Improving committee elections

Most community groups have to headhunt and arm-twist to get a committee together. But at last February’s AGM, MUG surprised itself by having contested committee elections – 14 candidates for 12 seats. There was not time in the meeting for hustings, so votes were presumably cast on the strength of what voters happened to know about candidates.

Obviously it would be better to have a way for candidates to make statements and for members to assess them. At the same time, we don’t want to set up a process which discourages people from coming forward for the committee: too complicated or rigid a process, and in a less active year the group might find itself with a weak committee or none at all. And it’s hard to see how the AGM could fit in speeches from more than a dozen candidates.

So, simply, we suggest that candidates can make a written statement in advance, if they like.

The committee has drafted some rules to cover the details of how this could work, and we hope the group can discuss and adopt them, with any amendments, at the 7 December meeting, for use at the 2012 AGM next February.

Please do make comments here — the more we can sort out online, the less meeting time we’ll have to give it.

Before the Meeting

1.       Invitation to stand sent out at least 4 weeks before meeting (email, park noticeboards)
2.       Candidates invited to send in statement by 1 week before meeting, which will be posted on website.
3.       There is no word limit for statements for posting online but candidates must submit a version not longer than 200 words for printed circulation at the meeting. Longer texts will be truncated when printed.
4.       Candidates should be nominated by one other park user; nomination can be at meeting (i.e. candidate may send in statement without having a nominator)
5.       People can stand and be nominated at the meeting but cannot make a statement at the meeting

At the Meeting

6.       Committee will prepare a reasonable number of voting papers, with space for those standing at the meeting to be added
7.       Committee will prepare a reasonable number of copies of a document containing the 200-word candidates’ statements.
8.       Candidates can identify themselves but not make an oral statement.
9.       If there are more than 12 candidates, an election is held by secret paper ballot
10.   If candidates stand at the meeting the chair will read out their names for voters to write on the ballot paper
11.   If there are too few voting papers prepared, blank lined paper will be distributed and the chair will read out all candidates’ names (as many times as necessary)
12.   Everyone at the meeting has 12 votes (or the number of committee seats up for election if other than 12)
13.   The meeting will elect 2 tellers to count votes. They may be users, council officers or local councillors attending as observers. They will not be candidates, unless no other person can be found.
14.   Tellers will announce the names of people elected but not the number of votes received
15.   Tellers promise not to reveal any other information about votes cast
16.   After the election, ballot papers will be placed in a sealed envelope and kept for 6 months by one of the tellers or by another person acceptable to the meeting


If committee place(s) become vacant between AGMs:
17.   An election will be held, using the same procedure, at the first possible group meeting (i.e. if the vacancy occurs less than 4 weeks from a meeting, the election occurs at the meeting after that).
18.   If there is only one seat up for election, and more than 2 candidates, single transferabvle vote will be used.

Footnote: Single Transferable Vote
STV: Voter numbers candidates in order of preference. Teller redistributes 2nd (etc) votes from candidate(s) with least votes, until one candidate has a 51% majority.

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