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Report of the SIOP Election Committee

Tammy D. Allen

In January of 2012 the SIOP Executive Board approved the refinement of several aspects of SIOP’s election procedures. For a complete recap of these changes see “An Interview With Committee Chair Doug Reynolds” available online at: http://www.siop.org/article_view.aspx?article=957).

With regard to nominations, the main change was that in the event of a tie, individuals within the tied rank would be selected at random to appear on the ballot. The previous process was such that in the event of an equal number of nominations, the Election Committee had some discretion, which was used to ensure diversity among the nominees that appeared on the ballot (e.g., with regard to employment setting and demographic characteristics). In the last election the Administrative Office generated a random sequence of unique numbers that was used to select among nominees with an equal number of nominations.

With regard to the election, there were three key changes. The target number of slots on the ballot was specified (five for president and four for all other positions), the election was conducted using the Ware single transferable vote method, and the results of the specific number of votes received by each candidate were made available to the membership.

The Elections Committee committed to conducting a review of the new procedures after the initial election cycle. Below are observations about the recent election as well as changes to current procedures approved by the Executive Board at their January 2013 meeting that will go into effect in the next election cycle.

1. There was no adverse impact on the number of members who voted.

A total of 913 members voted for president in 2012. This is the highest number in 5 years, and one of the highest in the last 9 years. The vote total for president between 2004 and 2012 has ranged from 824 to 931.
Consistently, around 30% of eligible members vote.

2. Feedback was generally positive.

Positive comments were received from candidates and from members who expressed appreciation with regard to the transparency of the new procedures.

3. This year, the results were the same as they would have been if members only voted for their top choice.

The candidate who won each of the 4 officer positions was the leading vote getter after the 1st ballot. 

4. There is a need to codify procedures with regard to when candidates are informed of the other candidates who will appear on the ballot.

Different procedures have been used in the past as to when candidates know the identity of other candidates. The Election Committee recommended that this procedure be standardized and be written into the administrative procedures so that all nominees are aware of the process in advance. The Executive Board approved standardizing the process such that the full ballot becomes available to everyone at the same time via posting to the SIOP website. The following language was added to Section 3d of “SIOP Elections Committee Administrative Procedures (http://www.siop.org/reportsandminutes/electionProcedures.aspx).”

After the slate of nominees has been finalized, the entire slate will be made available on the SIOP website. Nominees are not informed in advance of the names of other nominees.

5. There is a need to address the small number of nominations received for some board positions.

Historically, as well as in the last election, there are cases in which securing four willing nominees for officer positions other than president is difficult. Outside of the president role, it is not unusual for a small number of nominations to be received. Individuals are often nominated without their knowledge, resulting in members with only one nomination being asked to appear on the ballot. The Election Committee recommended that a minimum of two nominations be required to appear on the ballot once the minimum number of candidates required by the bylaws has been achieved. This change permits the election committee to flex the size of the ballot based on the number of nominations received. Specifically, the following language has been added to Section 3b of “SIOP Elections Committee Administrative Procedures.”

In each case, the top nominees must receive at least two nominations to be considered to fill the targeted number of slots. If there are not a sufficient number of nominees to fill the targeted slots, the ballot may be finalized with the available number of nominees as long as this number exceeds the minimum number of candidates required per the bylaws. If the required number of ballot slots is not filled, then candidates receiving only single nominations may be considered (using a random process to choose among them) until the required minimum is met.

6. There is a need for continued review of the procedures.

The Election Committee will continue to do an annual review of the impact of the new procedures. Although the changes overall to the nomination and election procedures appear to be favorable, one potential downside of the new nomination procedure is that, by removing any discretion by the Election Committee when there are ties, we also remove the ability to proactively diversify the ballot in terms of science–practice background, demographic diversity, and so on. The extent that members from a variety of backgrounds are nominated and willing to appear on the ballot is something that we will continue to monitor.
We had an excellent slate of candidates for all roles in the last election cycle. Congratulations and thanks to everyone who participated.