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Lancaster University Students’ Union (LUSU) is set to review the rules and regulations that affect elections on campus, following the JCR and Part-Time Officer by-elections that will be held in Week 28.
Feedback from candidates and officers, as well as from the wider student body, regarding the elections that have taken place this year has prompted LUSU to fully assess the whole election process. Candidates wishing to stand in any elections on campus had previously faced strict rules about the length of their campaigning, as well as the methods they use and the messages they wish to portray to prospective voters.
The Election Sub-Committee has completely re-drafted the document entitled ‘LUSU Elections Rules and Regulations’, which candidates for any elections must adhere to. Following the Week 28 elections in this term, the Election Sub-Committee hopes to bring this newly written document to the Union Council in Week 29, where it is hoped that it will be discussed and ultimately approved for the next academic year.
Andy Johnston, LUSU Vice-President (Finance, Events, Democracy and Societies), said that the Election Sub-Committee “believes that there is a lot of progress that can be made” and that it aims to “give more responsibility to our elected officers to guide the elections in a fair and transparent way.”
These changes, which are still to be confirmed, are expected to lessen the restrictions on electronic campaigning, including Facebook restrictions, and to introduce critical campaigning. This would allow candidates to question the policies of their competitors in public as part of their own campaigns, though it is speculated that this would be restricted to Hustings events.
It is hoped that changes to election procedures will result in more people engaging with the events through the opening up of new areas for campaigning, especially from the use of a variety of electronics.
Samantha Johnson, current Chair of Elections – a position available in the Week 28 elections – said: “We need to balance flexibility with specifics and recognise what we can enforce. We need to keep the rules future-proof and balance keeping the elections engaging and accessible but without trivialising them.”
These changes will come too late for the Week 28 elections that will decide 13 Part-Time Officer positions, including Student Media Board Chair, Chair of Sports Exec and the Welfare Campaigns Officer. However, it is hoped that, if passed in Week 29’s Union Council, they will be of benefit for all future LUSU elections.