment Disadvantages The biggest disadvantage
    21. 21. Strong recruitment Transparency Training Support from Deputy Returning Officer Have a Plan B Key tips
    22. 22. Boosting the Returning Officer’s power
    23. 23. Warnings Removal from the election Typical sanctions
    24. 24. Warnings Increase naughty candidates‟ competitors‟ scope for publicity Reduce naughty candidates‟ scope for publicity Removal from the election Our sanctions
    25. 25. Candidates are allocated a number of points Our points system
    26. 26. Points mean prizes
    27. 27. Let‟s play with a real example Points values
    28. 28. The Returning Officer giveth points and the Returning Officer taketh away points
    29. 29. Easy to tweak to encourage/discourage things Aims for fairness Aims to limit spending Relies on trust Advantages
    30. 30. Weird to explain „How many points for a ______ ?‟ Relies on trust Disadvantages
    31. 31. Any questions?
    32. 32. @jowalters