Deputy Returning Officer

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Deputy Returning Officers
Eus elections logo.png

A Deputy Returning Officer (DRO) is a person in charge of organizing and supervising their departmental society's election. This consists of ensuring awareness of campaigning and election bylaws, encouraging voters to be informed and vote, and moderating anything in between. The DROs have the Chief Returning Officer as a reference.


Election Creation and Administration

The Axolotl voting system is a bit of an ancient dinosaur. However, it was created for the specific needs of the EUS, so it still serves us nicely. Follow the steps below to create and run your election.

1. Prepare Voter Data

  • Get the list of eligible voters and their information from the CRO.
  • Edit the list such that only the following columns remain, in this order:
Username (Email address)
First name (given name)
Last name (family name)
Email address (usually same as the Username)
Year (i.e. 0,1,2,3,4)
"Faculty of Engineering"

File:Axolotl example excel setup.png

  • Remove rows which are not needed for this election.
    • Example: if you are the ChESS DRO, remove all rows except those of Chemical Engineering Students.
    • Example: if you are running an election/referendum for only U2s, remove all rows except those of U2 students.
      • NOTE: if you are running an election for class representatives, you do not need to create separate elections for each year - you will have the option to make election questions available to only one year later on.
  • Save the resulting file as "voters.csv"
  • Edit the voters.csv file in a text editor (e.g. Notepad++). Find and replace all commas (,) with semicolons (;). Your end result should look like this:

File:Axolotl example excel csv.png

2. Prepare Candidate and Referendum Data

  • Organize your candidates' blurbs and/or your referendum questions into a text document that you can easily copy-paste from later on.
  • There is minimal formatting available when you put writing into Axolotl. Only line breaks and spacing are available, no bold or italic text.
  • A candidate election and referendum questions can be placed on the same ballot, with some exceptions - see below.

3. Create Election

(Recommended) Go through this process once with a test election. This will avoid running into any bugs in the later stages and losing your copy-pasting progress.

  • Navigate to, and click on the "Administration" button in the top left corner.
  • Ogle at your department's previous elections, but no touchey! Scroll down and click "Create a New Election".
  • Enter the election name. Copy-paste the candidate and/or referendum information from the text document you created in Step 2.
  • Special cases:
    • For candidate positions who may only receive votes from one year (i.e. class representatives), specify that year in the box provided. If multiple, but not all years can vote on a candidate position, enter the years separated by a semicolon (e.g. 2;3). If all years can vote on a candidate position, leave the field blank.
    • For candidate positions that will be filled by multiple people, put the appropriate number of votes available in the field to the right. For example, if a voter may select two candidates, put "2".
  • Click "Next"
  • Enter the email you wish to send to voters, including <<firstname>>, <<lastname>>, and <<link>> where required. <<link>> provides the unique link to each voter, so it must be included.
    • To insert line breaks, use
      . Two line breaks

      are needed to have a line of white space.
  • Click "Create Election"

If you made a mistake at any point in this process, you may either delete the election and start again, or contact the IT Director so they may make changes manually in the database.

4. Add Voters

  • You're now on the Election Administration page. Go to your new election at the top of the list, select "Add Voters from File", and click "Perform".
  • Upload your voters.csv file, then click "Process File". If any errors are reported, fix them, then re-upload and re-process.
  • Verify that the number of added voters matches the number of voters in your spreadsheet.

Return to the Election Administration page.

5. Open Election

  • Select "Open Election" from the drop-down menu and click "Perform".
  • Your ballots are now being sent. Due to outputs set by McGill's spam filters, the system send a maximum of 30 emails per minute. The emails are sent server-side, so after waiting about 30 seconds to make sure there are no startup errors, you are safe to close your computer. However, this is not recommended, because there's currently no "nice" way to track the sending progress of emails. As a workaround, verbose output is enabled, meaning there is an output at the bottom of the page.
    • To see how many emails have been sent so far: pick a string of text that is output only once per email and enter it in the CTRL+F search box. The number of instances is the number of emails sent so far.
  • After emails are sent, the number of successes will be reported.
  • If you would like to send another round of ballots, perform "Resend Ballot Emails" from the drop-down menu. If you would like to change the email message between rounds of emails, contact the IT Director.

6. Polling Stations

Polling stations allow you to cast ballots for students in-person.

  • Perform "Manage Polling Station Users" from the drop-down menu.
  • Click "Create a New User". Enter a username and password for the person that will be managing the polling station (whether or not it is you that will be running the polling station, this is required).
  • Click "Back to Polling Station Administration", then "Jump to Polling Central". Enter the username and password you just created, along with a temporary admin password.
  • When a friendly student approaches you, ask for their student ID to verify that they are eligible to vote in this election. Then, enter their email and the temporary admin password into the designated boxes, and "Proceed to Ballot". The student can then cast their ballot.

7. Close Election

  • Perform "Close Election" from the drop-down menu. Careful! Once you close an election, you cannot re-open it.
  • Perform "View Results" to view the election results. These results are not yet visible to the public, and are more detailed than the publicly-available results.
  • Perform "Release Results" to make the results available to the public via a link on the Axolotl home page.
  • Do not delete your election unless you want made a mistake and want it to be erased - election results are kept on the Axolotl home page as a reference.

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