Elections: Constitution and Standing Orders

Unlock  Democracy's constitution lays down the rules we follow in our members elections. You can download the full constitution here, but the specifics that relate to the elections are included here, for information.

Unlock Democracy Constitution

4.2.  Composition of the council

4.2.1.  The Council shall consist of up to eighteen members elected every two years by all member ballot using the Single Transferable Voting system in one or more multi-member constituencies. The number of constituencies, geographical areas, electorate and numbers of members to elect for each constituency shall be determined by each alternate Annual General Meeting preceding a Council election.

4.2.2.  At least one member shall be elected from each of the geographical areas determined by the AGM which immediately precedes the election. If no one stands for a particular geographical area, the remaining place(s) shall be open to all candidates. Candidates’ area shall be indicated next to their name on the ballot paper.

4.2.3.  At least one third of places in each constituency, rounded down, shall be reserved for women and one third for men, subject to sufficient candidates standing to fill those places.  If fewer women or men stand than there are reserved places for that gender, the remaining places shall be open to all candidates.

4.2.4.  If no candidates who self-define as a member of an ethnic minority are elected to any of the constituencies, two additional places shall be allocated for unsuccessful candidates who self-define as a member of an ethnic minority. If one candidate who self-defines as a member of an ethnic minority is elected to one of the constituencies, one additional place shall be allocated to an unsuccessful candidate who self-defines as a member of an ethnic minority. If there are more qualifying candidates than places to be allocated, the first preference votes they received in the constituency elections shall be compared and
places shall be allocated according to who received the most.

4.2.5.  All ballot papers shall be kept for two years. If a casual vacancy arises, the ballot papers shall be recounted by the Returning Officer to fill that vacancy in the first instance. If the Returning Officer rules that a recount cannot result in the election of a new member and the next Council elections are more than twelve months away, a by-election shall be held. Otherwise the place shall be left vacant

Appendix B:  Elections

1.  General

1.1.    The rules in this section shall be used as the basis for all internal elections stipulated by the Constitution and elsewhere.

1.2.  The Returning Officer appointed by the Council under clause 4.1.6 of the Constitution will be responsible for the conduct of elections, and for certifying the election results. 

1.3.   All members shall be entitled to vote in all-member ballots and be a candidate in elections where all members are entitled to stand 30 working days after their application to join the Organisation (see section 3.1 of the Constitution). Members shall self-nominate in order to stand.

1.4.   The Returning Officer’s rulings on all matters relating to the running of elections shall be final, excepting a candidate’s right under Section 4.3.

2.  All member elections

2.1.   All members shall be notified of the opening of nominations at least 42 days in advance. The notice will include schedule of dates for the election:
a)  the date for nominations to be received; 
b)  the approximate date by which the voting papers will be posted out, the close of poll and the day on which the voting papers shall be counted; 
c)  in the case of Council meetings, the date of the first meeting of the new Council, determined in agreement with the existing Chair of Council;
d)  a written summary of the election rules, approved by the Returning Officer;
e) a nomination form.


2.2.  The nomination form shall include space for candidates to include their name, address, phone number, em ail address, other relevant contact details and signature. The form shall also include space for them to declare:
a)  where there are reserved places for people of a particular gender, such as the Council, their gender;
b)  where there are reserved places for ethnic minorities, such as the Council, if they are a member of an ethnic minority;
c)  that they are willing to stand in this election and abide by its rules.An electronic version of this form may be included on the Organisations' website.

2.3.  The rules for Candidates’ election addresses and election related materials shall be as follows:
a)  Each candidate is allowed the equivalent of one A4-size page for their election address, which may include their personal contact details, images and photographs, and may be submitted hard copy or digitally. The Returning Officer will provide advice on submission, formatting and production.
b)  Election Addresses will be reproduced in black and white for hard copy circulation to all voting members by the Organisation, and may be made available in such electronic format and via such electronic means as the Returning Officer shall determine.
c)  All statements and election-related materials, whether published by Unlock Democracy or otherwise by candidates or on behalf of candidates, must conform to a spirit of reasonable, albeit robust, assertion and debate. They shall not contain direct or indirect personal attacks on members of Unlock Democracy or its staff. Libellous assertions are not allowed. The Returning Officer shall have the final say on the content of all election addresses.
d)  Candidates are required to adhere to the requirements in 2.3c for all communication by themselves or on their behalf, in the election period (from date of announcement of election and call for nominations, through to the declaration of results), whether hard copy, digitally or through social media. Where breaches are drawn to the attention of the Returning Officer, he or she will adjudicate.
e)  The organisation will provide space on its website for each candidate, to include a question and answer facility.
f)  During the election period, candidates may not spend more than the sum agreed by AGM [£10 for the 2016 elections] on independently published materials. The use for campaigning of internet and social media services that are part of a candidate’s normal online presence shall not be included in this limit even if the candidate pays for the use of such services.  
g)  Neither the Returning Officer nor any staff member shall provide access to membership lists.

2.4.  Members shall not be compelled to use the official nomination form to stand. To be eligible, nominations must be signed by the candidate and returned to the Returning Officer before the close of nomination. Nominations by email shall be deemed acceptable. Members who do not declare they are a member of an ethnic minority shall be assumed not to be a member of an ethnic minority. Members who do not declare their gender shall be eligible for election only in nonreserved places, and for places where insufficient candidates of either gender are nominated.

2.5.  Voting papers, a copy of the candidates' election statements, a freepost envelope and notification of the close of poll shall be sent to all members within 21 days of the close of nominations. Candidates election addresses will be listed in a reverse of the order on the ballot paper, however an alphabetic index will be provided.

2.6.  The date for close of poll shall be set no less than 14 days after the voting papers have been sent to all members.

2.7.  All candidates shall be given at least 14 days notice of the date and location of the count. They, or an individual they specifically nominate who has been agreed by the Returning Officer, shall be entitled to observe the count.

2.8.  The Returning Officer shall take reasonable steps to inform all candidates whether or not they have been successfully elected before the results may be publicly declared. The Organisation shall take reasonable steps to circulate the results widely.

2.9.  The Returning Officer shall make a report to the following Council, including any rulings they were required to make in the course of the election.

3.  The Count

3.1.   Elections and multi-option ballots shall be conducted according to the rules set out in the latest edition of "How to conduct an election by the Single Transferable Vote", published by the Electoral Reform Society.


3.2.  In addition, the Returning Officer shall ensure that all candidates are elected in accordance with the constitution

4.  Conduct of candidates and appeals

4.1.   Any member may make a complaint to the returning officer on an issue which they believe trangresses these rules. The Returning Officer will consider and make a ruling on these matters

4.2.   Any candidate who makes a statement on their nomination or election statement which they know to be false shall be disqualified.

4.3.  Any candidate may appeal against any ruling by the Returning Officer which has a direct impact on their candidacy, including the validity of the result itself, within 24 hours of being informed of the decision. In such circumstances, the Returning Officer shall refer the matter to a disinterested and independent arbitrator. The arbitrator's decision shall be final