Conduct of Council Election Procedure

Policy Procedures Conduct of Council Election Procedure

Conduct of Council Election Procedure


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Intent

The James Cook University Act 1997 (the Act), establishes a governing body, Council, with Membership Classes including the Elected Members class and prescribes that the Council must make a policy about the conduct of elections required under the Act.

The intent of this procedure is to provide guidance to those members of staff responsible for the conduct of Council elections and to outline procedures to assist in the implementation of the provisions contained in the Conduct of Council Elections Policy and the requirements of the new Division 3C: Council Elections, within Part 2: The University and its Council, which was introduced into the Act on 13 October 2017 concurrently with the repeal of Statute No. 2 – Conduct of Council Elections. It is also aimed at ensuring the public accessibility of the election policy, the integrity and security of the voting system and the openness and transparency of the election process.

Scope

This procedure applies to the conduct of elections required under sections 22F and 22O of the Act. It does not apply to appointments made by the Council to fill a casual vacancy in accordance with sub-section 22O(2), (4) or (6) of the Act.

The Elected Members consist of the following sub-classes:

(a) members of the academic staff of the University;

(b) members of the professional and technical staff of the University; and

(c) students;

Whilst this procedure applies principally to the returning officer, it also provides guidance to those persons belonging to the sub-classes listed above as well as to those other officers of the University who are engaged in the election processes.

Definitions

See the Conduct of Council Elections Policy

Table of Contents

  1. Procedures determined by returning officer
  2. Dates and times applying to elections
  3. Electoral rolls
  4. Notice of election
  5. Nominations
  6. Determination of the requirement for a ballot
  7. Appointment of Scrutineers
  8. Determination of the order of candidates on ballot paper
  9. Voting procedure
  10. Scrutiny of ballot papers and recording of votes
  11. Determination of result of election
  12. Declaration and publication of result of election
  13. Retention and disposal of election records
  14. Making and Resolving Complaints
  15. Management of Changes to Procedure

Procedure

1. Procedures determined by returning officer

The returning officer must determine the procedures for each Council election required to be conducted under the Act, including the following matters -

  • (a) the requirements for providing eligible electors with access to a ballot paper;
  • (b) the procedures for the return of a postal ballot paper by eligible electors;
  • (c) the requirements for the provision of supporting statements by candidates;
  • (d) the procedures for verifying that votes are cast only by those electors eligible to vote in the relevant election;
  • (e) the procedures for ensuring that the ballot is secret;
  • (f) the procedures for publishing the election result;
  • (g) any additional procedures for undertaking ballots by electronic means.

2. Dates and times applying to elections

1.   When determining the dates and times applying to elections, the returning officer should give consideration to the following:

  • (a) the manner in which the election is to be conducted; and
  • (b) the availability of the various membership sub-class constituents to participate in the nomination and voting processes.

2.   The returning officer must determine the:

  • (a) date on, or period over, which an election is to be held; and
  • (b) time and date at which a roll of electors is to be closed; and
  • (c) time and date prescribed for the receipt of nominations; and
  • (d) date prescribed for the issue of postal ballot papers or the activation of electronic voting; and
  • (e) time and date prescribed for the receipt of postal ballot papers and electronic votes; and
  • (f) date prescribed for the counting of votes; and
  • (g) the date by which the results of an election must be published.

3.   When determining the dates and times above, the returning officer must ensure that the period between:

  • (a) the publication of the notice of election and the time; and
  • (b) the date prescribed for the receipt of nominations, be not less than 14 and not more than 21 days.

4.   When determining the dates and times above, the returning officer must ensure that the period between:

  • (a) the date prescribed for the issue of ballot papers or the activation of electronic voting; and
  • (b) the time and date by which ballot papers must reach the returning officer or the electronic votes must be submitted and received,
  • (c) must be not less than 14 and not more than 21 days.

3. Electoral rolls

  1. The returning officer must prepare and maintain a roll of electors, for each Council election required to be conducted under the Act and which contains the full name and current mailing address for each of the persons who are:
    • (a) members of the University’s academic staff;
    • (b) members of the University’s professional and technical staff; and
    • (c) students.
  2. The rolls must be kept in such form as the returning officer sees fit.
  3. The returning officer may approve additions to or deletions from a roll of electors if the returning officer deems that an elector has been inadvertently omitted from, or incorrectly included on, that roll.

4. Notice of election

1.   The returning officer, in addition to publishing a notice of election on the University’s website, must communicate that notice through appropriate communication and social media platforms.

2.   The notice of election must:

  • (a) identify the membership class under section 22F(1) of the Act for which the election is being conducted; and
  • (b) identify the election ballot under section 22F(1) of the Act for which the election is being conducted; and
  • (c) identify the number of positions to be filled; and
  • (d) specify the manner in which the election is to be conducted; and
  • (e) specify the term of office for which the elected member is to be elected in accordance with section 22F(3) of the Act; and
  • (f) call for nominations; and
  • (g) specify the procedure for nominating candidates; and
  • (h) specify the time and date prescribed for the receipt of nominations; and
  • (i) specify, in case a ballot is required, the date on or period over which an election is to be held; and
  • (j) be published on the University website.

5. Nominations

  1. Nominations of an eligible nominee must:
    • (a) be made by a minimum of three persons listed on the relevant roll of electors; and
    • (b) be endorsed with the written consent of the nominee; and
    • (c) reach the returning officer by the time and date prescribed for the receipt of nominations.
  2. Each eligible nominee must have a separate nomination.
  3. After the time and date prescribed for the receipt of nominations, a nomination may only be withdrawn or accepted with the consent of the returning officer.
  4. An incomplete Nomination received prior to the time and date prescribed for the receipt of nominations will only be accepted where the outstanding requirements have been met and at the sole discretion of the returning officer.

6. Determination of the requirement for a ballot

1.   The returning officer, after determining the valid nominations, must take appropriate action to either:

  • (a) declare the nominated candidates duly elected without conducting a ballot; and/or
  • (b) notify the Minister of the failure to elect enough elected members; or
  • (c) conduct a ballot under the Policy and Procedure;

2.   If, after the close of nominations, there are no nominations, the returning officer must notify the Minister of the failure to elect elected members, in order for the Minister to take action under section 22P of the Act.

3.   If, after the close of nominations, the number of candidates is less than the number of positions to be filled, the returning officer:

  • (a) may declare the nominated candidates duly elected in accordance with section 7 of the Policy without conducting a ballot; and
  • (b) must notify the Minister of the failure to elect enough elected members, in order for the Minister to take action under section 22P of the Act.

4.   If, after the close of nominations, the number of candidates equals the number of positions to be filled, the returning officer may declare the nominated candidates duly elected under section 7 of the Policy without conducting a ballot.

5.   If, after the close of nominations, the number of candidates exceeds the number of positions to be filled, the returning officer must conduct a ballot under the Policy and this Procedure.

7.  Appointment of scrutineers

For each election, the Chancellor must appoint two persons to be scrutineers.

8.  Determination of the order of candidates on ballot paper

The ballot paper must –

(a) list the names of the candidates in an order drawn by lot conducted by the returning officer; and

(b) be in a form which enables an elector to indicate the elector’s preference for a candidate.

9. Voting Procedure

1.   If the returning officer determines that a ballot is required then a Notice of Ballot, Ballot Paper, information about the manner in which a vote must be submitted and other appropriate information must be provided by the returning officer in accordance with the provisions of this Procedure.

2.   In relation to the conduct of an electronic ballot, on the date prescribed for the activation of electronic voting, the returning officer must provide to each eligible elector a notice of ballot, via either an electronic mailing address recorded in the electoral roll or by a published notice on the University’s website, stating:

  • (a) the number of candidates to be elected; and
  • (b) the names of the candidates and biographical details, not exceeding one hundred words in length, where supplied by the candidate; and
  • (c) the manner in which the elector must vote; and
  • (d) the time and date prescribed for the receipt of electronic votes ; and
  • (e) access to an electronic voting form; and
  • (f) information about the manner in which a valid electronic vote may be submitted; and
  • (g) such other information as the returning officer deems appropriate.

3.   In relation to the conduct of a postal ballot, on the date prescribed for the activation of postal voting, the returning officer must provide to each eligible elector a notice of ballot, via the elector’s last known mailing address recorded in the electoral roll, which may be printed on the postal ballot paper, stating:

  • (a) the number of candidates to be elected; and
  • (b) the names of the candidates and biographical details, not exceeding one hundred words in length, where supplied by the candidate; and
  • (c) the manner in which the elector must vote; and
  • (d) the time and date prescribed for the receipt of postal votes ; and
  • (e) a ballot paper, sent to the elector’s last known mailing address recorded in the electoral roll; and
  • (f) a declaration containing a space for the elector’s name, address and signature; and
  • (g) a replacement ballot paper where an eligible elector claims, by statutory declaration, that they have not received a ballot paper or that the ballot paper has been lost, destroyed or defaced; and
  • (h) information about the manner in which a valid postal vote may be submitted; and
  • (i) such other information as the returning officer deems appropriate.

4.   Where a Postal Ballot is being conducted, the returning officer may re-issue a ballot paper to an eligible elector who claims, by statutory declaration, that they have not received a ballot paper or that the ballot paper received has been lost, destroyed or defaced.

5.   No further ballot paper may be re-issued to an elector to whom a ballot paper has previously been re-issued.

10. Scrutiny of ballot papers and recording of votes

1.   For a postal ballot, on the day prescribed for the counting of votes and in the presence of the scrutineers, the returning officer must examine the ballot papers and record the number of votes cast for each candidate.

2.   For an electronic ballot, on the day prescribed for the recording of votes stored electronically and in the presence of the scrutineers, the returning officer must examine summary reports of the votes cast and record the total number of votes cast for each candidate.

3.   For a postal ballot, a ballot paper or the votes recorded on it, may be rejected as informal by the returning officer where:

  • (a) the completed ballot paper is not sealed in the envelope provided; or
  • (b) the envelope provided contains material other than, or in addition to, the ballot paper; or
  • (c) the ballot paper is not received by the returning officer by the time and date prescribed for the receipt of postal ballot papers and electronic votes; or
  • (d) the name appearing on the declaration does not appear on the roll of eligible electors; or
  • (e) the ballot paper contains any means by which the name of the elector may be identified; or
  • (f) the ballot paper contains votes for more candidates than the number of positions to be filled; or
  • (g) the ballot paper does not clearly indicate at least one candidate for whom the elector desires to vote; or
  • (h) where, for any other reason, the returning officer, after consulting with the scrutineers, is satisfied that the vote is irregular and should be rejected.

4.   A vote is not informal by reason of the fact that the ballot paper contains votes for fewer candidates than the number of positions to be filled.

5.   If during the course of the conduct of one election (the first election), under the Policy and this Procedure, a candidate becomes elected to the Council because of the result of another Council election, that candidate is deemed to be no longer a candidate for the first election and any votes received or recorded for that candidate for the first election are to be disregarded.

6.   The returning officer may request a re-count of the votes cast.

11. Determination of result of election

1.   After the final recording of votes, the result of the election must be determined in accordance with this procedure.

2.   Subject to step 4, where one member is to be elected, the candidate who received the greatest number of votes must be elected.

3.   Subject to step 4, where two or more members are to be elected, the candidate who received the greatest number of votes and the candidate who received the next greatest number of votes must each be elected, and so on, until all of the available positions are filled.

4.   Where an available position cannot be filled because equal numbers of votes have been cast for candidates for the position, the election of a candidate to the position must be decided by lot, conducted by the returning officer, in the presence of the scrutineers.

12. Declaration and publication of result of election

1.   Following the determination of the result of the election, the returning officer must declare the result of the election by preparing a statement containing:

  • (a) the names of the candidates; and
  • (b) the number of votes received by each candidate; and
  • (c) the basis on which any candidate was elected if other than by voting; and
  • (d) the total number of votes cast and the number of ballot papers ruled informal; and
  • (e) a declaration of the names of the candidates elected.

2.   The statement must be signed by the returning officer and countersigned by the scrutineers.

3.   The returning officer must forward a copy of the statement to the Chancellor, the Vice Chancellor, to each of the candidates in the election and to the Council for noting at its next scheduled meeting.

4.   The returning officer must publish, by the day by which the results must be published (refer Clause 4(1)(g) a declaration of the result of the election in the same manner in which the original notice of election was published under Clause 5 of this Policy.

13. Retention and disposal of election records

After the declaration of the result of an election, the returning officer must hold the postal ballot papers, or electronic records of voting in the case of an electronic ballot, for the period of time required by the Public Records Act 2002, after which time the returning officer must destroy or delete the postal ballot papers or electronic records, as appropriate, unless otherwise directed by the Chancellor.

14. Making and Resolving Complaints

1.   All complaints about the conduct of an election or objections against an election result must be submitted to the returning officer.

2.   Objections against the result of any election must be made within twenty four (24) hours of the declaration of the election.

3.   The returning officer shall consider and investigate any complaint or objection and may:

  • (a) reject a complaint or objection;
  • (b) order a new election in whole or in part;
  • (c) take such other action as deemed appropriate in the circumstances.

4.   The returning officer’s ruling shall be final and binding, subject only to review in a court of law with competent jurisdiction.

5.   Complaints made about the Returning Officer shall be made to the Chancellor.

15. Management of Changes to Procedure

1.   Section 26AA of the Act prescribes that the Policy established about the conduct of Council elections must include certain provisions and procedures. Management of the policy and procedure is in accordance with the University’s Policy and Delegations Framework as approved by Council.

2.   Changes to the Conduct of Council Elections Procedure are approved by the Vice Chancellor as Policy Sponsor.

Related policy instruments

Conduct of Council Elections Policy

Schedules/Appendices

Nil

Administration

NOTE:  Printed copies of this procedure are uncontrolled, and currency can only be assured at the time of printing.

Approval Details

Policy Sponsor

Vice Chancellor

Version no

18-1

Date for next Major Review

December 2020

Revision History

[Use the table below to record information regarding changes to this procedure. Version control should be applied, for example major or minor amendments (approved by the Policy Sponsor) should be numbered 16-1, 16-2 and so on (the first two digits = year, the last digit = version number)].

Approval date - the date the Policy Sponsor approved the establishment, minor or major amendment or disestablishment

Implementation Date - the date the procedure was published in the Policy Library and is the date the procedure takes effect

Version

Approval date

Implementation date

Details

Author

18-1

20/02/2018

21/02/2018

Procedure established

University Secretary

Keywords

Election, Council Election, Election Procedure