Rules Governing Electronic Ballots

Document Number001017
Date Approved23 August 2013
  

1.      Introduction

1.1      This Rule is made in accordance with the provisions of the University of Newcastle Act 1989 (NSW), Part 5, Section 29 and the University of Newcastle By-law 2005 (NSW), Part 3, Division 1, Clauses 10-27.

2.      Scope

2.1      This Rule may apply to all University elections unless otherwise specified in the Act, By-law or the committee or University body’s constitution or terms of reference.

2.2      Specifically, this Rule does not apply to Council elections, where the manner of conducting a ballot is prescribed in the By-law.

2.3      This Rule only covers the conduct of the ballot of the election process. Notice of election and nomination of candidates are covered under the By-law, the relevant constitution or terms of reference as applicable.

3.      Aim and Intent

3.1      This Rule aims to provide for ballots to be conducted by electronic means where allowable.

4.      Definitions

In the context of this Rule:

Act means the University of Newcastle Act 1989 (NSW);

By-Law means the University of Newcastle By-law 2005 (NSW);

Council means the Council of the University;

5.      Manner of Conducting Ballot

5.1      Unless otherwise specified, ballots are to be conducted by secret ballot using a compulsory preferential system of voting.

5.2      Subject to the Act, the By-law and these Rules, the Returning Officer must decide whether the ballot is to be conducted by an electronic or non-electronic ballot.

5.3      In the case of an electronic ballot, the Returning Officer may make alternative arrangements for persons eligible to vote who are unable to take part in an electronic ballot and who makes a timely request for a postal vote.

5.4      If there is any technical malfunction in respect of an electronic ballot, the Returning Officer may determine that the polling period be extended, or that the ballot is to be held again by a paper-based or another electronic ballot.

6.      Ballots to Remain Secret

6.1      A person involved in administering the conduct of a ballot (including any appointed scrutineer) must not disclose or assist another person to disclose any information as to how a person voted in the ballot.

7.      Providing ballot material to voters

7.1      The Returning Officer must send to each person who is eligible to vote in the election concerned, at the person’s email or physical address, instructions on how to access the electronic ballot and complete an electronic ballot form, including the internet address of the election website.

8.      Election website

8.1      An election website is to be established for the purposes of an electronic ballot.

8.2      The Returning Officer will be responsible for authorising all information relating to the election that is to be posted on the web site.

8.3      The election website must include the following:

  1. instructions on how to vote, including the closing date of the ballot,
  2. the names of all candidates for election arranged in an order determined by drawing lots,
  3. any statements (as amended by the Returning Officer) and photographs that have been submitted by the candidates in relation to their nominations.

8.4      The election website will require voters to verify their eligibility to vote and their identity.

9.      Completing and submitting electronic ballot forms

9.1      Each voter may vote once only. Voters must vote by completing the electronic ballot form on the election website, in accordance with the instructions on the election website, so as to indicate their preference for the candidates.

9.2      Voters:

  1. must vote by placing the number “1” opposite the name of the candidate to whom the voter wishes to give a first preference vote, and
  2. must then give secondary votes to the remaining candidates (by placing the numbers “2”, “3”, “4”, and so on, opposite the names of all the other candidates) so as to indicate unambiguously the order of the voter’s preferences for them.

9.3      Voters must, after completing the electronic ballot form, submit it to the Returning Officer by following the instructions on the election website.

9.4      The Returning Officer must ensure that any electronic database or retrieval system containing electronic votes is kept secure until the counting of votes begins in accordance with these Rules.

10.    Counting of votes on close of electronic ballot

10.1    As soon as practicable after the close of ballot, the Returning Officer, in the presence of any appointed scrutineer will review all information and reports about the electronic ballot and determine the result of the electronic ballot.

10.2    Votes are to be counted in accordance with the method of counting votes set out in the By-law or in committee or University body’s constitution or terms of reference as applicable.

11.    Ballot not invalidated because of certain errors

11.1    A ballot is not invalid because of any one or more of the following:

  1. a person eligible to vote did not receive or see a notice of election,
  2. a person eligible to vote could not access the election website,
  3. the vote of a person who was eligible to vote in the ballot has not been received by the Returning Officer.

11.2    Despite subclause 11.1 and without limiting any of the Returning Officer’s other powers, the Returning Officer may at any time declare a ballot invalid because, in his or her opinion, one or more of the events described in that subclause has materially affected, or is likely to materially affect, the outcome of that ballot.

12.    Scrutineers

12.1    Each candidate for election may appoint one person to be present as that candidate’s scrutineer at any counting of votes for a ballot. Any appointment under this clause must be in writing, signed (or e-mailed) by the candidate, and given to the Returning Officer before counting of votes commences.

12.2    A candidate for election is not eligible to be a scrutineer.

12.3    A scrutineer may inspect any report or record from any electronic database or retrieval system containing electronic votes used in the electronic ballot, provided that, in the opinion of the Returning Officer, that scrutiny does not delay the counting of votes unreasonably and does not disclose information on how a person voted in the ballot.

13.    Informal electronic votes

13.1    An electronic vote is informal if, and only if, in the opinion of the Returning Officer, it does not include a vote for a number of candidates at least equal to the number of vacancies to be filled.

14.    Tally sheet to be kept

14.1    The Returning Officer must keep a tally sheet (in either electronic or hard copy form) for each ballot containing the following information:

  1. total number of ballot papers or electronic votes received,
  2. total number of informal ballot papers or electronic votes received,
  3. a list of candidates,
  4. primary votes allocated to each candidate,
  5. secondary votes allocated to each candidate,
  6. exhausted ballot papers,
  7. progressive total votes for each candidate.

14.2    At each stage of counting, the total votes received distributed across the number of candidates to be elected must correspond with the total number of formal ballot papers or electronic votes (including exhausted ballot papers).

15.    Essential Supporting Documents

University of Newcastle Act 1989 (NSW)

University of Newcastle By-law 2005 (NSW)

Approval AuthorityCouncil
Date Approved23 August 2013
Date for Review23 August 2016
Policy SponsorVice-Chancellor
Policy OwnerUniversity Secretary
Policy ContactDirector Council Services and Chancellery
Amendment History

Council (Resolution C13:132) approved new rule (Doc N13:039a – Attachment 1) 23 August 2013.