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UMSU Election — detailed information

Ballot packs for all postal vote applicants have been sent out, except for a small number of students who have been contacted individually. This page provides important information on how to complete your ballot and return it.

For information about the candidates, tickets, and their policies, please refer to the Farrago election guide.

If you have any questions, please contact Deputy Returning Officer Stephen Luntz: sluntz@unimelb.edu.au.

Table of contents

  1. About the ballot pack
  2. How to complete a ballot
  3. How to pack your envelope for return
  4. Deadline
  5. More information

About the ballot pack

Your ballot pack will be delivered in a large envelope. We have sent it to the address on your postal vote application form and have emailed you a copy of this address.

Your ballot pack contains:

  • Stapled main ballot pack, including instruction sheet
  • Extra loose ballots for Indigenous, International, Graduate and Southbank students, based on your university enrolment records
  • Blank “privacy” envelope
  • Reply-paid return envelope

When completing your ballot, please leave the staple in the main pack. This helps make our count more efficient.

Burnley students note: There is no separate Burnley ballot paper, because these positions are uncontested. You can vote for all other positions relevant to you.

Provisional ballots: If you have been sent a provisional ballot pack (we will have emailed you to tell you), it will contain all four extra loose ballots. Please complete only the ones you are eligible for, but please return all ballots in your privacy envelope. We will separate out the ballots you’re not eligible for, in a way that preserves the secrecy of your vote.

Overseas addresses: The main ballot pack is double-sided to reduce weight.

How to complete a ballot

This is a preferential election, so your must number candidates, and you must not use ticks or crosses. If your first preference candidate doesn’t win, your vote will flow to your second preference, and so forth.

An important part of UMSU’s democracy is keeping your ballot secret: we take this very seriously, and it’s why we have supplied privacy envelopes. Not even election officials should know how you have voted. You mustn’t show your ballot to anyone, and you should fill your own ballot out yourself (a friend can help if you have difficulty reading or writing). Do not take a photo of your ballot, and do not post a picture of your ballot on social media.

You can complete your ballot in a blue or black pen, or in pencil.

For single member positions, where there is only one vacancy, you should number the candidates in order of your preference. Ensure the number 1 is next to your most preferred candidate. You can number as many or as few boxes as you want (including leaving every box blank), but please number consecutively.

Example diagram:

[Diagram showing a ballot completed. On the left hand side, a consecutive sequence of numbers is placed on every box. An annotation says 'number the boxes in order of your preference' and another says 'number your most preferred candidate: 1'. On the right hand side, the sequence runs 1, 2, 3 even though there are five boxes. An annotation says 'You don't need to number every box']

The single member positions are: President, General Secretary, the ‘Officer’ positions, the special representatives on Students’ Council, the representative on University Council.


For multi-member positions, where there are multiple vacancies, you have two choices on how to vote. The ballot is divided into two by a thick, horizontal line, and you may:

Either vote “above the line”, by numbering the tickets (teams) above the line in order of preference,

Or vote “below the line”, by numbering individual candidates in order of preference.

For each ballot, you should vote either above the line or below the line, but not both. If you vote above the line, this will be taken as voting for all candidates (in order) in the team you preference “1”, and then all candidates (in order) in the team you preference “2”, and so on. Voting above the line is faster, while voting below the line gives you more control on how your vote is distributed.

Example diagram for an “above the line” vote:

[Diagram showing an above-the-line ballot completed. A thick horizontal line divides the ballot in two. Above the line, two of the three boxes for teams are numbered, with an annotation saying 'Number above the line in order of your preference'. You can number as many or as few as you like. The area below the line is marked with a large X and the annotation 'If voting above the line, leave this area blank.]

Example diagram for a “below the line” vote:

[Diagram showing a below-the-line ballot completed. A thick horizontal line divides the ballot in two. Below the line, boxes for various candidates are numbered in sequence. An annotation says 'Number below the line in order of preference. Your sequence should be consecutive but otherwise you can vote in whatever order you want'. You can number as many or as few as you like. The area above the line is marked with a large X and the annotation 'If voting below the line, leave this area blank'.]

The multi member positions are: Students’ Council, all Committees, the National Union of Students (NUS) delegate.


If you make a mistake, clearly cross out the incorrect numbers and clearly write the correct numbers. If there’s no space, you can write outside the boxes, but please make it as clear as possible. We won’t have time to mail you a fresh ballot paper.

Some positions are for restricted constituencies: Women, Queer, People of Colour and Disabilities. These are sorted at the end of your main pack. You should vote for these only if you identify as a member of the relevant group. The ballot papers themselves contain instructions on this.

If you are not eligible to vote for these positions, leave the relevant ballot papers blank and return them. Don’t de-staple them from the pack.

How to pack your envelope for return

Once you have finished your ballot, it’s time to return it. Follow these steps:

  1. Place your completed ballot pack (including any loose-leaf sheets) inside the blank privacy envelope. Do not write anything on the blank envelope. You will (probably) need to fold your ballot pack to fit it in the envelope.
  2. Seal the privacy envelope.
  3. Place the privacy envelope inside the reply-paid envelope.
  4. Seal the reply-paid envelope.
  5. On the back of the reply paid envelope, write your name, your University of Melbourne student number and sign the back of the reply-paid envelope.
  6. Place the envelope in a post box. It’s pre-addressed and reply paid, so you don’t need a stamp, and you don’t need to write our address. Overseas addresses: Your reply paid envelope is reply paid for return to Australia; you don’t need a stamp.

It’s important that you write your details on the reply-paid envelope. If you don’t write your name, student number, and sign the envelope, we will not be able to count your vote. The back of your reply paid envelope should look like:

[Diagram showing the back of an evelope. The student's name is on the top line, their student number is the second line, and their signature is the third line.]

Please use the same name that you used on your postal vote application (or your name on the University’s enrolment records).

Please carefully check your student number. If your student number isn’t correct, we cannot count your vote. You can find your student number on your student ID card, or on my.unimelb.

Deadline

For addresses in Australia, the Electoral Regulations specify the deadline is the tenth Academic Day after the Friday of election week, which will be Friday, 25th September. The Returning Officer has ruled that ballots received after the deadline, but before counting commences, will be accepted. We do not expect counting will start until after Friday, 16th October.

We are aware Australia Post has experienced significant delays because of the coronavirus (Covid19) pandemic, and consequent restrictions imposed by the Victorian and federal governments. The Returning Officer has made this ruling so as to ensure as many votes as possible can be counted.

You can help us by posting your ballot back as soon as possible after getting it (while continuing to comply with government rules). Even though ballots received after the deadline will be accepted, you should still return it as soon as you can, as this will maximise the chance your vote will be counted, even if the ruling is challenged. (It also greatly helps us administer the election.)

The Returning Officer’s formal ruling (PDF) sets out the full reasoning.

For addresses outside Australia, the Electoral Regulations specify a deadline of 35 academic days, which is Friday, 30th October. (Subject to University decisions on the placement of holidays.) In the event counting has not started by then, the ruling above will apply to ballots from overseas, as well.

We are aware international post is experiencing severe delays, and that some countries’ postal services are not accepting international mail. For those countries, we are contacting students on a case-by-case basis.

We have sent overseas ballots by International Express post to get them to you as quickly as possible.

Other information

Questions

If you have any questions, please contact Deputy Returning Officer Stephen Luntz: sluntz@unimelb.edu.au.

Counting and results

In accordance with the Electoral Regulations, counting has not commenced because of the number of outstanding postal votes. Counting may also be delayed by government restrictions. At this time we do not have an estimate of when counting will commence, but we will be in contact with candidates (or the authorising officers of tickets, for candidates on a ticket) when we know more.

All ballot envelopes are securely stored in the meantime.

Secrecy

Your vote is secret: you should not show it to anyone, not even electoral officials. When your ballot is received, we check the outer envelope against the electoral roll. If your ballot is accepted into the count, we will remove the blank privacy envelope, which will be mixed with all the other blank envelopes, before they are opened. This way, your ballot (contained in the blank privacy envelope) cannot be linked to the envelope with your name on it.