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Free and Open Elections

Discussion in 'AAW Information' started by Stuart Johnson, Nov 8, 2010.

  1. Stuart Johnson

    Stuart Johnson

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Location (City & State):
    Red Oak, Texas
    In my opinion all election results must be made in their entirety. This includes AAW BoD elections. In accordance with John's rule I have requested the BoD to either post the the total ballots cast and received by candidate or their reason to not make the results known. My original email to the executive committee and Tom's answer is posted below. I completely disagree with him.If someone wants to run for any office or position they must have a strong enough personality to withstand a loss without being embarrassed.

    As a membership we should all know the results. I received a message today from a very pro BoD member that I will not quote but it did allude to one of the candidates receiving a good majority of votes. Was that a lie, guess, wishful thinking or inside information?

    Original Email
    From: Stuart Johnson
    Sent: Monday, November 08, 2010 11:56 AM
    To: jean@woodturner.org; tom@woodturner.org; cassandra@woodturner.org; warren@woodturner.org
    Subject: Election Results

    I was informed today the election numbers will not be published. In my opinion any election where the total ballots cast and received by nominees will not be released is at best clouded. I am not saying there was any impropriety in the election or the way it was run but I do feel the totals should be made available to the members. If as a board you decide this is not to be please advise your reason.


    Stuart Johnson

    #22479

    Red Oak, Texas

    Tom's Reply
    On 11/8/2010 2:43 PM, Tom Wirsing wrote:
    >
    > Hello Stuart,
    >
    >
    >
    > Thank you or your email.
    >
    >
    >
    > The ballots for board candidates were sent directly to Harrington Langer, Certified Public Accountant, who counted all ballots and tallied the results. We directed Harington Langer not to release any information regarding the balloting to anyone other than the AAW Interim Executive Director. The Board of Directors directed that the votes be tallied by an independent CPA so that there would be no question of interference in the balloting process.
    >
    >
    >
    > There were six candidates for the board. One withdrew during the balloting process. In the final analysis three were elected to the board, and two candidates were defeated. One of the defeated candidates ran last year, and ran again this year. The other defeated candidate ran for the first time this year.
    >
    >
    >
    > The AAW wishes to encourage any and all qualified candidates to run for the Board of Directors. Releasing the details of balloting results could be embarrassing to some candidates. We have therefore chosen not to release the details of the balloting. We encourage candidates who were not elected this year to consider running again next year, and releasing the details of the balloting might discourage them from running again. By the same token, if candidates for future boards feel they run the risk of being embarrassed, that could discourage well qualified candidates from running. For these reasons we feel it is better not to release the details of the balloting.
    >
    >
    >
    > Regards,
    >
    >
    >
    > Tom
     
  2. davidwalser

    davidwalser

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    Location (City & State):
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    Purely Personal

    Stuart,

    I hope you won't mind this purely personal note, but my wife and I moved to Texas in 1993 so I could accept a position in Dallas with a national accounting firm. We spent seven glorious years just to your north in Desoto. The only thing that could have made it better is if we'd had the good sense to buy a home in Red Oak. (We actually made an offer on a couple of homes in Red Oak, but things didn't work out.) Anyway, we loved our time in Texas and I hope you enjoy Red Oak as much as we thought we would.

    If you happen to be driving north on Cockrell Hill Road from Belt Line Road, be sure to salute N. Hulgan Circle for me. It was a great place to raise a young family.

    David Walser,
    Who's just a little wistful living in Arizona.
     
  3. davidwalser

    davidwalser

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    This time for real

    Stuart,

    I agree with your position. My preference would be for the vote totals to be posted. Having said that, all I expect from the board (any board) is that they make "reasonable" decisions. I think the board's position on this question is one the current board did not create, is of long standing (so it is to be assumed the candidates may have relied on the fact that the vote totals wouldn't be posted in deciding to run), and is reasonable under the circumstances.
     
  4. Malcolm Zander

    Malcolm Zander

    Joined:
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    Location (City & State):
    Ottawa Canada
    Response to Mr. Johnson

    To the best of my knowledge, the individual vote tallies have never been made public in the whole 24-year history of the AAW.

    This being the case, three questions for Mr. Johnson:

    - Why should it be done now?

    - Why did Mr. Johnson not make this same complaint last year, in 2009? In 2008? In 2007? In 2006....

    - Why has no other member made this complaint in 24 years?

    The system is not broken; so it does not need fixing.

    Malcolm Zander
     
  5. Mark Mandell

    Mark Mandell

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    Small Word of Caution?

    Can we all not be quite so quick to pull the trigger on adversarial positions? And let's try to avoid "churning" issues that may only raise arguments. Stuart has a valid question, and is entitled to an valid answer.

    Having had a glimpse or two into NFP elections, I know that it's often times rather hard to get truly qualified people to submit themselves to both the vetting process and the election. Some can easily take a loss as personal rejection. I can understand how a bit of decorum might encourage more otherwise qualified people to submit to run for a seat on the Board.

    That the AAW has shifted the election tally and certification to an outside auditing firm is a step in the right direction, in my view.

    Aside from mere member curiosity, I'm not sure what purpose publication would serve. Dave Walser does have a good point that candidates may choose to run knowing that vote counts are not going to be published. If there's to be a change in practice, it might be better to do so publicly for next year, well in advance, and see if it has any effect on potential candidate submissions.
     
  6. AlanZ

    AlanZ Resident Techno Geek

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    Respectfully submitted for consideration.

    I too think that vote counts should be made available to members.

    When my sons went to school, class elections only published the winner names, and I disapproved of that decision too. How is a losing candidate to know if the defeat was significant or if he/she lost by a single vote? This might have a direct impact on a decision to run again next time.

    When dealing with adults (whether it be for a club election or a political position) who put themselves on a ballot, I believe that they should be mature enough to be able to cope with the actual results/counts.

    We just had local elections here, and finding out the winner was not enough... we had to know the spread in order to plan accordingly for the next election.

    Again, I believe that information is power. The more we know about any election, the more likely we are to get involved. Isolate us from the process and the data, and expect alienation.
     
  7. glenkey

    glenkey

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    Well said.
    Peace
     
  8. Mark Mandell

    Mark Mandell

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    Perhaps an alternative would be to tell an individual candidate how they did, and then let that person decide whether or not to 'advertise' their number. This is not, after all, about college board scores.

    While there's no glory in "close but . . .," each candidate who goes through the Nominating Committee vetting can take some measure of satisfaction that they were deemed qualified to be a director of the AAW. That ain't chopped liver, as we say in my neck of the woods.
     
  9. wnnelson

    wnnelson

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    I have some simple answers for you Mr Zander:

    All change has to start sometime and someone has to make the request. Mr Johnson has made a request for information that should possibly be made available to the AAW general membership. This request is valid and should be considered by the BOD and not rejected simply because it has always been done this way so should never change. Perhaps you could make a motion to discuss this issue at the next BOD meeting, that would show a openness to change which the BOD seems to want for the AAW

    The system is not broken; so it does not need fixing

    There are a lot of AAW members who didn't think the AAW system was broken but the BOD thought it needed fixing. Now those same members think the AAW is broken and would like to see much more transparency in BOD activities. Nobody is saying anything about how the election was run they would just like to see some numbers, not a unreasonable request.
     
  10. Sean Troy

    Sean Troy

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    It was never needed before. Now that the current BOD's have lost the trust of membership, it would be a welcome jesture unless there is something to hide.
     
  11. Malcolm Zander

    Malcolm Zander

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    Location (City & State):
    Ottawa Canada
    Response to Mr. Nelson

    "This request is valid and should be considered by the BOD and not rejected simply because it has always been done this way so should never change. Perhaps you could make a motion to discuss this issue at the next BOD meeting, that would show a openness to change which the BOD seems to want for the AAW"

    Fair enough. I will place this item on the agenda for discussion at the next BOD meeting.

    Malcolm Zander
     
  12. Stuart Johnson

    Stuart Johnson

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    Location (City & State):
    Red Oak, Texas
    1. Additional candidates might be recruited if they knew only x number of votes were cast and it only took x number of votes to win a position. This might even lead to greater voter turnout.

    2. I originally joined the AAW for the "magazine" only. I did not renew after the first year because I didn't feel it was worth the price and I had no interest in any other aspect of the AAW. I have since rejoined after I joined the Segmented Turner online chapter and have found somethings need to be made public.

    3. I've been informed others have requested this information in the past but have been told it would not be released because someone might be embarrassed.

    In my opinion any election process that does not include totals is broken and should be fixed.
     
  13. wnnelson

    wnnelson

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    Thank you Mr. Zander, I hope there is a lively and spirited debate on the subject.
     
  14. Martin Rost

    Martin Rost

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    Location (City & State):
    Long Island NY
    Total turnout only

    I have no interest in the individual tallies, but I would like to know approximately what percentage of the membership voted. It could be reported as a window, 10 to 20% voted, or 30 to 40% voted. This would to be to see the level of participation and if more needs to be done to get members to vote.
     
  15. George Guadiane

    George Guadiane

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    This is not exactly responsive, on the one hand, but normally, I would try and influence the running of an organization that I felt part of by taking the time to look at the candidates and cast my ballot, so if turnout is lower than normal (which is already too low), my perspective might help explain why - I don't think that I'm alone:

    With absolute respect for any/all of the new candidates, I elected not to vote in this one. I don't know if I like the selection process, and I've been so disappointed in how the Lacer thing was handled and the subsequent handling of our questions about the whole matter that, after looking at the slate of candidates, I didn't feel like I had enough information about any of them to make an informed decision and I couldn't really justify voting to reelect... I felt kinda like selecting my own firing squad, I couldn't figure out who would hit me dead on, the first shot and I certainly didn't/don't trust the current BoD members to meet my expectations.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2010
  16. Mark Mandell

    Mark Mandell

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    If the idea is for relevant "useful information" the only number that should concern us is the total tally, that being a barometer of membership involvement. I'd almost be willing to bet money that participation by more than 30% of the members has rarely, if ever, been achieved in an AAW election.

    Proceeding from that premise, if the goal is to increase member participation, it will be vastly more useful to take "low" participation as a given and then discuss ways to improve member voting and get more people actually involved in AAW governance.

    Since AAW directors are all "at large" and campaigning for board positions is prohibited beyond published statements, who gets the most or least votes doesn't involve any kind of "mandate" or fuel for policy arguments. The individual vote tallies, while they are information, aren't, in my view, useful information. If we take the argument for disclosure to its conclusion, we should then have votes tracked by zip code and every member's vote disclosed and listed.

    I can think of no more chilling an effect on voting than such disclosures.
     
  17. AlanZ

    AlanZ Resident Techno Geek

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    That's where we differ. For me the chilling effect is caused by anything less than full disclosure.

    I expect (and receive) real, complete election results from local, regional and national elections. People who run for office are evidently not embarassed by their landslide victories, nor by their defeats... they're adults and are putting themselves in the spotlight voluntarily.

    I understand that some governments and organizations feel that they need to insulate the voter from the actual poll results (for whatever reasons).

    I just prefer to know that my vote has been counted, and want to know how it did compared to others who voted.

    Maybe this just isn't interesting to those who already know the information.

    Does the independant auditor just give the BOD a winners list, or does the BOD get the poll numbers? I'm guessing that the BOD is interested in and finds value in the voting data. (I've been known to guess wrong)

    Clearly at least some of the members share that interest, and I see no compelling reason to suppress the numbers.
     
  18. Mark Mandell

    Mark Mandell

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    So where, along the data stream, do you stop the disclosure, Alan? I can easily see members getting upset over people quizzing them about why they voted for this or that candidate. That is the chilling affect I was referring to. While you are welcome to wear buttons proclaiming who you vote for, you've no right to know my choices.

    While individual candidate vote tallies may be mostly irrelevant bits of trivia, drilling further into the data looks like an invasion of privacy and a vehicle for possible misuse. What limits would you place on disclosure and what would you use to justify a cut-off along the line?
     
  19. AlanZ

    AlanZ Resident Techno Geek

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    I would just start with simple vote counts per candidate, and total number of overall voters who participated.

    Unlike local elections, we're not broken up into voting districts, so I don't see the need nor the expressed desire for geographic distribution data.

    What I'm getting at is just because the raw data has the potential to be parsed in so many ways doesn't mean that it shouldn't be parsed at all.

    I'm just looking for something more than the names of the winners. The data is there and some of the membership is expressing interest in getting a better handle on election results.
     
  20. Marvin Hasenak

    Marvin Hasenak

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    Location (City & State):
    New Mexico
    If city, county, state and national elections just announced the winners we would be screaming for numbers. In those elections we want to know who won, why they won, who lost and why they lost, I see no difference in any election including the AAW.
     
  21. davidwalser

    davidwalser

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    A compromise?

    Marvin,

    As I said above, I don't disagree with disclosing how many votes each candidate received. My ONLY question is whether or not this change in reporting should be made prospectively or retroactively. That is, since the AAW has a 24 year history of NOT providing vote totals for each candidate, it's reasonable to assume that one or more of the candidates may have expected that their vote totals would NOT be published.

    May I suggest he following compromise? Have the AAW contact each of the five candidates and ask for their permission to publish the vote totals for this past election. If they agree, then the AAW should publish the vote totals. If even one of them objects, the AAW should NOT publish the vote totals. (My sense of fairness would be violated if we changed the rules after the fact without the permission of the participants. YMMV.) Without regard to whether or not the vote totals from the just concluded election are published, the AAW should publicly adopt a policy of publishing the vote totals for all future elections. Then, any future candidate would know going in that his or her vote total would be published after the election.

    If the policy of publishing vote totals makes it too difficult to attract qualified candidates (something I very much doubt would be the case), a change in policy could be considered.
     
  22. AlanZ

    AlanZ Resident Techno Geek

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    David,

    I would not suggest having the numbers published retroactively, as this would have been a change to the election process after the election was held.

    My suggestion is that they be made available as part of a process for future elections.
     
  23. davidwalser

    davidwalser

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    Then, we are in agreement.

    Wait! That was weird. What just happened? I feel a soft breeze on my face, the sunshine is pleasantly warm on my skin, and I can hear birds chirping in the background....
     
  24. Mark Mandell

    Mark Mandell

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    Uh Oh, Walser's into the shrooms again! :D
     
  25. Mel Turcanik

    Mel Turcanik

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    Candidate withdrawl changes everything

    I have to agree that changing the rules after the fact is inappropriate. However, this election saw the withdrawal of a candidate, without notice to the entire membership. (I believe it's been stated by the BOD that the only way to notice the entire membership is through the Journal.) This, without doubt, resulted in votes that went to an ineligible candidate that would have otherwise went to another candidate that may have benefited from the vote shift and changed the outcome.

    Without a disclosure of the vote counts, the election result may be presented as the will of the membership when in fact it may be only the result of a flawed system.

    This flawed system is one more thing that should be addressed in the bylaws but for this election we may be stuck with it, I'm afraid. I doubt that the current board would be even willing to release information as to whether the vote shift was meaningful, but such a possibility should be kept in mind for the future.
     
  26. Jake Debski

    Jake Debski

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    Mel, some sort of compromise is needed on this issue. Quite literally all candidates are volunteers. They are willing to be vetted by a committee of fellow AAW members. Write a couple hundred word explaining their reasons for running and qualifications for the job. They are not a bunch of thick-skinned pols, lying through their teeth to get on the gravy train.

    The least we can do is allow them to retain some dignity should they lose. Not announcing the actual vote totals does exactly that.

    The dropping out of the race prior to announcement the winners but after the vote has started is a truly unfortunate but rare occurrence. The only way change is forthcoming is to work toward it. Quitting before you even get the job produces nothing.

    There were six candidates for three positions this year. We were allowed a vote for three candidates. I think one vote per member would serve the organization better. That way the vote you cast for your favorite person can't be canceled out by your own vote for your second or third choice. The votes will continue to be counted by the independent CPA firm and should there be a withdrawal the next in line gets the nod. The percentages of votes can be announced but not the persons that received which percent. Not a perfect solution but, compromise seldom is.
     
  27. AlanZ

    AlanZ Resident Techno Geek

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    Jake,

    I don't understand how your vote for second choice cancels out a first choice.

    These are not first second and third choices for a single seat.

    If there are three seats available, you choose three people to fill the seats. These are all the 'first' and 'only' choices you have.

    The three members with the highest total votes get the seats.

    If by some reasoning you choose not to cast votes for anyone but your single favorite candidate, that's up to you, but all that means is that you have no influence over who is placed in the other two seats.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2010
  28. Mark Mandell

    Mark Mandell

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    The AAW system arises out of the "at large" nature of AAW directors. In such a system, each Director is elected by the entire membership so the only practical way to select three out of the full slate is to have all members vote for each and then tally the 3 highest. Members are, however, free to withhold their vote for one of more candidates. A ballot is not invalid because it only votes for one or two candidates.
     
  29. Timothy Rowe

    Timothy Rowe

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    pbc

    Hey, I'm from Palm Beach County, Florida and I get it.:D:D:D
     

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