by Dan Spoone
ACB is a truly democratic organization, and member voting for our officers and board of directors is a fundamental tenet of our democratic philosophy. We were not able to hold elections at last year’s convention due to the constitutional requirement for individual member voting to be executed in secret with a paper ballot. ACB is incorporated in the District of Columbia and is subject to the D.C. Nonprofit Corporation Act. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, D.C.’s mayor enacted an emergency provision of the D.C. Code allowing membership organizations to override their bylaws to hold elections during virtual business meetings. ACB’s board of directors established an ad hoc voting task force at its Nov. 14 meeting to explore the possibility of holding elections at the 2021 convention.
The voting task force went to work. Their task was to validate the authority for ACB to hold elections, establish a process for conducting the elections and communicating the approach to the ACB membership. The task force is to be congratulated on their efforts to set the stage for 13 candidate elections at the 2021 convention. There will be elections for the five ACB officer positions, five positions on the board of directors, and three positions on the board of publications (BOP). The task force, chaired by Patrick Sheehan and co-chaired by Jeff Thom, met five times from November through February to develop a recommendation for the virtual voting process at this year’s ACB annual business meeting.
The task force worked with the constitution and bylaws committee to validate the authority for ACB to hold elections at our virtual annual business meeting. Once the authority was established, the task force recommended that, due to the unique circumstances presented during the pandemic, additional constitution and bylaws amendments outside of elections language not be considered at the 2021 convention. In addition, the resolutions process would follow the same format as last year’s convention, with resolutions open for submission to the resolutions committee through the end of the convention. The resolutions will be considered by the resolutions committee through a series of community meetings, with the resolutions being presented to the board of directors for review and approval at a telephonic board meeting in August. The standing rules for the convention will be modified to include the special rules for elections at this year’s convention.
Since we have 13 elections to decide at the convention, voting will take place throughout the week. There will be one election ballot at each general session from Monday through Thursday. The remainder of the contests will be held on Friday. Saturday will be set aside for any overflow elections to complete the slate.
The agenda for the opening session on Sunday, July 18 will be expanded to include the approval of the standing rules for the convention, the nominating committee report of the slate of candidates for the 13 open positions and the start of the election process with a call for nominations from the floor for candidates. This process will continue until the first contested election is established.
The candidates for the announced contest will present their speakers at the start of the morning general session and individual member voting will begin. The candidates will each receive three minutes to address the membership and the nominating process will continue until the next contested election is determined.
The individual member vote will be conducted by Vote Now, an independent voting firm, with experience with supporting elections with members of our community. Vote Now has been used by GDUI for the past several years. The Vote Now process allows electronic email ballots, mobile phone ballot returns, voting by phone with touch keys or operator assistance. Each ACB member will be sent a unique voting access code to use for all 13 elections. The code will be communicated to each member via email or through the United States Postal Service in accessible format (braille or large print).
The affiliate roll call vote will take place 30 minutes after the completion of the candidates’ speeches, with the affiliate delegate answering the roll call from the ACB secretary. The roll call vote will be broadcast on Zoom and ACB Radio. The affiliate vote will be added to the individual vote to determine the winner. The election results will be announced 30 minutes before the end of the general session. This election process will continue through Thursday’s general session.
On Friday, we will hold five additional elections. Each election on Friday will take approximately 90 minutes with 30 minutes for Vote Now to set the ballot and 60 minutes for voting. Any additional contests will take place on Saturday. The length of the elections will be determined by the number of contested elections and the number of candidates running for each position. If there are three or more candidates in an election, we will follow the existing practice of having a runoff election with the top two candidates, if no candidate receives over 50% of the vote in the first ballot.
We congratulate the task force for all of its hard work in establishing this voting process. We encourage our members to remain patient. This is all new for us. Together we will exercise our most fundamental right of democratic participation through our membership vote. Please refer to the articles in this issue of the Forum on the BOP Candidates’ Pages and the Candidates’ Forums. Happy voting!