Election Procedures

Home Discussion Forums – the Agora Group Business Election Procedures


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    • #242
      Darren KriticosDarren Kriticos

      With respect to our group’s constitution, the drafting committee is currently trying to decide on procedures to elect Executive Committee officers. We have developed two possible models:

      • The Chair is directly elected by a group membership vote. In a separate election, the membership chooses three people from a list of candidates to serve as members of the Executive Committee. None of these three candidates is directly elected to a particular office (i.e., as Vice-Chair, Secretary-Treasurer, or Communications Officer). Rather, the three candidates confer with each other and the Chair to determine who will fill each office.
      • No officer is directly elected. Instead, in a single election, the group membership selects four (or possibly five) people from a list of candidates to serve as members of the Executive Committee. These candidates then elect the Chair amongst themselves. They subsequently work together to determine who will fill the other Executive Committee offices.

      Obviously, the major difference between the models is how the Chair is elected. On this particular point, the first model mirrors the US-style direct election of a President, while the second model mirrors the selection of a Prime Minister in parliamentary democracies. Both models have advantages and disadvantages. What do you think?  Please post your thoughts here!

    • #248
      Frank KochFrank Koch

      My preference would be for direct election of the Chair. I admit that this preference is informed by my experience with US presidential elections, etc., but I also believe that a lot of members, regardless of where they’re from, would like to have a say in who will be the primary face of the group for a couple of years.

      Under this model, it’s conceivable that someone could be elected Chair who doesn’t have the support or endorsement of the other elected officers. This could make for an awkward working situation. However, under the alternative model where the Executive Committee elects the Chair from amongst themselves, it is possible that the Chair won’t have the support of all of the officers (assuming he or she is elected by a majority vote of the Committee)…also a potentially awkward working situation. Furthermore, the current constitution draft outlines only four electable officers (Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary-Treasurer, and Communications Officer) plus a Local Meeting Organizer (one-year term) appointed by the Chair, but we really need five electable officers to make the “parliamentary” model work well (since an even number could lead to a deadlock vote for the Chair). So, do we split the duties of Secretary-Treasurer? Or is there another way to create a fifth electable office?

      I would definitely like to hear other members’ opinions regarding which model is most likely to be successful.

      • This reply was modified 9 years, 3 months ago by Frank KochFrank Koch.
    • #250
      Darren KriticosDarren Kriticos

      My preference is for the parliamentary model.

      I do not believe that the primary face of the group should be vested heavily or solely in a single person. This is an international group, and to be representative, it needs to be explicitly collegiate. My mental model of operation of the elected committee is one in which most communiques are delivered from the committee on behalf of the group. If we note how the group has operated in the past, and think about how it might operate in the future, I suspect that most communications will be electronic, via the web page and via social media. This is of course in addition to any publication we do. Applications for funding etc., might go out under the hand of the Chairperson, but this would be on behalf of the committee and would probably be drafted collectively.

      As I see it, the primary role of the Chairperson is to coordinate and manage the committee, and to break deadlocks. This is in contrast to the American Presidential style of executive office, where the President wields immense power and really does have executive authority. The parliamentary model, on the other hand, places responsibility and authority in the committee as a whole. The model of leadership in this model is by influence, rather than position. Because the authority is vested in the committee as a whole, the fate of the group is less influenced by the personality and behaviour of any single person.

      As Frank observed, another strength of this model is that the elected team sort out their roles among themselves, so that the Chairperson has the support of the majority of the elected committee members. Of course the elected Chair may not have the support of all of the elected members, but this situation could arise equally (or even more probably) in the situation where the Chair is elected directly.

      I agree with Frank, that we would have to have a fifth person on the committee in order to make the system work. I think that is reasonable and even desirable given our geographical and cultural diversity. It also makes the committee better able to handle one person being out of commission. This seems reasonable, irrespective of the mode of electing the Chairperson.

      The role of Secretary could be split from Treasurer. Communications is now more important in small groups than Secretary, and generally has a more marketing brief.

      Please don’t feel shy. Let’s hear your thoughts.

    • #251
      Frank KochFrank Koch

      Pretty convincing argument, Darren. I believe I’m coming around to your way of thinking.

    • #281

      The parliamentary model sounds good to me – just wondering, could the vice-chair be the incoming chair for the next year? It might be mixing and matching things a little, but it tends to work well in many of the volunteer organisations I’ve been a part of over the years – gives the vice-chair the opportunity to be primed for the job when it’s officially their turn and no worries about any drop off in leadership if elections are delayed etc etc. I think it would still be compatible with the current model – elect five people this year, then only four the next, and if the vice drops out for any reason then you just elect five again.

    • #284
      Frank KochFrank Koch

      Kylie — We started with that idea (vice-chair becomes the incoming chair) in the constitution. Ultimately, we (the drafting committee) moved away from it because it means that the chair must be a different person the next term, and if someone is really effective as the chair and wants to keep doing the job, do we want to eliminate the possibility of him/her continuing? Of course, he or she would still have to emerge as chair from the executive committee deliberations (and that’s assuming he or she was elected as a member of the executive committee…).

    • #288
      Amy MoreyAmy Morey

      Are there formalized/consensus descriptions of what is expected of each position (in particular, the Chair)? It seems arguments for one election process over another could be dependent on what the specific duties of the Chair are, as Darren describes.

    • #311
      Frank KochFrank Koch


      Here are the primary responsibilities of the Chair as currently written in the draft constitution:

      • Appoint a Local Arrangements Chair to host the Group’s annual meeting;
      • Serve on the Scientific Committee for the annual meeting;
      • Produce an annual accomplishment report summarizing the Group’s activities for that year, which is to be distributed to the membership;
      • Oversee production of accomplishment reports for activities sponsored by external organizations;
      • Ensure adherence of the Group to this Constitution, and propose amendments to the Constitution as appropriate.

      The primary responsibility of the Vice-Chair is to lead the Scientific Committee for the Group’s annual meeting. The Vice-Chair may also act on behalf of the Chair in cases where the Chair is unable to fulfill his or her responsibilities.

      The Secretary-Treasurer serves as the chief fiscal agent and membership coordinator of the Group. The Secretary-Treasurer documents the financial holdings and activities of the Group, and maintains the Group’s membership directory. The Secretary-Treasurer is responsible for summarizing recent financial and membership activities at Group annual meetings and as otherwise requested by the Chair.

      The primary responsibilities of the Communications Officer are to maintain the Group web site (URLs – https://pestrisk.org and http://www.pestrisk.net) and to send meeting announcements and other information of interest to Group members. The Communications Officer is responsible for the currency and accuracy of the web site content (which must include this Constitution document), and has the authority to modify the web site when deemed appropriate by the Executive Committee.

      If we go with five officers, the fifth will either be a student representative (exact duties not defined yet), or the Secretary-Treasurer position will be split in two. Looking elsewhere on the forum, it seems there’s support for a student rep.

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