Members of the SSMU participate in direct democracy by voting in referenda, held once a semester (early November and early March). Referenda can be either student-initiated or council-initiated. Either way, the question must get approval by the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Elections SSMU before it can be put on the ballot. The CEO ensures that the question is neutrally posed and complies with the other rules relating to referendum questions contained in the Constitution and Bylaws.
If the referendum is Council-initiated, the Council decides whether to have a direct and binding measurement of student opinion on an issue. Usually, Council-initiated referenda are limited to issues where Council is required to get approval from the membership for some measure it wishes to undertake. When a non-binding opinion is desired, Council may also place plebiscite questions on the ballot.
Student-initiated referenda do not require the participation of Council at all. Any student may collect 500 signatures in order to have a referendum question placed on the ballot. Provided that all of the rules are properly followed, the question will be placed on the ballot at the next referendum period. It is important to note, however, that student-initiated referenda may not alter the composition of the Society’s staff or any financial matters of the SSMU.