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Elections procedure

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Section 1 - Preamble

(1) This Procedure is effective from 9 December 2020.

(2) This Procedure is pursuant to Regulation 7.1(1) - Elections and Council Regulations.

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Section 2 - Purpose

(3) This Procedure explains how the University conducts elections and sets down rules for proper conduct in campaigning.

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Section 3 - Scope

(4) This Procedure applies throughout the University to elections among staff and students to University bodies, including the University Council, Academic Board, Faculty Boards and the UniSuper Consultative Committee. It does not apply to elections for the Deakin University Student Association (DUSA) which has its own election procedure.

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Section 4 - Policy

(5) The University conducts elections with fairness and integrity and in accordance with the University’s values of being ethical and inclusive. High levels of participation and good election practices support the University’s inclusive culture and objective for diversity of membership on University bodies.

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Section 5 - Procedure

Returning Officers

(6) In accordance with Regulation 7.1(1) - Elections Returning Officers conduct elections for University bodies as delegates of the Vice-Chancellor as follows:

  1. University Council and UniSuper Consultative Committee – Council Secretary
  2. Academic Board – Secretary Academic Board
  3. Faculty Boards – Secretary of the relevant Faculty Board

(7) Returning Officers are responsible for:

  1. conducting elections with fairness and integrity in accordance with this Procedure and with the guidance of the University’s Election Manual
  2. addressing any complaints about the election in accordance with clauses 43 to 48 of this Procedure
  3. reporting on election outcomes in accordance with clause 38 and on any proposed improvements to election arrangements or to this Procedure.

Notice of election

(8) When an election is to be held the Returning Officer must inform the relevant electorate by:

  1. publishing a Notice on relevant University Elections websites
  2. issuing a notification and calling for nominations from the relevant electorate
  3. publicising the election in such other places as the Returning Officer considers appropriate.

(9) The Notice of election referred to at clause 8a must:

  1. announce that an election is to be held for positions on the University body concerned
  2. provide contact details for the Returning Officer
  3. specify the terms of office of the position or positions
  4. specify the eligibility requirements for candidature and voting in accordance with relevant University regulations and this Procedure
  5. specify the process and format for lodging a nomination, including:
    1. the requirements and the word limit for candidate statements
    2. any requirement for nominations to be supported by one or more eligible voters
  6. specify the period of time during which nominations must be lodged, which will be at least 10 working days.


(10) Elections will be conducted on the basis of candidates nominating themselves except for University Council elections where the Returning Officer may specify that nominations must be endorsed by one or more eligible voters.

(11) Nominations which do not conform to the specified format or which are incomplete will not be accepted and the nominee will not be accepted as a candidate in the election. Where practicable the Returning Officer will advise nominees to provide any missing information prior to the close of nominations.

(12) If the nominee is an eligible nominee the Returning Officer will advise the person that they are accepted as a candidate in the election as soon as practicable and no later than five working days after the close of nominations.

(13) If the nominee is not an eligible nominee the Returning Officer will advise the person in writing of the reason for their ineligibility. Where practicable, the Returning Officer will provide this advice before the close of nominations so that, where there are applicable circumstances, the person has the opportunity to make an eligible nomination.

(14) A nominee or candidate may withdraw their nomination up to the declaration of the result of the election.

Candidate statements

(15) A candidate must provide a statement for publication on the elections website in support of their candidacy up to a word limit specified in the Notice of election.

(16) The Returning Officer may request a candidate to amend their statement if, in the opinion of the Returning Officer, it contains inappropriate content and may withhold that content from publication if the candidate refuses to amend the statement.

(17) Statements in excess of the word limit specified in the Notice of election will be shortened by the Returning Officer prior to publication.

Declarations of nominations and Notice of poll

(18) Within five working days of the end of the nominations period, the Returning Officer must publish a list of eligible nominations on the Elections websites

(19) Where the number of eligible nominations received is fewer or equal to the number of vacancies the Returning Officer must:

  1. declare the nominated candidate or candidates elected
  2. deal with any unfilled positions in accordance with clause 39.

(20) Where the number of nominations in any category exceeds the number of vacancies, the election will proceed to poll and the Returning Officer must inform the relevant electorate by:

  1. publishing a Declaration of nominations and notice of poll on the Elections websites
  2. issuing a notification to the relevant electorate advising that a poll will be conducted
  3. publicising the poll in such other places as the Returning Officer considers appropriate.

(21) The Declaration of nominations and notice of poll referred to at clause 20a must include:

  1. the dates during which the poll will be open, which must be for at least five working days
  2. the names of the candidates and links to their candidate statements
  3. instructions to eligible voters about voting.

Eligible voters and nominees

(22) The Returning Officer must publish the eligibility criteria for nomination and voting in the Notice of election.

(23) Where no relevant eligibility criteria is set out in any relevant regulation, the following applies along with any criteria set out in the Notice of election:

  1. Staff eligibility – staff members will be eligible to vote and to nominate as candidates if they hold appointments of 12 months or more at 0.5 time fraction or more, including holding several positions which together amount to 0.5 time fraction or more
  2. Student eligibility – students will be eligible to vote and to nominate as candidates if on the date of the Notice of election they are enrolled in a course in the academic year in which the election is held, including students with enrolled but inactive status, but not including students:
    1. who are full-time employees of the University
    2. who have intermitted their studies unless intermitted under section 4 of Council Regulations
    3. who have withdrawn from the course
    4. who have completed the requirements of the course
    5. enrolled in non-award units or courses
    6. from other universities undertaking a study abroad, exchange program or cross-institutional units at Deakin University
    7. of the Deakin University English Language Institute unless also enrolled at Deakin University.
Where applicable, students will be classified as undergraduate, postgraduate coursework or higher degree by research students in accordance with Regulation 5.2(2) - Higher Education Award Courses - General and students in combined courses will be eligible in each Faculty offering the course.

(24) The Returning Officer is responsible for advising the eligibility criteria for an election and requesting the relevant electorate list from the Human Resources Division for staff elections and the Division of Student Administration for student elections.

(25) The Human Resources Division and Division of Student Administration are responsible for providing complete and accurate electorate lists of staff and students respectively.


(26) The Returning Officer will make all Candidate Statements available to the electorate by:

  1. publishing the Candidate Statements on the relevant election website from the date of declaration of nominations until the close of voting
  2. providing links to the Candidate Statements in notifications to all voters when nominations are declared (clause 21) and voting opens.

(27) Any campaigning activities by candidates must conform to the behaviours and principles set out in the Codes of Conduct for Staff and Students.

(28) Candidates and their supporters must not:

  1. put abroad untrue, defamatory or discriminatory statements
  2. malign other candidates
  3. disrupt classes or study areas with campaigning
  4. issue any form of enticement to voters
  5. interfere with voters, including by overseeing them cast their votes on the e-election system
  6. engage in any form of harassment or intimidation.

(29) Allegations that a candidate has engaged in improper campaigning will be investigated in accordance with the complaints process set out at clauses 42 to 48.

Casting of votes

(30) Voters cast votes through the University’s e-election system using the optional preferential system.

(31) An eligible voter may vote once only in any poll and must not vote on behalf of another voter or allow another voter to vote on their behalf.

(32) Voting is conducted confidentially so that the identity of individual voters and the casting of their votes will remain confidential.

Counting of votes

(33) The Returning Officer must oversee the counting of votes, which must occur within five working days of the close of the poll.

(34) Votes are counted in accordance with the optional preferential system. A candidate is elected if they gain more than 50 per cent of the vote, as follows:

  1. First, all the number ‘1’ votes are counted for each candidate. If a candidate gets more than half the total first preference votes, that candidate will be elected.
  2. If no candidate has more than half of the votes, the candidate with the fewest votes is excluded. This candidate’s votes are transferred to the other candidates according to the second preferences of voters on the ballot papers for the excluded candidate. If still no candidate has more than half the votes, the candidate who now has the fewest votes is excluded and the votes are transferred according to the next preference shown. This process continues until one candidate has more than half the total number of votes and is elected.

(35) If, following the distribution of all preferences, the remaining two candidates have any equal number of votes, the Returning Officer will determine the wining candidate by a random selection process which favours no particular candidate.

(36) The Returning Officer will inform each candidate of the result of the poll.

(37) If requested by a candidate the Returning Officer will advise that candidate of:

  1. the number of votes cast in the poll
  2. the number of votes obtained by the winning candidate
  3. the number of votes obtained by the candidate requesting the information and that candidate’s position in the poll, e.g. 2nd most votes, 3rd most votes and so on.

Declaration of poll

(38) The Returning Officer must publish a declaration of poll stating the name/s of the successful candidates within two working days after the counting of the votes.

Unfilled positions and co-opted members

(39) Where there are insufficient candidates to fill the available positions the Returning Officer may extend the nomination period, make a second call for nominations or, where authorised by the applicable Regulation, fill the position by co-option in accordance with the Regulation.

Diversity in membership on University bodies

(40) The University is committed to diversity of membership on University bodies reflecting the diversity of the University community.

(41) Consistent with this commitment:

  1. this Procedure supports a high level of awareness about and involvement in elections across the University
  2. University bodies are encouraged to consider co-opting members to increase diversity of membership
  3. Regulation 2.3(1) - The Faculties specifically authorises Faculty Boards to co-opt members to improve the gender balance or diversity or to provide additional expertise relevant to the needs of the Faculty.

Complaints about the conduct of elections

(42) Complaints about breaches of Regulation 7.1(1) – Elections or this Procedure should be lodged with the Returning Officer as soon as possible following the event occasioning the complaint.

(43) In considering a complaint the Returning Officer must make a decision based on sound reasoning and relevant evidence and within a timeframe that is reasonable in the circumstances. The Returning Officer has the following powers for addressing complaints:

  1. to investigate the complaint and make the inquiries that they consider warranted in the circumstances
  2. to convene an ad hoc committee to consider the outcomes of an investigation where they consider this is warranted by the circumstances
  3. to dismiss the complaint and provide reasons for the dismissal
  4. to uphold the complaint and take one or more of the following actions, depending on the circumstances:
    1. issue a formal warning to a candidate or a candidate's supporters
    2. place restrictions on campaigning
    3. disqualify a candidate from the election and convey that decision in writing, including reasons
    4. void an election or an election result where the conduct of the election or election campaign has lacked fairness or integrity.

(44) Where the Returning Officer disqualifies a candidate or candidates, the Returning Officer must decide whether to:

  1. declare the election invalid; or
  2. continue with the election where satisfied that it is fair and reasonable to do so.

(45) Before reaching a determination in accordance with clause 43d(iv) or clause 44 the Returning Officer must:

  1. take into account the inconvenience to the electorate and other candidates which would be caused if the election is declared invalid
  2. obtain approval for the proposed course of action from the relevant nominee of the Vice-Chancellor as set out at clause 48.

(46) A declaration to invalidate an election must:

  1. be in writing and communicated to all candidates and the electorate
  2. provide reasons for the declaration
  3. provide advice on the arrangements for the election to be conducted afresh.

(47) A decision of the Returning Officer arising from the investigation of a complaint is final. This does not preclude action under:

  1. the Codes of Conduct for Staff and Students
  2. the Student Complaints Resolution policy and Student Complaints Resolution procedure
  3. the Deakin University Enterprise Agreement 2017.

(48) If a Returning Officer is the subject of a complaint, the complaint will be escalated to the following nominees of the Vice-Chancellor in accordance with Regulation 7.1(1) – Elections.

  1. the General Counsel where the Returning Officer is the Council Secretary
  2. the Returning Officer’s supervisor in all other circumstances.

Procedural irregularities and adjustments for technical issues

(49) In the event of a procedural irregularity the Returning Officer must consider whether the result of the election would be affected and either:

  1. continue with the election if in the opinion of the Returning Officer it is fair and reasonable to do so; or
  2. declare the election invalid and follow the steps in clause 46.

(50) In the event of a technical failure the Returning Officer may make reasonable adjustments to accommodate the failure, including but not limited to extending the closing time for nominations or voting. The application of reasonable adjustments does not affect the validity of an election.

Record keeping

(51) The Returning Officer must ensure that records are made and maintained on:

  1. the conduct of the election in accordance with this Procedure; and
  2. the counting of votes and outcome of the election.
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Section 6 - Definitions

(52) For the purpose of this Procedure:

  1. candidate: an eligible nominee standing for election
  2. eligible nominee: a person who is eligible to be elected to a University body in a specific election in accordance with the terms of reference applicable to the University Body and as stated in the Notice
  3. eligible voter: a person who is entitled to vote in a specific election in accordance with the terms of reference applicable to the University body and as stated in the Notice
  4. Notice: the Notice of the election published by the Returning Officer
  5. optional preferential voting: a voting system under which voters may choose to mark a preference for one candidate, all candidates or any number of candidates in between
  6. University body: University Council, the Academic Board, Faculty Boards, Institute Boards and their committees, and such other boards and committees as the University may from time to time establish.