Step 5 - When an Election is Required, and Supporting Information
If there are more valid nominations received than the number of positions advertised, a voting election must be held. Voting papers must be posted or personally delivered to all people on the electoral roll after nominations close (14 days before the election date) and by nine days before the election date.
þ Preparation of voting papers after noon on:
20/05/2016 or (../../201x)
The voting paper can be accessed in electronic form by returning officers through log-on access to the Trustee election website, here.
NOTE: If you are a returning officer running elections for a combined board of trustees you will need to use a special voting paper (Form 9).
- The names of validly nominated candidates should be entered in alphabetical order by their surnames or family names on the voting paper and the appropriate number of copies made.
- Each voting paper can be coded or numbered to ensure that voters are not able to vote more than once by duplicating their voting forms. The system used should allow you to check the number of votes exercised but should not enable voters to be identiﬁed, as this is a secret ballot. Coloured voting paper could also be considered.
- If a numbering system is used the numbers must be added randomly to the voting papers so that you are not able to ascertain from a voting paper who has voted, but are able to conﬁrm that the number is one that has been allocated.
- An alternative system is to stamp each voting paper with the school seal or some other original stamp that cannot be easily duplicated.
- Whatever system is used, the returning officer must be conﬁdent that a completed voting paper when received is the one that was issued.
- If there are more candidates than the number of spaces on the voting paper, please contact the NZSTA Election Advice Line 0800 ELECTION (0800 353 284).
- Print only the required number of voting papers.
- The official voting paper for parent representative elections (Form 5) states, “You may vote for up to (insert the number of vacancies to be ﬁlled) candidates.” Boards may have resolved to have three, four, ﬁve, six or seven positions for parent elected representatives. Make sure you insert the correct number of vacancies to be ﬁlled. The board must advise you if it has opted into the staggered (mid-term) election cycle at these triennial elections. If so, you will be required to use a special voting paper (Form 6). If the board is in the staggered (mid-term) election cycle already, the standard voting form (Form 5) must be used, but only half (refer section 101A, page 23) the number of parent representative positions on the board will be vacant.
NOTE: Voting papers must be in a separate envelope for each voter. The following must be included with them:
a) Copies of any candidates’ statements, other than statements by candidates who have withdrawn
b) The envelope in which the voting paper must be returned.
We also recommend that a voting cover letter accompany the above; see the example on page 15.
þ Post cover letter, voting paper, return addressed envelope and candidate statement by:
25/05/2016 (or ../../201x)
Please ensure that office staff at the school know and follow your requirements for the return of voting papers.
- If you intend to use a ballot box, you must ensure that it is secure and locked away each evening.
- Staff representative election. You may follow the process above or you may display notices around the school advising where and when voting papers may be collected. If you choose to do this it is advisable to keep a record of which staff have collected voting papers.
þ ELECTION DAY. Close voting at noon on:
03/06/2016 (or ../../201x)
- Voting closes at noon. You must not count votes and declare results until six days after the election date.
- At noon remove all ballot boxes to a secure place so that no more voting papers can be placed in them. Do not include any voting papers that may be handed to you after this time. Rather, take them but do not open the envelopes. Instead mark the envelopes as “Invalid: received after noon on (insert date voting closes)”.
þ Count votes and declare results on:
09/06/2016 (or ../../201x)
- Count the votes in the presence of any scrutineers.
- You may be assisted in the vote counting procedure by someone you have appointed as a clerical assistant. That person cannot be a scrutineer.
- The suggested order of proceedings is to gather all the voting papers in one place under your direct care. Open and examine all voting papers and envelopes to determine whether the votes meet the requirements for validity.
- Separate out those voting papers that you think are invalid. You should then consider each of these and decide if in fact it is valid or invalid. That decision is yours alone to make. Return the valid voting papers to the uncounted pile and count the invalid votes to get a ﬁnal total, then put them aside.
- Have a simple system to record the number of valid votes cast for each candidate.
- Count all valid votes and ascertain individual totals.
NOTE: One invalid voting paper is counted as one invalid vote regardless of how many times the paper is marked or not marked.
When an election is required - supporting information
Withdrawal of candidates
Any candidate may withdraw from election by giving written notice to the returning officer. Where this occurs you must take all reasonable steps to ensure that voters are notiﬁed of this, and if the withdrawal reduces the number of candidates standing to the same number as, or a smaller number than, the number of trustees required, that voting will no longer be required.
Voters may be notiﬁed of the withdrawal, where time allows, by public advertisement or written notice to electors, through the school newsletter, on the school website, and by prominent notices around the school.
If the withdrawal occurs after the voting papers have been distributed or too late to notify electors and the withdrawn candidate is elected, the withdrawal in effect causes a casual vacancy on the board. If the withdrawn candidate is not elected no further action is required.
SAMPLE VOTING COVER LETTER
(Insert school name) School
Board of Trustees Election
Parent representative Voting Paper
How to return your voting paper
Please read carefully before voting!
This is a postal election and the voting paper is valid only if returned in the addressed envelope provided.
1. If posting your voting paper, you must use the enclosed envelope and post it to:
Your vote will not be counted unless the envelope is postmarked before the day of the election, (insert date), and received by the returning officer not later than ﬁve days after the date of the election. Ensure that you post it as soon as possible because New Zealand Post has reduced its mail delivery service.
2. If delivering your voting paper, please ensure that it is delivered before noon on (insert date) in the enclosed envelope.
It should be taken to:
3. If your voting paper is delivered to the school, please ensure that it is delivered before noon on (insert date) in the enclosed envelope.
Voting closes on (insert date) at noon.
Signed (insert name)
For the staff election, you may prepare a voting cover letter similar to the example above.
Each voter must be given a voting paper and a separate return envelope. This should be addressed to the returning officer and titled “voting paper”.
There is no requirement for the school board to pay for return postage by placing a stamp on each envelope or arranging a freepost service. However, the board may decide to pay for the cost of return postage. If you decide to use a freepost service to have the voting papers returned through the post, you must have a clear, preferably written, agreement with an accredited postal service, specifying the frequency with which it will deliver that mail to you.
Alternatively you can arrange to call at a PostShop or mail sorting centre at regular intervals to collect the mail. One of those calls must be on the day the voting closes. If you do “call and collect” you may be required to pay the amount of postage owing at each visit. The important thing is to make sure you understand the arrangements between yourself and the accredited postal service early in the process, and preferably before nominations close.
Many voting papers are returned by hand. In this case there will be no need for postage stamps.
- The preparation and distribution of voting papers may begin immediately after the closing time for receiving nominations, and voting papers must be distributed to all people on the electoral roll by nine days before the election date.
- Staff representative election. You may follow the process above or you may display notices around the school advising where and when voting papers may be collected. If you choose to do this it is important to keep a record of which staff have collected voting papers.
- Any statements provided by the candidates must be posted/personally delivered with the voting papers.
- Completed voting papers must be returned to the returning officer in the envelopes provided or they can be delivered by hand to the returning officer until noon on election day in the envelopes provided. It is recommended that a sealed ballot box be provided at the school office under the direct supervision of a person nominated by you.
All voting papers that are returned to the school either through the post or by hand should immediately be placed in the ballot box.
NOTE: “Personally deliver or post” does not include sending a notice home through the “schoolbag post”. It does mean sending the notice through an accredited postal service, or the returning officer personally handing the notice to the individual voter.
- Make sure that voters who intend to post their votes know they should do so as early as possible before voting day. All valid voting papers that are received by you through the post before the end of the ﬁfth day after voting closes will be included and counted, provided the envelopes are postmarked with dates before election day.
During the voting process
- It is the responsibility of returning officers to receive all voting papers and ensure they are held in safe custody.
A voting paper received after noon on election day is invalid unless the voting paper was posted before election day. A vote is also invalid if:
- the voter votes more than once in the election
- the voter votes for more candidates than there are trustees to be elected
- the voting paper was not contained in the envelope included with the voting paper
- the voting paper does not, in the opinion of the returning officer, clearly indicate the candidate or candidates for whom the voter intended to vote, or
- the returning officer believes on reasonable grounds that the voting paper was not issued to the voter by the returning officer.
NOTE: A voting paper deemed to be invalid, for whatever reason, is to be recorded as one invalid vote regardless of the markings on the paper.
Appointment of scrutineers
Scrutineers are appointed as candidates’ “agents” and may be present during the time you are opening the envelopes, counting the votes and making decisions about the result of the election.
A candidate may appoint one person as a scrutineer but they cannot appoint themselves or another candidate. You must be advised, in writing, of the names (and preferably contact details) of any scrutineers before the day that voting closes.
You must advise the scrutineer(s) of when and where you will be counting the votes. You should attempt to make arrangements to suit everyone involved, but you have a timetable that must be adhered to.
A scrutineer is entitled to be present and observe the opening of envelopes containing voting papers. They may also examine the envelopes and voting papers, and then observe the counting of votes. They are not entitled to be involved in the process. If there is a tie involving a candidate represented by a scrutineer, the scrutineer is entitled to be present while you break the tie by lot (see below).
Where an equal number of valid votes have been cast for two or more candidates in any election, and the position at issue is the last to be ﬁlled, you must decide by lot which candidate is elected. For example, if there is a tie for ﬁrst place both candidates are declared elected.
However, if there are ﬁve positions being contested and four are clearly ﬁlled but there is a tie for the ﬁfth position, you need to break the tie. This decision must be made in the presence of two trustees from the existing board, or two members of staff if board members are not available in a reasonable time, and in the presence of any scrutineers representing the affected candidates. NOTE: The principal and staff representative are both members of the existing board.
Examples of “lot” are tossing a coin, cutting a pack of cards, drawing straws and pulling a name out of a hat.
Integrity of the electoral process
Voting papers may NOT be faxed or emailed as attachments. It is a postal election and each voting paper must be sent back in the return envelope that was posted out or hand delivered with the voting paper; otherwise the voting paper is invalid.
This election is by way of a secret ballot. This is the same as voting in government and local body elections. You should ﬁnd a quiet room or area to concentrate on the vote count without distractions. Access to that area should be conﬁned to any appointed assistants and scrutineers.
None of those people can communicate any information about the state of the voting or tell anyone how the votes are stacking up or provide any other information likely to defeat the secrecy of the ballot.
That state of conﬁdentiality should be maintained from the moment the ﬁrst voting paper is returned until you declare the result.