Leadership Elections: How do they work?


Cambridge SU is run by students for students. 

Every year in February/March students are elected (Sabbatical Officers) by other students to run the SU for a year. Any student can run to be a candidate in the SU Leadership Election. 

The elected team of Sabbatical Officers are full time paid representatives of the student body, who may take a year out of their studies or have just graduated from their studies. The Sabbatical Officer team is comprised of

  • Undergraduate President 
  • Postgraduate President 
  • Undergraduate Access, Education & Participation Officer 
  • Postgraduate Access, Education & Participation Officer 
  • BME Officer 
  • Disabled Students’ Officer 
  • Welfare & Community Officer 
  • Women’s Officer 

The SU Leadership Election is broken down into stages:

Nominations open 
This is the part where you decide if you would like to run for a role. You can reach out to our Democracy Manger, Tash, on elections@cambridgesu.co.uk to book a drop in session, or email for more information and advice. You can always ask the current Sabbatical Officers how they’ve found the role, if you feel comfortable. Once you have decided if you want to give it a shot and what role you want to do visit the Elections page and nominate yourself to run. To do this you will need to provide the following; 

  • Your name/crisid 
  • A preferred name 
  • Email/telephone number 
  • Plain text manifesto (designed is optional)
  • Photo (optional)
  • A slogan (optional)

It’s important to know that for some roles you will be required to self-identify to be eligible to run. 
Nominations open: 12th at 9am - 20th February at 12pm

Candidate preparation:

Once you’ve submitted your nomination there are a few things you’ll need to do and prep for.

  • Your manifesto. A manifesto tells students what you’re standing for and what you’re going to do for them if elected. The deadline for your manifesto and any campaign materials is the 22nd February at 12pm. If you need tips, you can look on the elections page, or watch the candidate briefing.

  • The candidate briefing will be sent to all candidates on the 20th February following the close of nominations. This year candidates will be able to watch the briefing in their own time before the mandatory Candidate Prep Session. This will give you the low down on the roles, rules and some great tips for campaigning and manifestos.

  • After receiving the candidate briefing, there will be the mandatory Candidate Prep Session on the 21st February. Arrival is from 4.30pm for refreshments, ready for a 5pm start. This is where you’ll be able to ask the Returning Officer and support staff any questions after watching the briefing, do some scenario activities with your fellow candidates, and meet your Elections buddy!

Candidates announced:
Candidates who are running will be announced on the SU website and social media channels. This is when candidates can announce they will be running in the SU Leadership Election! (It's in the rules)

This takes place before voting opens and lasts until voting closes. This is your chance to do everything that you can to get the most votes in your category. How you campaign is completely up to you, from social media to posters, to putting it in your Hinge profile ( yes this has happened ). As long as you stick to the campaigning rules you're good to go! Campainig period: 23rd at 9am - 29th February at 5pm 

Voting opens:
Once voting is open all students are able to vote for who they want to lead the SU. Voting is available online. 

We use a system called Single Transferable Vote to count all elections. The definitive guide to the system as we implement it is How to conduct an election by the Single Transferable Vote, 3rd Ed, published by the Electoral Reform Society (1997). This is freely available online. 
But how does this actually work? 

Voters rank their preferences on the ballot between the candidates and RON. They can rank as many or as few candidates as they like.
To get elected, a candidate needs a set amount of votes, known as the quota. Our election platform has a formula which works out the quota automatically. The formula is:


Total Votes / (Total Seats + 1)

Total votes = the total valid vote (the number of valid (unspoiled) votes cast in an election).

Total seats = the total number of seats to be filled in the election.

Each voter has one vote for each role. Once the counting has finished, any candidate who has more first preference votes than the quota is elected. But, rather than ignore extra or surplus votes a candidate received after the amount they need to win, these votes move to each voter’s second preference candidate.

If no one reaches the quota, then the least popular candidate is removed. People who voted for them have their votes moved to their second favourite candidate. This process continues until every vacancy is filled.


Once voting has closed, the results of the SU Leadership Election will be announced and you will find out who will be leading your SU!


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