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Regulation 9: Election Regulations: (Staff members elected to the University Senate by Academic Staff and to the University Council by Professional Support Services Staff)

9.1 Status, Approval and Review of the Election Regulations

9.1.1    The election regulations were reviewed in May 2020. Revisions to the election regulations are proposed by the Registrar and Secretary to the Council and the Senate as the approving bodies for these regulations.

9.1.2    The regulations encompass elections to the Council and the Senate for University-level elections of staff members to these two bodies (i.e. where the electorate is a substantial body of staff such as the academic staff from a faculty in the case of Senate elections or the entire professional support staff in the case of the Council elections). These regulations do not cover arrangements for elections which are by and from the members of Senate to Council. The requirements in the regulations apply in common to elections held for both the Council and the Senate, unless differences between the election arrangements for each are specified.

9.1.3    There may be occasions when the specific arrangements and timescales identified in these regulations require variation for the benefit of candidates and voters or because certain practical, logistical or technical matters need to be resolved for the smooth running of the election process. In the event of such changes, upholding the fairness of the election process will remain paramount. Notice of any material changes to the election process will be announced to candidates and voters using the University’s main communication channels to announce elections.

9.1.4    A copy of these election regulations shall be published on the University website as a regulation of the University.

9.1.5    The nomination and appointment of members and representatives either from/to the Council, the Senate, their sub-committees or other University committees or groups is out of the scope of these regulations. A separate series of principles has been published for this purpose as a guide for colleagues managing such nomination and appointment arrangements.

9.2        Principles and Definitions

9.2.1    Elections to the Council and the Senate are an important part of democratic engagement in the governance of the University. The fairness, equity, impartiality and transparency of the election process in line with those eligible to stand and vote for election is paramount at all times, as reflected in the election arrangements and the conduct of candidates and voters.

9.2.2    As required under University Statute 11.1.c there shall be two members of the professional support staff (non-academic staff) elected to the Council. The staff elected shall be members for a term of three years starting on the first day of August in the year in which they are elected (or on a later date if the Council has made a decision to adjust the normal election timetable) and shall not be eligible for re-election until one year has elapsed from the end of their term of office.

9.2.3    As approved by Senate and Council a variation shall be applied to University Statute 12.1.h for up to 18 members of the permanent and fixed-term academic staff elected to serve on the Senate (with no distinction between the permanent and fixed-term categories). The 18 positions shall be divided equally between the three faculties, i.e. six elected members from each faculty. The staff elected shall be members of the Senate for a term of three years starting on the first day of August in the year in which they are elected (or on a later date if the Senate has made a decision to adjust the normal election timetable) and shall not be eligible for re-election until one year has elapsed from the end of their term of office.

9.3           Returning Officer

9.3.1    The Returning Officer for elections to both the Council and the Senate will be the Head of Governance and Assurance acting on behalf of the Registrar and Secretary in their statutory capacity as Secretary to both the Council and the Senate.

 

9.3.2    The Returning Officer is responsible for the administration and good conduct of elections and has the sole right to interpret the meaning of the election regulations and ensuring that the elections are run in accordance with these.

9.3.3    The Returning Officer will appoint a Deputy Returning Officer based in the Governance and Assurance Office to manage the day-to-day running of the election.

9.3.4    The ruling of the Returning Officer can only be challenged by an appeal to the Vice-Chancellor or the Registrar and Secretary, in line with Section 9.11 of these regulations.

 

9.4 Eligibility to Stand and Vote

9.4.1    Staff meeting the following criteria shall be eligible to vote in and stand for election:

           Election of members to Senate from the University’s Academic Staff

a)    All members of permanent and fixed-term academic staff appointed to full- or part-time posts, in post and having commenced employment no later than the start of the election period. This definition of academic staff includes those on the following academic contracts: SM (Senior Management), TR (Teaching & Research), RL (Research Only) and TS (Teaching & Scholarship).

b)    Academic Staff holding honorary titles of the University (including Emeritus Professor, Emeritus Reader, Honorary Professor, Honorary Fellow, Honorary Visiting Professor or Honorary Visiting Fellow) are not eligible to stand for or vote in the election.

           Election of members to Council from the University’s Professional Support Services Staff

c)    All members of professional support services staff appointed to full-time or part-time posts on either a permanent or fixed-term contract (including temporarily varied hours or an unpaid career break) are entitled to stand and vote in this election, provided that they are in post and having commenced employment no later than the start of the election process as set out in this Regulation.

9.5        Timing of Elections

9.5.1     The Returning Officer shall ensure that elections take place near to the end of the current term of office of the incumbent member(s), seeking to avoid an extended period where there are vacancies in the position(s) in question. 

9.5.2     The election timetable shall be made available to all eligible staff at the commencement of the election period using the University’s main communication channels to announce elections.

9.6        Nominations procedure

9.6.1     Notice of the election and a call for nominations will be made to all eligible staff no less than four weeks before the commencement of the voting period using the University’s main communication channels to announce elections. In the case of the professional support services staff election to Council, the notice of election and call for nominations will be circulated in hardcopy to those support staff identified in the HR staff database as not being computer users (i.e. do not have an IT Services username/email address).

9.6.2      The notice will include a link to further details relating to the election on the University website and will invite nominations from those wishing to stand as candidates. In the case of the Senate election, the notice will also specify the number of elected members required to maintain equal balance across the three faculties.

9.6.3      The nomination period will last four weeks and those seeking to stand for election will be required to submit a downloadable nomination form by the final deadline given. The nomination form will require completion of a personal statement of no more than 300 words in support of the candidacy, seconded by one other person eligible to vote in the election. The supporting statement should be restricted to specifying why the candidate considers themselves suitable for election in the context of the role and remit of the body in question and the generic role description for its members as published on the University website.

9.6.4       Completed nomination forms must be submitted to the Returning Officer via email no later than midday on the final day of the published nomination period.

9.7         Voting Period and Campaign

9.7.1      Ahead of the voting period, candidates standing for election will be asked to confirm that they have read and understood the election regulations and will have an opportunity in the intervening period between the close of nominations and the start of voting to clarify any matters with the Returning Officer or Assistant Returning Officer.

9.7.2      The voting period shall last for four weeks to ensure that all members of the electorate have reasonable access and opportunity to vote by the required deadlines, no matter their location or contracted working hours.

9.7.3      On the start-date of the election period a list of the nominated candidates shall be circulated to all those entitled to vote using the University’s main communication channels to announce elections. In the case of the support staff election to Council, the ballot paper will be circulated in hardcopy to those support staff identified in the HR staff database as not being computer users (i.e. do not have an IT Services user-name/email address). Eligible staff may vote for as many candidates as will be required to fill the forthcoming vacancies for members and, in the case of the Senate election, to maintain equal balance across the three faculties. Academic staff voting in the Senate election can vote for candidates from all three Faculties (i.e. not just their own Faculty).

9.7.4    If the number of candidates nominated for election is lower than or equal to the number of vacancies, no election will be required and those nominated shall be declared elected unopposed.

9.7.5    Candidates are not allowed to use the branding, identity or endorsement of any representative or membership group, society or body, including recognised trade unions, at any stage during the Senate or Council elections, or to state or imply that they are standing for election on behalf of any such group, society or body.  The Returning Officer reserves the right to withdraw or amend of any election statements or other material during the course of the election which breaches the terms of this paragraph.

9.7.6    Candidates are expected to act in a responsible, ethical and collegial way at all times during the election and are prohibited from making any explicit or implied references to other candidates as part of their campaigning which may reasonably be deemed to discredit or undermine the credibility of other candidates. Candidates are expected to ensure, as far as is reasonable, that any individuals or groups who are to be judged as supporting or representing them also abide by these principles.

9.7.7    In the course of the campaign candidates may choose to communicate with the electorate through reasonable and proportionate means and channels, including election statements, posters, flyers, email, personal (not University or departmental) social media accounts, and meetings in line with normal room-booking and events procedures, providing that these do not cause an obstruction/damage or breach health and safety, public order, freedom of speech or environmental regulations.

9.7.8    Any perceived or actual breaches of the election regulations by candidates, or those reasonably judged to be acting on a candidate’s behalf during the voting and campaign period, should be brought to the attention of the Returning Officer sufficiently ahead of the conclusion of the election period. The Returning Officer will investigate and suspend the election process, should this be required, in order to satisfactorily resolve a potential or known breach of the regulations.

 9.7.9 A breach of the election regulations may result in a sanction for a candidate, including direction to amend, modify or remove material used for campaigning purposes during the election period or in extreme cases disqualification from the election for wilful breaching of the regulations in a manner reasonably judged by the Returning Officer to undermine the integrity of the election process, including giving undue advantage to their own candidacy or undermining that of others. A disqualification decision would be made on the recommendation of the Returning Officer to the Registrar and Secretary.

 

 9.8 Ballot Procedure and Count

9.8.1    The candidates for whom the greatest number of votes have been cast after the voting period has closed will be declared elected to fill the forthcoming vacancies up to the number specified in the original notice of election. If any two or more candidates receive an equal number of votes, the Vice-Chancellor as Chair of the Senate or the Chair of Council will give such casting votes as may be necessary to decide who will become staff members of the Senate and the Council respectively.

9.8.2    Determining the outcome of the election will involve the downloading and checking by the Returning Officer of online data from the University’s online voting system in combination with any physical ballot papers returned during the election.

9.9       Results

9.9.1    When the count has been concluded and an outcome determined, the results of an election will be declared by the Returning Officer using the University’s main communication channels to report on elections, normally within two working days following the advertised voting deadline. Further University-wide announcements may also be used with the prior approval and clearance of the Internal Communications team, including the University website and/or the Staff Digest newsletter.

9.9.2    Any complaint that has not been resolved, or has been elevated to an appeal shall delay the declaration of the result until the complaint/appeal in question has been resolved (see Section 9.10 below).

9.9.3     Any casual vacancy occurring during the academic year shall automatically be filled by the person with the next highest number of votes after the members elected at the previous election, except that in the case of a vacancy arising on a date less than three months before the next election, the vacancy shall be filled at that election. If the previous second-placed candidate has left the University or no longer wishes to become a member, the vacancy shall be filled by the person with the next highest number of votes after that person. If no previous candidates wish to become a member, the casual vacancy will be filled at the next election.

9.10        Complaints

9.10.1   Complaints during the course of the election should be submitted to the Returning Officer and may fall into two categories:

(i) against a candidate or anyone reasonably judged to be representing or supporting a candidate;

(ii) against the administration and good conduct of the election.

9.10.2   Evidence, including supporting statements and witness accounts, should be submitted to the Returning Officer with the complaint, which should specify clearly which aspect of the regulations have allegedly been breached.

9.10.3   In determining a resolution to a complaint, if the Returning Officer is satisfied that the complaint be upheld after hearing the evidence they may:

(i) suspend an election;

(ii) recommend changes to the election process (including the timetable) or to the campaigning activities/material produced by candidates;

(iii) in extreme circumstances, disqualify a candidate or candidates;

9.10.4     Complaints which are brought to light after the declaration of an election outcome will be considered by the Returning Officer in cases where there appears to be a serious and substantial basis for the integrity or good conduct of the election process to have been undermined. In exceptional circumstances, this may require the re-running of an election. In deciding whether an election should be re-run the Returning Officer will consider quantitative factors (e.g. the number of votes affected) as well as qualitative criteria (e.g. the effect on the outcome). As a general rule, for an election to be re-run the irregularities identified must be of a magnitude that affects the result and impossible to rectify by other means.

9.10.5     The ruling of the Returning Officer is final. However, there shall be a right of appeal by a complainant if they believe the Returning Officer has acted in an improper, biased or partisan manner (see Section 9.11 below).

 9.11 Appeal

9.11.1       In the event that a complaint made under Section 10 is not upheld by the Returning Officer, there shall be a right of appeal as follows:

(i) to the Vice-Chancellor for appeals relating to elections to the Senate;

(ii) to the Registrar and Secretary for appeals relating to elections to the Council.

9.11.2       In the case of appeals to the Vice Chancellor, a member of the University Executive Board will be appointed as soon as possible to review the appeal, ensuring that no conflicts of interest exist between the appointed reviewer and any of the candidates.

9.11.3       An appeal to the Registrar and Secretary will be conducted by the role-holder or a designated nominee (other than the Returning Officer or Deputy Returning Officer).

9.11.4       The appeal will take account of relevant factors, including whether the Returning

Officer’s decision was:

(i)   compliant with, or reasonable in, its interpretation of the election regulations;

(ii)  based on the full set of evidence submitted;

(iii) fair, proper and impartial.

9.11.5  The decision of the Vice-Chancellor or Registrar and Secretary, as appropriate for the appeal route, will be final.

9.12 Election of undergraduate and postgraduate student members to Senate

9.12.1       It is the responsibility of the Students’ Union (YUSU) to ensure that one undergraduate student from each faculty is fairly elected each academic year. These faculty representatives will be elected by and from the students within each faculty. On completion of the electoral process the YUSU President (or nominated sabbatical officer or staff member) will inform the Registrar and Secretary of the names and contact details of the newly elected undergraduate faculty representatives.

9.12.2       It will be the responsibility of the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) to ensure one postgraduate student is fairly elected each academic year. This graduate representative will be elected by and from the elected members of the Council of the GSA. On completion of the electoral process the GSA President (or nominated sabbatical officer or staff member) will inform the Registrar and Secretary of the name and contact details of the newly elected graduate representative.

9.13 Resignation of Elected Members

9.13.1       Any elected member of the Council or the Senate may resign at any time in writing addressed to the Registrar and Secretary and the resulting vacancy shall be filled in accordance with these regulations

Regulations