Voting in union elections


Who can vote in union elections?


Any student at Lancaster University, regardless of year, fee status, or mode of study, is a member of the students’ union and has a vote in the elections. Therefore you, as a student, are a voter!


What am I voting for?


Elections run every term for you to decide who represents you and your needs as a student at various levels within the university, locally, and nationally. Lent term elections decide which of your fellow students will take up 12 Full and Part-Time Officer (FTO and PTO) positions for one year; these Officers will act on behalf of you. Click here to see the duties and remits of each FTO, or here to learn more about each PTO position.


So why should I vote?


Only the student body of the university can decide who is trusted with each position. The winners of the election will represent you and lobby for change on your behalf; by voting, you hold the most power in deciding who leads your union and works with the university to make changes which affect your academic, extracurricular, and community life in Lancaster.

As Trustees (people who are legally responsible for the union as a charity), and paid representatives, your elected FTOs are accountable to you.

If you are unhappy with the elections process, you can also spoil your ballot at the point of voting or vote to Re-Open Nominations. Both options are more powerful than choosing to not vote.


How do I know who to vote for?


Vote for the candidate who you feel would best listen to you and represent your interests to the union and the university. Try to avoid voting for someone just because they are your friend; your vote is strictly your decision, and you do not have to reveal who you voted for.

Candidates will begin campaigning at the start of Week 7; you can keep an eye out for posters, on social media, and on the union’s website for their manifestos. Their manifestos explain who they are, why they are appropriate for the role, and what changes they will seek to make if they are elected.

Be as critical as possible when reading a manifesto; are the candidate’s pledges achievable within a year? Will you be able to tell if they are making any progress, or are they making generic, open-ended statements?

You can also attend the union’s Hustings event, where each candidate will present a brief speech on their manifesto and debate on questions presented by the audience.


What if I don’t like any of the candidates?


You can vote for RON - Re-Open Nominations. If RON is the most popular “candidate” for a position, nobody is elected into that role and the union will open nominations again in the following term.


So do I only get one vote?


You have one vote per position up for election; click here to see which positions are open for election. However, the union uses the single transferrable vote (STV) system. Unlike “traditional” voting, STV offers proportional representation and means you can maximise the outcome of your vote.

To give an example of how STV works, imagine your mate is nipping to Greggs for lunch, and offers to bring you back something. You reply that a steak bake would be ideal, but if they’re sold out, a sausage roll. If those are sold out too, you’ll have anything.

What you’ve told your mate is that a steak bake is your first choice, or your first preference. Failing that, your second choice/preference is a sausage roll, and after that you haven’t got a preference. STV works in a very similar way:

  • When voting opens, you will have the option to pick your first choice candidate (your steak bake) for each position. This is usually the first, and only, voting stage in “traditional” voting.
  • After picking your first choice candidates, you can also choose to allocate your second choice to another candidate (your sausage roll). This would be the person you would like to see in the role, should your first choice be unsuccessful.
  • You can choose to continue allocating preferences to as many or as few candidates as you like, including a choice to “RON”. Not allocating additional preferences does not automatically make your first choice less likely to win; it simply ensures that you still have a say in who represents you should your first choice receive the fewest votes.
  • When voting closes, first choice allocations are totalled. If a candidate does not already hold over 50% of the total number of first choice votes, the candidate with the fewest first choice votes is eliminated. This is where your voice can still count!
  • The eliminated candidate’s votes are then transferred to the second round of counting. If your first choice is eliminated by this stage, your vote is then transferred to your second choice.
  • The process continues, until a winner for that position is confirmed.

Still scratching your head? Try watching our STV video!


What are my rights as a voter?


Some areas of campus are popular campaigning zones, such as Alexandra Square and college bars. However, certain areas of campus, including the Library, Learning Zone, and academic study spaces are strictly off-limits for candidates to campaign in. You have the right to not be disturbed by campaigners in these areas.

You have the right to be treated with respect by candidates, even if you are not voting for them.

You have the right to vote freely and without coercion. Candidates are not allowed to influence you at the point of casting your vote, nor are they allowed to ask who you voted for.

Candidates will be briefed on regulations prior to campaigning.


Can I report candidate misconduct?


Yes. If you are unhappy with a candidate’s conduct, you can email .


Sounds great - how do I vote?


Voting opens online on Wednesday in Week 8; head over to , enter your login details, and cast your vote!

You can do this on any device. Look out for the union’s polling stations around campus, too!