Advice for Candidates
Students who run in our elections consistently describe it as a rewarding experience, and say that win or lose, being a candidate is a great opportunity.
However, we know if you haven't campaigned in an election before the prospect might seem a little daunting!
That's why we've answered some of your most frequently asked questions below, and why our team of staff in the Representation and Democracy team are on-hand to support you.
If you have any questions not answered below, please drop in an see us at the Student Representation and Leadership Hub in Potterrow, or email email@example.com.
What are the key dates and deadlines for the October 2019 elections?
There are a few key dates and deadlines which you should make sure you have a note of, but don't worry - once you've nominated yourself, we'll be in touch via email with reminders.
- Nominations open: September 6th, 12pm
- Nominations close: October 3rd, 11:59pm
- Online candidate profile deadline: October 9th, 12pm
- After this date, you can't make any further changes to your online profile, so make sure you get everything uploaded and looking great in good time.
- Campaigning starts: October 10th, 12pm
- This is the point at which you can start advertising the fact that you are standing in the election. Promoting your candidacy before this point will put you in breach of our Election Regulations and could have serious consequences.
- Voting opens: October 14th, 10am
- This is the point at which students can start to vote, so you may want to ramp up your campaigning.
- Online print deadline: October 15th, 12pm
- If you're ordering printed materials through the Students' Association, this is the deadline for materials to be submitted.
- Voting closes: October 17th, 5pm
- Results night: October 18th, 5:30-8pm, with results announced from 6-6:30pm
- Join other candidates, current elected reps, and Students' Association staff to celebrate your hard work and find out whose campaigns have been successful. All candidates, as well as friends and supporters are welcome.
What do I need to do as a candidate?
How much time you dedicate to campaigning is up to you, but the key to being a successful candidate is explaining to eligible voters why they should vote for you. You can do this by completing your online candidate profile with a photo and manifesto, producing posters and flyers, and posting on social media letting people know you're standing. You might also want to campaign in-person by making short announcements in your classes, or speaking to people around your School, or other areas on campus.
What should I put in my manifesto?
Most candidates use the manifesto section of their online profile to highlight any relevant experience they have; what has motivated them to stand; and what they'd hope to achieve if elected. We'd recommend keeping it concise but not being afraid to sound like you! You might also want to tailor it to your audience, and use text styles to highlight key points.
How can I upload my manifesto?
Click here and select the election you have stood in. Click on hthe position you have nominated yourself for, scroll down, and you should see the option to upload a manifesto. If you follow this link you will have the option to upload a photo and enter your manifesto into the text box below.
Where can I find out about the issues that matter to students?
Most candidates start by simply talking to their friends and peers, but it's important to make sure you're hearing from a diverse range of students. You could also chat to current elected representatives, look at the list of motions which students have brought to Student Council recently, and explore the University's Have Your Say pages.
What should my posters and flyers say?
Printed materials are most effective when the information on them is clear and concise. Alongside the basic details like your name, the role you're standing for, when and how students can vote, we'd also suggest highlighting 3-5 quick ideas or pledges. You might want to choose ideas which you think are of interest to a wide range of students, which have been well-received by your friends, or which are attention-grabbing.
What should I use to make my posters and flyers?
You can create basic posters and flyers in Microsoft Word, but for more complex designs, many candidates use website like Canva which have hundreds of templates to choose from. If you want to use a programme like Photoshop, the University's Digital Skills Resource Finder has links to both online and in-person courses on using design software.
How can I get posters and flyers printed?
If you want to produce printed materials you have four options:
- Print them using your own printer, or a printer belonging to one of your friends: This works well for basic posters and flyers - just remember to keep any receipts for paper or ink you purchase as part of your campaign, as these can be claimed back through our candidate expenses process.
- Print them using Library printers: If you're only printing a small number of posters or flyers, and don't have access to a printer at home, then you can use the University Library's printing facilities. Just remember to keep a record of any print credits you purchase to print campaign materials, as these can be claimed back through our candidate expenses process.
- Print them through the Students' Association: If you don't want to pay for printing directly then you can order printing through your candidate profile. This will automatically be deducted from your campaigning budget. You'll be able to collect your printing from the University print shop on Infirmary Street a day or two after it's been approved.
- Print them through a commercial printing company: If you're looking for glossy posters and flyers then you may want to consider printing them through a commercial printing company - there are plenty in Edinburgh and online. Just remember to keep any receipts as these can be claimed back through our candidate expenses process.
Don't forget that you have a budget of upto £30 for your campaign, and you cannot spend more than this.
Where can I display my materials?
If you decide to print posters these can be displayed on Students' Association's noticeboards. You may also be able to put up posters and leave flyers in your School's buildings, but you should check with relevant staff to emnsure you don't waste time putting up posters which are going to be removed.
If you're handing out flyers, you can do this across campus, but you should avoid areas where people are eating or studying, and be respectful of people who say they don't want to be disturbed.
What if I just want to run a digital campaign?
Lots of candidates choose to run entirely digital campaigns - promoting themselves on social media, and in emails.
On social media, we'd recommend setting up a Facebook page where you can share your mainfesto and updates on your campaign, and then asking your friends to invite people who might be interested to like it. You could also create a Facebook event to remind people when voting is open.
You could also ask administrative staff in your School if it is possible to send out an email to students about the elections, but if they do, the email needs to promote all candidates equally and can't simply promote your candidacy.
How can I make an election video?
If you're running a digital campaign, making a campaign video is a great idea as it gives you the opportunity to promote your campaign in a quick and accessible format. You can make a great video simply using your smartphone, but if you want something that looks more professional then you could see if any of your friends have a DSLR or video camera, or even borrow some equipment from the University.
Once your video is ready you can upload it straight to your candidate profile and Facebook, or put it on YouTube so it's easier to link to on social media and in emails.
How can I campaign face-to-face?
Digital campaigning is great, but it's much easier to be persuasive when you're face-to-face with a potential voter. Try asking them questions about what matters to them, or which of your manifesto pledges they like, rather than just speaking at them.
If they don't seem chatty, just give them a 60 second pitch outlining who you are, what you're standing for, and why they should vote for you. If you have flyers, you can always hand them one as a reminder to vote.
You could also ask University staff about doing a short announcement at the start of your classes or at other School-run events, but don't forget that they need to give that opportunity to other candidates too, if they ask.
How can students vote?
From October 14th at 10am to October 17th at 5pm, students can vote on the Students' Association website.
Our elections are governed by the Students' Association's Election Regulations which you can read here.
Our Election Regulations exist to ensure that elections are conducted fairly. If you're a candidate and aren't sure of something, or if you believe a candidate has breached the Election Regulations then please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also drop in to the Student Representation and Leadership Hub in Potterrow between 09:30 and 17:30 Monday to Friday to speak with a member of staff from our Representation and Democracy team.