Election guidance


Submitting a nomination

To submit a nomination you can use the following nomination forms:

The 2021 election nomination period runs from 11 January to 29 January. You must submit your nomination no later than 17:00 29 January.

You may nominate yourself and do not need to gather further expressions of support from other students.

All candidates in Officer and Trustee elections will be subject to an eligibility check to ensure no reason exists that prevents them from serving as a Trustee and to check there are no conflicts of interest.

Please note: no nomination will be accepted until published on the authority of the Returning Officer

Candidate publication

Durham SU will publish candidates w/c 15 February 2021.

You are able to tell people that you have nominated yourself at any point, but candidates won’t be officially confirmed as such until published by the SU.

Withdrawing a nomination

You can withdraw your nomination at any point. Send an email to the Returning Officer at dsu.governance@durham.ac.uk from your @durham.ac.uk address notifying us of your intention to withdraw.

If we receive your notice more than one full working day before the ballot opens, then we will remove your name from the ballot before voting begins and post a notice on the Durham SU website and on the voting page of the website to inform voters of your decision.

If we receive your notice less than one full working day before the ballot opens, then we may not be able to remove your name from the ballot before voting starts. If this is the case, then we will declare the result of the election following the close of ballot. If you have won the election, then we will ask you again whether you wish to take up the position and, if you decline to do so, we will offer the position to the person who came second in the election without reopening nominations and rerunning the election.


Campaign teams

As a candidate, you are accountable for the conduct of all members of your campaign team and MUST properly brief your campaign teams so that they understand the election rules and conduct expected during the election period. All candidates will receive training before voting opens for campaign teams on election guidance and campaigning. This will be compulsory for candidates and campaign teams will be advised to attend.

Campaigning period

There is not an official ‘start’ of campaigning in Durham SU’s election rules. For example, this means putting a post online or telling your student group that you’re running in the election before a certain time isn’t a breach of the rules or guidance. You’re able to begin promoting your campaign whenever you would like. Durham SU will begin promotion following confirmation of all candidates.

Campaign regulations and rules

There are other elections regulations across campus, because Durham has other student organisations who make their own decisions. Candidates and campaign teams SHOULD respect local rules, but non-compliance with local regulations does not constitute a breach of Durham SU’s election regulations.

For example, a campaign team putting up a poster on a noticeboard in a Department or College SHOULD ask permission from the owner of the noticeboard because this is respectful. A failure to do so, however, isn’t a breach of any Durham SU rule.

Whilst we can inform potential candidates of Common Room rules, a request for a candidate to campaign in specific ways in a certain Common Room would not necessarily apply in any other Common Room or at Durham SU.

If we become aware of matters which are either not in the Returning Officer’s remit because they do not relate to the elections, or which the Returning Officer believes is serious enough to bring to the attention of another body, we may refer these matters to an appropriate other body. This could include Durham University, the Charity Commission, or the Durham SU Trustees.

Campaign promotion

Durham SU will promote all students standing in the elections fairly.

Candidates may not wish to, or may not be able to, access Durham SU’s promotion. This will not prevent the promotion of other candidates.

Durham SU will explain the implication of voting to re-open nominations (RON).

Access to resources during campaigning

Resources only available to an individual by virtue of an office held, such as student group Chair or University member of staff, MUST not be used to further an individual campaign.

A failure to properly use privileged resources may be subject to an investigation and subsequent disciplinary action.

Privileged resources may be tangible (use of an office space or corporate printing resources) or intangible (paid time while in a job, or access to a mailing list).

Posting on Social Media

  • Freely accessed opportunities to post are open to all and it’s the business of the owner of the group to moderate. Durham SU groups are expected to facilitate access. Even though Durham SU has no power to require University groups, including College or Common Room groups, they are also asked to facilitate open access.  
  • It’s always OK to groups – Durham SU or otherwise – to promote the elections in general, and the website.
  • If a group’s owners/editors decide to only let a certain candidate or candidates post in their group, or communicate using data they control to promote a certain candidate or candidates, then it is likely to be viewed as campaigning by the group in its own right, rather than a general communication.
    • So if group X decides to only promote candidate Y to their members, or only allow candidate Y access to the online spaces they control, then the group itself might be viewed as a campaigner for candidate Y. This is because the people who control the group have decided to share the messages and a request to vote for candidate Y rather than promote the elections generally. The campaign is then subject to the elections rules and candidate Y is accountable for the conduct of this part of their campaign.
  • If the campaign in question is not a Durham SU member or student group (a University staff member, or a University group, or another charity or company, for example) then their influence may be reviewed, to ensure that only Durham SU’s members are deciding this election. If the campaign is judged to have a material impact on Durham SU’s election it may be subject to the elections rules.

Re-Open Nominations (RON)

Every SU election includes an option to ‘re-open nominations’ for a particular role. If, for whatever reason, you do not think that any of the students standing in that category ought to be elected, then you can choose RON as a preference on the online ballot. If RON wins, the role will stand vacant until another election is organised.

An individual student can apply to be the head of a campaign to re-open nominations in a specific election by emailing dsu.governance@durham.ac.uk. The Returning Officer will usually take the first applicant, who will then be subject to election regulations as a candidate.


The budget for all candidates running in an election is £60.

No candidate is permitted to spend more than £60 on their campaign, inclusive of the contribution from Durham SU. All receipts MUST be submitted by the close of ballot.

A failure to properly account for campaign expenditure, including apparent expenditure over budget, may be subject to an investigation and subsequent disciplinary action.

Data security

This year, campaigning will likely be conducted online due to Covid-19, and taking care around data protection is an important part of how Durham SU assures its members that the election is a professional democratic exercise, and their rights are protected. Durham SU will provide training on appropriate use of data in elections campaigning which all candidates MUST attend and campaign teams SHOULD attend.

A failure to properly account for use of data may be subject to an investigation and subsequent disciplinary action.


Durham SU supports freedom of speech on campus and encourages student leaders to play full roles in democratic events and express support for candidates and policies. No student leader has any role in staffing or regulating the elections; professional elections staff who are required to remain non-partisan are the only people who have access to elections systems.

Durham SU student groups may endorse candidates in elections, provided that a properly constituted meeting or ballot of all members has made the decision to support a candidate. The endorsed candidate is then able to let voters know who they have been endorsed by.

For the avoidance of doubt: Committees or Executives may not make an endorsement on their own authority. Student groups may not use data resources made available to them to conduct student group activity to campaign for a particular candidate, including student group mailing lists or social media accounts. Doing this may be considered a breach of the election's rules by that candidate.