When should elections be held
and other related issues

Central Author: Alan Hodge

Co-Author: Mark Kaprielian

January 2001


Just prior to creating this position paper was the recent decision of the Board to change the term of office to better align with the calendar year and to establish clear policies and procedures for the conducting of elections.  This effort was done as part of the larger effort of updating the club charter.  Since the announcement of these plans, several questions and points for consideration have been presented to the board.  This document attempts to restate the general concerns raised and provide a well-reasoned response to each.



Question 1:

It will be more difficult to do recruiting for the officer positions during the holiday season. People are likely to be busy with shopping, family, etc., it will be tough to get their attention to consider running for the Board.  What are the attendance figures for the December event that follow long event that starts in November?



When is it ever easy to recruit people for the Board?  I'm not persuaded in theory that it will be any more difficult in November/December than in January/February, although if experience proves it to be so (how can it get harder?), we can always change back.  Attendance runs about half of the yearly average.  The December event is usually a novelty event and the nights skirt around the Christmas and New Years holidays.  Voting is slated for the November time frame and recruiting for the board will necessarily have to take place well before then.


When was the last time there was any real voting going on?  Since 1995 (and perhaps earlier) there has not been a year when we had more nominees than positions.  Voter response is generally dismal for any election and the huge majority of the votes casts are likely to be by those who happen to show up at the club to play on election night.  The Board had reasons for changing the term that had nothing to do with increasing (or maintaining) the level of membership participation in the election.  It doesn't seem to make much sense discount those reasons in favor of possibly increasing membership participation in the elections.


Question 2:

Terms of office should overlap critical periods of time, not be coincident with them.  It has been said that it makes a convenient break when we consider filing taxes and such.  Why would we want a potentially new officer to have to come in and learn last year's activities just when he's responsible for acting on them?  The officers who have been overseeing the programs of the club should hang around long enough to finish their work, and new officers should take over during as lull, not a flurry, of activity.




A different point of view to "Why would you want a potentially new officer to have to come in and learn last year's activities just when he's responsible for acting on them?" would be because that is the best and quickest way to learn them and the best way to ensure that a transition is done effectively.  I (Hodge) am a case in point: I have been "Treasurer" for a year but have learned (done) none of the Treasurer's particular functions, except for depositing money and collecting a few miscellaneous documents in an organized manner, because I have not been required or enabled to perform them.  There are various reasons for this, mostly a lack of continuity extending back many years.  Moreover, I would not expect that someone would be elected President, Treasurer, or Program Director who did not have some prior Board experience from which he would have learned something about how to do those jobs.  It's possible, of course, and if someone wants to run for those offices without Board experience, he is within his rights to do so; but if he does, and is elected, I don't see that his predecessor in the office has any extraordinary duty to train him in the job that he voluntarily sought under those conditions.


Regarding "The officers who have been overseeing the programs of the club should hang around long enough to finish their work ...."  This is true regardless of when the transition of officers takes place.  I personally (Hodge) would be in favor of formalizing a policy that says that at least the three Officers serve an additional month (or whatever) after their 12-month term (Past President, Past Treasurer, Past Program Director) to ensure that they are officially available to the new Officers for advice and assistance. 


"...  new officers should take over during as lull, not a flurry, of activity."  I disagree.  Even with a transition in January, I don't believe the situation will qualify as being "time critical" or urgent -- meaning that there will be ample time for an intelligent transition.  On the other hand, I foresee a difference in the quality of the transition according to whether it happens in a "flurry" or a "lull."  I take "flurry" to mean that things need to be done "now" (taxes, annual corporate filings, whatever).  To have the new and old Boards working together to do the "real thing" when it needs to happen not only ensures that the new Board is exposed to all the details required but also gets the experience of actually going through the process.  Now suppose that we transition in a March "lull."  The old Board will have done all the filings (presumably -- "finished its work") before the new Board comes in, so now the transition is "Here are the documents, and I'll tell you about what you will need to do nine or ten months from now ...  good luck." And nine or ten months later the new Board (having not looked all that much at the material because no action was required for several months) is trying to make sense of the material and remember what it was told nine months earlier.  I'll wager the "flurry" transition will be the more effective.


Finally, let's not suppose that there will be a annual turnover in officers, especially not for all officers.  In theory there could be, of course; but the reality is that officers in organizations like MCC serve as long as they like.  Transitions will be the exception, not the annual rule.