Running Elections

All you need to know about how to run elections and why they are run

All you need to know about how to run elections and why they are run

AGMs, EGMs and Elections - what's the difference?
AGM (Annual General Meeting):
  • An end of year meeting to review your activity and summarise for members

  • Treasurer presents a financial report for the society

EGM (Extraordinary General Meeting):
  • Can be held any time during the year

  • Usually held for hustings for an election taking place mid-year

  • Can be used for society members to have their say/vote on other decisions


The voting process which takes place to officially choose new executive committee members for a society or student group.

Why does my group need to run elections?

Your society is part of the Students’ Guild, which is a democratically led organisation. This means that as students, you have an active say in how aspects of the Students’ Guild run, from electing officers to represent you to electing the committees of your societies and student groups.

Every year, societies and student groups must elect a new committee for the following academic year. By running an election, you are making sure that all members have an equal opportunity to vote for the people who are running the society, or to nominate themselves for a committee role!

When should we hold elections? 

Elections for society committees should be part of the society AGM (Annual General Meeting) and should be held by the end of Term 3 at the latest. Ideally, you will hold your election in time for your new committee to attend training in the first week of June. 

All committees must be elected by the end of Term 3 otherwise your society is considered to have gone dormant. If you require special consideration as to why this is not possible, you must email the Activities Team to discuss your options.  

You can also hold an election at any time during the year if you need to elect new committee members. These can be part of an EGM (Extraordinary General Meeting) or you can just choose to run the election online outside of your society activity. 

Who can stand in a committee election? 

Any student can run for a society committee positions providing they: 

  • Are a current student of the University of Exeter 

  • Have membership to the society for which they want to run 

  • Will be a student during their term on committee 

Can a student who is studying abroad or on a year in industry stand in a committee election?
  • Anyone who is abroad, on a year in industry, interrupting their degree, or otherwise away from Exeter will need to buy your society membership to stand in an election.
  • Unfortunately we can't add students who are not currently in Exeter to temporary memberships just to stand in an election, as this could be considered election fraud, which is illegal. 
  • Society committees do not have the authority to implement a lower membership price for anyone in these circumstances who wishes to run, as they cannot decide who would be eligible. The data-sharing agreement the Guild currently has with the University doesn't provide detailed information about students' current circumstances. This means we cannot accurately define or implement the criteria by which students would fall under these exceptional circumstances.
  • There are several specialist Councils within the Guild who would need to consult on any process regarding committee elections. 

Activities have been looking into this issue and working to find a solution. Unfortunately there is currently no solution which is both legal and compliant with the Guild's governance structures. We are sorry for the inconvenience this may cause.

Societies can consider holding elections for some additional committee roles in September, when anyone who is not a member this year has returned and purchased membership for next academic year.

If you have any questions about this, please contact Activities.

Planning your election 

There are a few things you need to consider when planning your committee elections: 

Review the roles on the current committee: are they a good fit? Is there a role missing? Is there a role that is no longer required? 

  • Make sure you have a clear outline of each of the roles including responsibilities. This helps potential candidates determine which role is the best fit for them.  

Make sure your group’s aims and objectives are clear.  

  • This will provide potential candidates with clarity on the purpose and goals of the society/group 

Review what you’ve managed to achieve this year, what has gone well, what hasn’t gone well and what can be improved.  

  • Potential candidates will be running on a manifesto of what they’d like to achieve so it’s a good idea to provide them with a review to make sure their objectives are achievable. 

You will need select a returning officer, a member of the committee who will not be standing in the election. This should be the President, unless they are re-running.  

  • The returning officer will set up and run your online election
  • The returning officer will be responsible for ensuring that the election is conducted fairly and the main point of contact for candidates and for staff communications about your election.

We run our electiosn using a voting system called Single Transferrable voting. "The single transferable vote is a voting system designed to achieve proportional representation through ranked voting. Under STV, an elector's vote is initially allocated to his or her most preferred candidate, and then, after candidates have been either elected or eliminated, any surplus or unused votes are transferred according to the voter's stated preferences. The system minimizes "wasted" votes, provides approximately proportional representation, and enables votes to be explicitly cast for individual candidates rather than for closed party lists." Taken from Wikipedia

The video below shows how STV works:

Online Elections

For new committee elections for 2020-21, all society elections should be run online. This decision has been student-led through Societies Council in order to enable Activities to better support all society elections.

You can still hold in-person hustings as part of your AGM and the vote can be open during the AGM so that your members can vote there and then. 

By holding an online election, you'll reduce the amount of time and paperwork that your committee have to complete to elect your committee for next year.

If you believe there is significant reason why your society cannot run an online election, please email Activities. 

How to set up your Online Election 

Your returning officer will be given permissions to set up elections via their account on the Students’ Guild website. This can be found under the accounts tab, labelled elections admin. It is the returning officer’s responsibility to set up the election.  

As part of the set up process, you'll need to have decided when you want nominations to open and close, and when you want voting to go live and end.   

Section 1 - Details 
  •  Title - *Society name * Committee Elections 2020
  • Display on Website – this must at the very least cover the date when nominations open and when voting closes.
  • Description - this is optional! You can include a brief description of the election and the positions available. 
 Section 2 – Nominations 
  • Nominations period - this is the period when members of your society can nominate themselves for a position. It is advised for this to be at least 5 working days but not more than 10.
  • Online/ Paper manifesto Deadline - this deadline can be anytime between when nominations close until the end of the voting period.
  • Deposit amount - Ignore
  • Max number of candidacies - Ignore
  • Candidate T&Cs: Leave blank 
 Section 3 - Visibility  
  • Non-logged in users - Select 'Basic'
  • Logged in users - Select 'Basic'
  • Not Eligible message - 'Sorry you are not eligible to nominate yourself for this position as you are not a member of the society.' 
 Section 4 - Profile Page 
  •  Help text - leave blank 
 Section 5 - Polling  

The only field you need to complete of the three voting options is e-voting. You'll need to select a date after nominations have closed to open voting and a date for voting to end which should be at least 5 working days from voting opening but no more than 10. 

  •  Voters T&Cs - leave blank
  • Abstention confirmation text - 'This is to confirm you have abstained from voting for this position.'
  • Voting Completion Text - 'Thank you for submitting your vote.' 

 After completing this select 'Save Election'.  

Adding Posts - 

Reselect the election and go to the 'Posts' section at the top. For each post you want to add click 'Add post' and complete the following: 

  • Select the drop-down box to select the position (click on the position name rather than the box to the left).  

  • If you would like to add a new position, please email in the name of the new position to the Activities Team  

  • Short description - Here you can put a description of the position and the role responsibilities 

  •  Places - number of places available for this position. This is the number of vacancies to be filled. There should be no limit to the number of people who can apply for each position.

  • Options - make sure 'Use RON Candidate' is selected 

  • Manifesto Options - Make sure 'Allow Manifesto text' is selected. You can also add a word count if you wish! The 'Allow Photo' and 'Allow Slogan' are optional! 

  • Then select 'Add Post'


Results will be counted by a member of the Activities Team and will be emailed to the returning officer within 2 working days of the close of voting.   


University of Exeter Students' Guild is a Charity and Company Limited by Guarantee. Registered Charity Number: 1136468 Company Number: 07217324; registered in England and Wales Registered office: Devonshire House, Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4PZ