Every autumn, the student union hosts representative elections. In this blog, we will tell you about the essential stages of the election and what they mean.
But what exactly is the essence of these elections?
In essence, elections are a democratic means of selecting individuals to represent a larger group. In our context, this means that members elect representatives from their own ranks to serve on the representative council, where they make decisions on behalf of the entire student union.
This practice of electing representatives is not unique to student elections; it’s a fundamental process that occurs at various levels of society, ranging from local associations and sports clubs to parishes, municipalities, and even in the context of national and international politics, such as parliamentary, European Parliament, and presidential elections.
During these elections, we aim to choose the candidates who best align with our values and viewpoints to advocate for us. Ideally, amidst the diverse pool of candidates, there will be one whose principles resonate with ours. Each member possesses an equal vote, and in its simplest form, candidates receiving the most votes are elected. The election process is more intricate and involves a bit of math, but don’t worry; in this blog post, we’ll explain the intricacies of how elections and candidate selection actually work.
Running as a Candidate: Solo or with Allies
In student union representative elections, candidates have the option to run as independent candidates or as part of an electoral alliance. Additionally, non-committed candidates and/or electoral alliances can also form an electoral list together. Each of these three options has its unique “list.”
But what’s the significance of these choices? It all ties back to the election method; student council elections operate on a proportional list system, where the selection of representatives corresponds to the number of votes garnered by each list. In this calculation, the D’Hondt method comes into play to tally the votes and determine the outcome. The D’Hondt method involves calculating a list comparison number and, in the case of electoral lists, a ring comparison number for each candidate, which is instrumental in determining the ultimate selections. More information on the voting method can be found at the end of this blog.
The election process commences with an election announcement, which is disseminated through various channels of the student union. The election announcement provides comprehensive details, including key dates, guidelines for running for office, and the procedure for conducting the elections.
Standing for election
During the nomination period, eligible individuals can express their intention to run for a position in the representative council. Eligibility for candidacy extends to all members who have fulfilled their membership obligations to Häme University of Applied Sciences’ student union and have enrolled as present students for the academic year in which the elections take place. What do these membership obligations entail? Essentially, it means that your membership is valid, and registered as a current student for the ongoing academic year.
Nominations are submitted through an electronic form, the link to which becomes available when the nomination period commences, coinciding with the start of the campaign period.
The Central Electoral Committee verifies the eligibility of candidates, with the authority to disqualify candidates who fail to meet necessary requirements, like not being a member of the student union or having an absentee status of their studies. Subsequently, candidate numbers are randomly assigned to each candidate, and the resulting list of candidates with their respective numbers is made available on the student union’s website. Furthermore, the candidate roster or list is shared on social media. In particular, sector-specific election coalitions and rings showcase their candidates through their own communication channels. Once the campaign period concludes, the official election process begins.
Typically, the election period spans three days, and voting is conducted electronically. Members of the student union receive a link to an electronic form via their student email, allowing them to cast their votes. After the election period’s conclusion, the Central Electoral Committee validates the election results, and the outcomes are publicly disclosed. It’s worth noting that the D’Hondt method, a widely used voting system in Finland, including parliamentary elections, is employed to tally the votes.
D’Hondt Method Ensuring Fair Selection
The D’Hondt method operates by first summing up the votes for each list. Following this, the individuals who stood as candidates within the list are ranked according to their personal vote counts. In other words, the candidate with the highest number of votes is ranked first, the second-highest second, and so forth.
Subsequently, each candidate is assigned a comparison number, which is determined based on the overall vote tally. The candidate at the top of the personal vote count ranking receives the entire sum as their comparison number, the second receives half of the total, the third receives one-third, and so on. This process is applied to both independent candidates and candidates within electoral alliances, ensuring that every candidate has their own comparison number.
Does this sound complex? We delve deeper into the workings of the D’Hondt method in this blog.
As we’ve discussed in this blog, elections consist of several steps, including candidate registration, campaigning, and voting. It is important to understand that every vote counts in representative elections, and they offer students the opportunity to directly influence decisions that affect their education and study environment.
Remember that voting in elections is of the utmost importance. It’s your chance to voice your opinion and elect representatives who share your values and goals. Don’t forget to follow the candidates‘ campaigns and critically evaluate their proposals before you vote.
Representative elections can shape the future of the student community, so participate actively and vote for those who best represent you and your fellow students. Thank you for reading this blog post and I hope it gave you a better understanding of the Representative Council elections and what they mean. Remember to vote and influence!