Referenda Guidelines

Referenda Guidelines

What is a Referendum?

A referendum is a vote made by AMS members where they reject or accept a proposal. Proposals in the past have included a fee for the creation of a microbrewery, a request to close the Whistler Lodge, and a request for the Gallery Lounge to be brought back.

Running a Question with the 2017 Elections

A referendum will be called if AMS Council passes a resolution to hold a referendum or if a referendum by petition is signed by at least 1000 active members and delivered to the Vice-President Academic & University Affairs. The text of the referendum shall be drafted to ensure that the question is capable of being answered “yes” or “no.”

In order, for a referendum to be held at the same voting time as the 2017 AMS Elections, it must be submitted or passed no less than 10 days and no more than 30 days before voting begins. Therefore any referendums must be submitted on or between February 8th and February 24th to be held during the AMS elections.

There will be a mandatory meeting for groups or individuals who will be coordinating referendums via petition on February 17th in the Michael Kingsmill Forum (NEST 4301) at 7:30pm.

Petitions (paper and electronic) must be submitted to the VP Academic & University Affairs (NEST 3522; with contact information for the person/group heading the petition included.

For more information on how to collect electronic signatures for your petition, please see further below.

How to Call a Referendum (any time of the year)

Have a motion passed by Council that approves the referendum question, OR

A petition signed by 5% of active members or 1000 active members, whichever is the lesser number, with their student numbers, delivered to the VP Academic and University Affairs. The lesser number this year is 1000 active members.

Once called, the referendum must take place 10 to 30 days later.

How to collect electronic signatures for your referendum petition – A Guide:

Email the VP Academic & University Affairs ( with the subject line “Online referendum petition form request”.

Your email should include:

  1. Your referendum question in its entirety
  2. You (and/or the group you are affiliated with)
  3. Contact information for you/the group you are affiliated with

You should get a response within the next 3 days with a link to a form for people to electronically sign a petition to have your referendum question on the ballot.

Electronic Signature FAQs:

Q: How many signatures will I need for it to be placed on the ballot?

A: 1000 (but you should aim for more than that!)

Q: How will I know how many people have signed my electronic petition?

A: You can email the VP Academic & University Affairs requesting to receive a signature count update. Please have the subject line “Online Petition Signature Update”, and include your question, the link to your form, your/your group’s name, and contact information in this request email. You should receive a response within 3 days with how many signatures you have collected.

Q: Can I collect signatures on paper?

A: You always have been able to, and always will be able to.

Q: Will paper AND electronic signatures be accepted for one question?

A: Yes. Try to avoid repeat signatures – but the VP Academic & University Affairs will be verifying them regardless.

Q: Who can sign the petition?

A: Active UBC students who pay AMS fees – this includes graduate students, professional programs, and those within UBC’s affiliate colleges.

Any further questions can be directed to the VP Academic & University Affairs (

How do I write a referendum question?

Please ensure your referendum question complies with the AMS Bylaws specific to referendum questions. The specific Bylaw is Bylaw 4.

If you have any questions about referendum wording, or would simply like help with phrasing your referendum question, please contact the AMS Archivist (, or swing by Nest RM 3514.

Referendum Funding

To qualify for funding, a committee petitioning either For or Against a referendum question (known as a Yes or No Committee) must:

  •         obtain a copy of the referendum handbook;
  •         submit to the Elections Committee a petition which includes:
  1. a)    the signatures and student numbers of at least 150 active members;
  2. b)    a list of members of the Yes and No committee identifying them as members of that committee;
  3. c)     A budget outlining any proposed expenditures.

Winning the Referendum

A referendum passes if it achieves quorum AND secures the appropriate majority.

Quorum requires that at least 8% of eligible voters must vote Yes. The winning side also needs to win either a simple majority (≥50%) or, if the referendum concerns AMS Bylaws or constitution, a 75% majority.

Campaign Approval

Campaign material must be approved by the Elections Committee before being posted or published. You must also follow the relevant postering policies of the AMS (for postering in the Nest) and UBC.