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Canada at the Polls!

7. Guide for the School Election Officer


Electing a Student Council: A Step-by-Step Guide

This section is intended for the person responsible for conducting student elections at your school, called in this kit the "school election officer." This guide can be used on its own and explains, clearly and simply, the steps involved in electing a student council. The information it contains is based on examples and suggestions that are suitable for most elections of this kind.

Electing a student council helps promote a favourable environment for student life. By choosing their own representatives, students also gain a better understanding of the electoral process.

We recommend announcing the election at a school assembly and inviting students to contact the school election officer for further information.

The election should be organized democratically and in a non-partisan way. Remind the student electors that they should not base their choice on a candidate's popularity but should instead choose the person best suited for the job in view of his abilities and skills, bearing in mind that the school's image is involved.

To facilitate the process, we have included explanatory notes on the various stages in an election, an electoral calendar (based on a 17-day period, although a federal election or referendum extends over a minimum of 36 days), a sample election announcement and a file of useful material for candidates. Use what you need and make any necessary changes. The process of planning a fair and equitable election will make this an interesting and satisfying exercise.

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As the school election officer you must post the electoral calendar, the election announcement, the list of positions available and the duties of each position; prepare the candidate nomination forms; and receive the completed forms. See samples of an electoral calendar and announcement.


During the nomination period, make sure that anyone interested in running for office has access to the election regulations and the conditions of candidate eligibility. Once the candidates have been confirmed, prepare the ballots listing the names of the candidates, by position and in alphabetical order. See sample of ballot paper.


To make sure all students get the necessary information about the election, we recommend that you make a short presentation explaining the election process during an assembly. You should clarify the roles and responsibilities of the various positions and explain how to get a nomination form. Your presentation should be as informative and interesting as possible in order to give your audience a good idea of what being involved in school politics is all about.


Any full-time student has the right to seek election to the student council.


To run for election, a student must:

In addition, a candidate must submit his curriculum vitae and fill out the candidacy confirmation form.


Candidates should possess the following qualifications:

Often, to run for president, a student must also be in the final two years of secondary school.


Candidates must make a $20 deposit when they hand in their nomination papers. The elections office will give the candidates a $20 school photocopying voucher, once their eligibility has been confirmed, so they can make photocopies at school, during designated times. Candidates are also allowed to raise up to $20 in funds, over and above the $20 photocopying credit, to purchase and make use of other election materials with prior approval from the school election officer. The total proposed budget for the candidate is therefore $40.

Candidates must keep a record of all expenses incurred and funds raised. Upon receiving the candidate's expense report (see form), the school election officer returns the $20 deposit to the candidate. Should the candidate fail to provide a detailed expenses report before 11:00 a.m. on the day after polling day, the candidate will not be reimbursed for the $20 deposit and may be disqualified.


Official candidates can be nominated at an assembly. The nomination establishes contact between voters and candidates and can be a very effective public relations tool for all those involved in the campaigning process. So make it interesting with the help of props, audio or visual aids.


The voters list is a complete list of the students eligible to vote. Every full-time student at the school where the elections are being held is eligible to vote. Ask the school office for the most up-to-date list of students. Only students who are enrolled are eligible to vote. If a student’s name does not appear on the voters list, send the student to the school office, which will issue a note certifying that he is indeed a full-time student at the school.


Campaigning is the only way candidates have to let people know they are running for office and to get their message out to student electors. Provide student electors with a little bit of information about the election and your election policies every day through daily announcements or in other ways. Candidates should try to put up posters and other types of printed material, as well as planning some skits and publicity stunts, so that student electors are not just looking at printed material but are exposed to a variety of promotional vehicles.


All candidates, including those who might win by acclamation, should be required to make a speech. Speeches should not last longer than five minutes.

Speeches can be followed by a press conference to give listeners an opportunity to clarify the points raised. Students should also be informed of the rules for this press conference: raise your hand to ask a question; when recognized, stand up and identify yourself (e.g. I am xyz from radio, television station, newspaper, magazine) and name the candidate to whom the question is addressed. Students may each ask only one question: preambles, additional questions or debates are not allowed. By following these instructions, you will avoid a lot of problems.


You may choose to organize a debate to help student voters better understand the position of each candidate. Debates are also an opportunity for the candidates to display their talents in public one last time. Debates can degenerate, however, leading to personal attacks. Also, debates are usually more difficult to organize and control than speeches and press conferences.


Election day is the day when student electors have the opportunity to vote for the candidate they believe will best represent them. A timetable of polling hours should be made up and posted at least a week before election day to inform electors where and when they can vote. It is also recommended that you set up polling stations (see model) in high-traffic areas in order to attract as many voters as you can on election day, ensuring, however, that electors can still vote in secret without difficulty. Follow the ordinary voting procedures.


Election results must be published as soon as they are available. To tally the results, refer to the section on counting the vote. After you announce the results, we suggest that you introduce the elected candidates. Once elected, members of the student council will work together on an action plan to improve the quality of life for all students in the school. This is a good time to invite students to make any suggestions in this regard.


It is also a good idea for the elected candidates to say a few words after the election results have been announced. Words of thanks are especially appreciated at this time. They should also include a few words of encouragement to their teammates and inform the electorate that they will keep the promises they made during their campaign. They could also take the opportunity to include a few words about their action plan and to rally their fellow students, who may have been divided during the campaign.


What else is there to say ... it's time to celebrate all the work that has been done and the results achieved. Although some may omit this last step, it is a good way of thanking those who organized the elections for their hard work and also an opportunity to wish the newly elected members success during their term in office. This is also a social occasion, conducive to a better working relationship between the newly elected members and the electorate – you never know when you will need some good volunteers!

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Electoral Calendar

Day Date Time Event Location
17 to 13     school election officer begins distributing information; start of the nomination period assemblies; student council bulletin board; office of the school election officer
10 and 9     information session for potential candidates classroom or other suitable location
8   4:30 p.m. end of nomination period; verification of candidate eligibility office of the school election officer
7   1:00 p.m. publication and posting of list of official candidates school newspaper, cafeteria or gym bulletin board
7 to 1     campaigning entire school
6   12:30 p.m. candidate speeches, followed by press conference school auditorium or gym
3   12:30 p.m. candidate speeches school auditorium or gym
2 and 1     obtain the voters list school office
0   according to the posted schedule ELECTION DAY high-traffic locations
-1   12:30 p.m. school election officer announces results and introduces the elected candidates assemblies; student council bulletin board; office of the school election officer


Sample Announcement of Student Elections

Your student elections
will be held on


We are looking for a president, vice-president and secretary.

Are you interested in running
or do you know anyone who could represent
your school well?

Get your nomination form
from the school election officer.

This form must be completed and handed in to the
elections office by 4:30 p.m. on


All students have the right to vote!
this is your chance to make your voice heard!

The student council will also include
representatives for each grade,
who will also be elected.


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Material for Candidates

Guidelines for Candidates

Good luck in your campaign!


Nomination Papers



Candidate's name



Name of party (if applicable)






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Statement of Candidate Accepting Nomination

I, the undersigned, the nominee in these nomination papers, do solemnly affirm the following:


Position sought


Print your name clearly in block letters


Signature and student number of nominated candidate                                                Date                       



For office use only:

Nomination papers received on _______________________at ________with a $20 deposit (if applicable).
Date                                     Time

Signature of school election officer ________________________________________________________


The deadline for submission of this nomination paper is 4:30 p.m. on _____________________

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Electors Supporting the Nomination

I, the undersigned, support: _____________________________________________________________
                                                                                         Name of candidate


as candidate for election to the position of: _________________________________________________
                                                                                                         Position sought


Name of elector
(print in block letters)
Student ID# Grade Signature of elctor


Confirmation of Nomination

Name of candidate: ___________________________________________________________________

Student ID number: _______________________________________ Grade: ______________________

Position sought: ______________________________________________________________________

Telephone: ______________________________________ E-mail: _____________________________


Declaration of Candidate

  1. Having been duly nominated and confirmed as a candidate in the upcoming elections, I understand the election rules and agree to abide by them. Any failure to do so will result in my being disqualified as a candidate. I have attended at least one information session.

  2. I understand that any and all publicity materials used in my campaign must be approved by the school election officer.

  3. I understand that I am fully responsible for all election-related materials used by me or my team.

  4. I understand that I can be disqualified if my expenses report is not presented on time or if I exceed my budget limit.

  5. I have received the list of all deadlines associated with the campaign period.

  6. My campaign director (if applicable) is: _____________________________________________

  7. My candidate’s representative is: _________________________________________________


__________________________________     _____________________________
Signature of candidate                                      Date and time


Signature of school election officer


Election Rules

  1. All election material must be approved by the school election officer. Posters are to be put up only in approved areas of the school. All campaigning must be conducted inside the school.

  2. Election material must be free of any defamatory or discriminatory drawings, statements or connotations of any sort. All election publicity should respect individual privacy and be in good taste.

  3. All publicity work (making posters, etc.) must be done outside school hours, unless it is being done as part of a course or special permission is received from the teacher.

  4. Candidates must not exceed their allotted budgets.

  5. All expenses must be backed up with receipts.

  6. All posters and other electoral material must be removed before 4:30 p.m. on the day before election day.

  7. All class presentations by candidates must be approved in advance by the school election officer and the teacher in question.

  8. Candidates must not solicit votes during the day of the election in or around polling stations.

  9. Distributing promotional items that are considered to have a commercial value to student electors is not permissible as it may be seen as purchasing a vote. It is wise to have promotional material intended for distribution approved by the school election officer rather than risk having the material confiscated or being disqualified.

  10. Candidates must complete their nomination papers and return them to the returning officer before the deadline indicated on the nomination papers.

  11. Any candidate breaking the above rules may be disqualified.

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Curriculum Vitae

Image sample of a curriculum vitae

Image sample of a curriculum vitae


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Candidate's Report on Election Expenses

Receipt number Item Cost


____________________________________                    _______________________________
Signature                                                                         Date



Note: Keep all your bills/receipts; they should be attached to this list.


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