So You Want to Run an SGA Election: Read this First (Checklist + Free Sample Ballot Template)

Check these key items before electing your student government partners for a seamless, stress-free voting experience.
Sarah Diamond
Written by Sarah Diamond


Check these key items before electing your student government for a seamless, stress-free voting experience


Is your SGA election coming up fast? By now, your Election Board probably thinks officer elections are old hat.

But processes are meant to be improved, and luckily online voting platforms have made these events even easier. Gone are the days where you ship off incomplete ballots or forget to include a candidate’s headshot – we simply don’t let you.

eBallot software comes with a built-in checklist to bring those last-minute errors to your attention.

If you’re undecided about electronic voting, don’t fret. Paper ballots are still widely used across many organizations, yet their merits are somewhat debatable.



See how online voting will make your next student government election easy. Have a look at our SGA sample ballot!

Download Now



Regardless of method, these are the key items you’ll need to double (perhaps triple) check before your ballot opens.


When planning your vote, make sure that:

  • You’re following your SGA constitution guidelines. A student government association constitution will clearly indicate election procedures and designate which voting methods are appropriate. In a candidate election, it’s normal for candidates to apply for the vacant seats, then appear before a committee or congress for an interview. Once the candidates are accepted (usually based on good standing with the university), they can begin campaigning.

As a member of the election board, you’re tasked with ensuring a fair and secure voting process. Any ballot you create must have:

  • You have a clear and legible title. This one is fairly obvious, but even the simplest of fields can sometimes be overlooked. Ensure your voters know exactly what they’re voting on by choosing an easily understood and recognizable ballot name.
  • Candidate profiles are complete with an image, brief bio, or explanation of candidacy. Some factors that indicate candidate legitimacy are: whether or not they’re a full-time student, whether they meet the minimum required GPA, and if they’ve met the standards for attendance. Their bio should include their credentials, as well as a statement of why they should be chosen for office. The more information you present, the more informed your voter’s decision will be.
  • You include voting instructions. Ballot instructions usually appear either at the top of the ballot or above each question. To make your vote foolproof, send out an informational email or letter a few weeks before the event. Explain the intent of the vote and you might want to include details about the general voting process, including submission and tabulation.
  • There's a voter list. What good is a ballot without voters? You’ll want to gather the names and email addresses of anyone involved in the election process, whether it’s the solely the election board or all members of the clubs the officers will represent. Voters will be outlined in your club constitution.
  • You define a designated open and close time. Whether your election lasts a day or a week, you should always share the open and close dates with your voters. This will help improve your voter turnout – ensuring more eyes on your ballot and more accurate results. 
  • Notification and reminder campaigns are there to ramp up voter turnout. Speaking of turnout, a general ballot announcement sometimes isn’t enough. To make the most out of your election, send a reminder email a couple of days before the event reiterating the voting process and ballot instructions. If your election lasts more than a day, you might also consider sending out reminder emails to club members who haven’t voted yet.
  • It's accessibile. A fair vote means that everyone gets their voice heard. Paper ballots don’t require advanced tech skills and can be filled out anywhere –  meaning students can participate regardless of location or ability. For a fair and convenient election, you may want to try online voting. Our voting software lets students access their ballots using their desktop or mobile phones (voting while binge watching Netflix, anyone?)
  • There's an anonymous or secret voting process. Some university clubs require a secret ballot; others prefer to see a name behind a vote. This is one key aspect of your vote that could be contested later on, so choose a process and know how to defend it in order to avoid a grievance.
  • You use secure and fair tabulation. If you’re using paper ballots, then the chances are you’re counting them manually. This process usually requires a monitor to audit counting, as well as a safe system for storing the votes. Because human error is inevitable, accurate tabulation often requires more than one recount. To be safe, implement an electronic software system that counts votes for you, and stores them in a secure server where they’ll be accessible anytime.


Whether you’re using traditional voting methods or want to explore a new online voting platform, we want to make your student government election a success. We’ve created a handy ballot template to help get you started.



Get your free sample ballot here.

Download Now


P.S. Paper works just fine, but digital is better. To unlock features not possible with paper ballots, explore our online voting solutions.

Check them out here to improve your next club election experience!

Originally published Feb 2, 2018, updated February 13, 2018

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