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Online elections - essential information

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Ensure you are fully informed and following the guidelines to nominating and voting appropriately.

Find out more about online elections


  • BMA code of conduct

    As a BMA member and by nominating yourself for election, you agree to uphold and abide by the BMA code of conduct and behaviour principles:

    • Be professional
    • Be accountable
    • Respect others
    • Be representative
    • Be kind

    The BMA can only function with the contributions of those members who seek election as representatives. In order that elected representatives work together effectively, on standing for election, members agree to uphold the principles outlined in this code of conduct.

    Candidates will abide by electoral bylaws and respect other candidates. Members will not put pressure on other members, or staff, to favour a particular candidate.

    The decisions of the elections team are final and should be respected.

  • Memorandum of understanding

    The elections memorandum of understanding will apply to all committee members and posts in the BMA. Candidates for election to posts will be asked to declare that they have read the memorandum of understanding when submitting their nominations.

    The BMA can only function with the contributions of those members who seek election as representatives. Thank you for making the commitment to help represent your colleagues. In order that elected BMA representatives can work together effectively the following principles are important.


    Please read before submitting your nomination:

    • When you are speaking to or communicating in the broadcast, print or social media as an elected BMA representative, or are identified as such, you must honestly represent the views of the BMA.
    • When speaking in a personal capacity you should explicitly ask not to be identified as an elected BMA representative.
    • Committee officers must coordinate media engagements with the press office.
    • You must declare conflicts of interest to your committee chair / committee secretary as appropriate.
    • You must uphold the confidentiality of your committee when requested. If in doubt, ask the committee chair.
    • As a member of the medical profession and as an elected representative, you must behave in a professional manner at all times. Robust debate is sometimes essential in forming policy, but you must always treat patients, colleagues and staff with respect.
    • In standing for election you agree to uphold these principles.
  • Candidate statement guidelines

    Word length

    Your statement must be no longer than 100 words for the elections unless otherwise stated. That includes for example dates and abbreviations. For online elections, once you have reached the limit the system will not permit you to type anything further in the space provided.


    Role profile and skills

    First, read the role profile and skills needed for that role and make sure that your statement is relevant. You could use real life examples of where you have demonstrated that you have the skills needed.


    Don't write in All CAPITALS

    Writing in all-capital letters may come across as if you are shouting, as will the use of exclamation marks. Consider other ways to get your message across while conveying its importance.



    Recognised BMA and other abbreviations can help you keep within the word limit but make sure they are easily understood. It's better to spell it out and write what you mean.


    Be concise

    Do not make a candidate statement longer than it needs to be. Text online is harder to read than printed communications. A long statement can be discouraging and be abandoned before the recipient gets to your final point all the way down at the bottom.



    Avoid humour and irony which can be misunderstood. It is always best to keep the tone professional and business like. Discriminatory, unpleasant or negative comments could constitute harassment and are not acceptable. If these are found in your statement, you will be asked to remove them.


    External links

    No hyperlinks are permitted within an individual’s candidate statement, including links to websites, YouTube accounts or any other electronic media. Depending on the election you may be able to upload a photo or video.


    Review your statement

    Allow plenty of time to complete your statement and revisit it before the close of nominations. When you return to it, read it through from the recipient's perspective. This can help you avoid any unintended consequences.

    Check before you save. Although you can go in and edit your statement up to the time when nominations close, once the deadline has passed you cannot change it. You should therefore treat a nomination form like any other official document. Read it before you save it. Errors are just as unfortunate in candidate statements as anywhere else in your corporate correspondence. Look out for potential misunderstandings, and check for tone, and inappropriate comments. Negative comments about other candidates will be removed.

    Remember that you are responsible for content - the election team will not amend grammar and spelling. The elections team will contact you if there is a problem with your statement. If you do not respond within the time limit set by the elections team, they will amend as necessary.

    Any civil or criminal liability in respect of publishing or copying an election address rests solely with the candidate concerned.

  • Wording information

    Online elections aim to standardise the way elections are run across the BMA including the rules on what counts as a word, acronyms and the length of candidate statements.

    The online elections system uses the most common unspecific word counting instrument, which considers everything between two spaces a word, whether it’s a number or a symbol. So, 01 January 2018 would be three words whereas 01.01.2018 would be recognised as one word.

    Members are free to use acronyms but should note that some voting members may not be familiar with them.

  • Voting

    What is STV?

    The STV (Single Transferable Vote) is a form of proportional representation where you rank the candidates. Candidates don't need a majority of votes to be elected, just a known 'quota', or share of the votes, determined by the size of the electorate and the number of positions to be filled.

    Each voter gets one vote, which can transfer from their first-preference to their second preference, so if your preferred candidate has no chance of being elected, or has enough votes already, your vote is transferred to another candidate in accordance with your instructions.

    STV thus ensures that very few votes are wasted, unlike other systems, especially First Past the Post, where only a small number of votes actually contribute to the result.


    What are the benefits of STV?

    STV gives voters more choice than any other system. This in turn puts most power in the hands of the voters.

    Fewer votes are 'wasted' (ie cast for losing candidates or unnecessarily cast for the winner) under STV. This means that most voters can identify a representative that they personally helped to elect. Such a link in turn increases a representative's accountability.



    Canvassing for votes is an integral part of an election. However, candidates must not use BMA resources to canvas voters and should not send unsolicited communications to them, but they can use social media to encourage votes.

    Candidates should think carefully about using other networks to support their candidacy.

    Here are some dos and don'ts of canvassing:

    • Do role model BMA behaviours at all times in the election process
    • Do highlight your strengths and experience
    • Don't post negative comments about rival candidates
    • Do contact the secretariat immediately if you believe other candidates are behaving inappropriately
    • Do discourage heckling during any hustings or on social media
    • Don't put pressure on people to vote for you or ask others to do the same
    • Don't make promises you can't keep - you will be held to account in the next round of elections

    If you're not sure what is and is not acceptable, ask for advice from the secretariat.

  • Terminology guide

    Access the list of acronyms commonly used in BMA elections:

    Terminology guide

  • Contact us

    For any questions on eligibility to nominate or vote or about the election process please contact [email protected]

    To check or update your membership details please visit the BMA membership section