DRAFT of Elections procedure proposal 7-11-01
( and a few comments )
Proposed Election Procedures for WBAI Station Board
Wed Jul 11 11:19:53 2001
DRAFT - DRAFT - DRAFT - DRAFT - DRAFT - DRAFT
ELECTION PROCEDURES FOR THE WBAI STATION BOARD
In recent years, an unaccountable majority appointed to the Pacifica Foundation's Board of Directors has repeatedly violated the founding principles of the Pacifica Network, as articulated by Lewis Hill and the other Pacifica founders in the Articles of Incorporation. This majority is steering individual stations, including WBAI in New York, and the network as a whole, in a direction unacceptable to those who support Pacifica and believe in the necessity of the network to the health of our society.
As a number of lawsuits against the hostile Board majority proceed toward conclusion, it will not be sufficient simply to replace the individuals at the top of Pacifica's power structure with others who pledge to do a better job. We who love, value, and depend upon Pacifica as much as it depends upon us must do everything in our power to ensure that such a transgression never occurs again.
At this time in Pacifica's history, it is necessary to build democratic accountability and transparency into the governing structure of foundation from the bottom up, from the local to national, from the hitherto voiceless listeners up to the powerful members of the foundations' Board of Directors, and to entrust the ultimate responsibility for protecting Pacifica's vital founding principles to the network's many thousands of loyal listeners.
These Election Procedures describe a method for conducting regular, democratic elections for all Listener and Staff seats on the previously self-selecting, self-appointed WBAI Local Advisory Board and reconstituting it as a more powerful Station Board, representative of the WBAI community's needs. Granting listeners the power to vote in the reconstruction and protection of WBAI and Pacifica is a crucial first step toward true empowerment and democracy in the network.
ARTICLE I: WBAI STATION BOARD FUNCTION and COMPOSITION
Section 1: The elected WBAI Station Board (hereafter "Board") shall replace and assume the duties of the current, appointed Local Advisory Board (hereafter "LAB") upon the conclusion of the first election in 2001. The Board shall be empowered, as the previous LAB, to elect representatives to the Pacifica Foundation Board of Directors, and shall have any other duties or powers consistent with future revisions of the LAB/Board or Pacifica Foundation by-laws.
Section 2: The Board shall be comprised of twenty-one (21) elected seats, seventeen (17) of which shall be Listener seats, and four (4) of which shall be Staff seats. Of the Staff seats, two (2) shall represent the unpaid station staff and two (2) shall represent paid station staff. There shall be no appointed, "grandfathered," or additional seats of any kind.
Section 3: The length of a term on the Board shall be three years, except in the case of the first election in 2001 in which some elected candidates shall receive, by the method described in Section 4 herein, terms of one or two years for the purposes of implementing annual staggered elections. Board members shall be limited to serving for a total of two consecutive or non-consecutive terms. If re-elected, Board members who receive shorter terms in the first election in 2001 shall be permitted to serve one additional three-year term.
Section 4A: After the first election in 2001, elections shall be staggered to occur every year, with either six (6) or five (5) Listener seats and either two (2) or one (1) of the Staff seats being filled in each election.
Section 4B: For the first election of 2001 only, the entire Board shall be elected. The seventeen (17) elected Listener candidates to the Board, once seated, shall devise a method of determining which five (5) candidates shall receive full three-year terms, which six (6) shall receive two-year terms, and which six (6) shall receive one-year terms. While vote tabulation results may be taken into account and there may be seated candidates who volunteer to receive shorter terms, the final decision should balance these considerations with the goal of the Board representing the diversity of the WBAI audience with respect to race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, and class. Similarly, the staff members seated on the Board, shall employ the same criteria in determining which elected candidate shall receive a three-year term, which shall receive a two-year term, and which two (2) shall receive one-year terms.
Section 5: Elected Board members shall be seated within one month of the official announcement of election results.
ARTICLE II: ELECTION COMMITTEE and ELECTION COORDINATOR FUNCTION
Section 1: These election procedures shall be implemented by the WBAI Station Board Election Committee (hereafter "Election Committee") and the WBAI Station Board Election Coordinator (hereafter "Election Coordinator"), provided these procedures are ratified by a majority vote of the current LAB, as specified in Article XI herein, approving the Election Committee and the Election Coordinator to undertake this function.
Section 2A: All voting members of the Concerned Friends of WBAI Elections Committee, as defined by the standing rules of voting membership of that committee adopted May 11, 2001, shall be eligible to immediately become voting members of the Election Committee, if they so choose, as well as any other members of the community who attain voting member status in accordance with the standing rules of voting membership for the Election Committee found in Appendix I herein, except that, in a given election cycle, new voting members shall not be added to the Election Committee between the start of the Nomination Period and the close of the Election Period. All other standing rules and structures of the former Concerned Friends of WBAI Elections Committee shall be in force for the Election Committee in addition to standing rules specified herein. Meetings of the Election Committee shall be regular and publicly announced, and minutes of these meetings shall be publicly available. Any member of the community shall be welcomed at meetings and encouraged to participate in discussion in any manner consistent with standing rules of the body, except in making and voting upon motions.
Section 2B: Voting members of the Election Committee shall neither stand for election to the Board nor publicly endorse, either as individuals or as an entity, any candidate seeking election to the Board from the start of the Nomination Period to the close of the Election Period in a given election cycle.
Section 3: The Election Committee shall appoint an Election Coordinator to aid it in implementing these election procedures and to function as an arbiter of disputes. The Election Coordinator shall serve as a voting member of the Election Committee for the duration of his or her appointment, which shall be from the start of the Nomination Period until the announcement of the results in a given election cycle. The Election Coordinator shall not be a current or former member of the WBAI or Pacifica staff or a current or former member or affiliate of the WBAI Local Advisory Board.
Section 4: The Election Coordinator and Election Committee shall strive to the best of their ability to ensure, through outreach efforts, a slate of candidates representing the diversity of the WBAI listening audience with respect to race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, and class.
Section 5: Neither the Election Coordinator nor members of the Election Committee shall be compensated in any manner for their services.
ARTICLE III. ELECTION METHOD
Section 1: Votes for Listener seats shall be cast only by qualified voters for Listener seats, as defined in Article IV, Sections 1 and 2.
Section 2: Votes for Unpaid Staff seats shall be cast only by qualified voters for Unpaid Staff seats, as defined in Article IV, Sections 1 and 3.
Section 3: Votes for Paid Staff seats shall be cast only by qualified voters for Paid Staff seats, as defined in Article IV, Sections 1 and 4.
Section 4: Voters for all seats on the Board shall rank the candidates on the ballot in order of preference using the method of proportional representation voting commonly known as Choice Voting, also known as Single Transferable Vote or the Hare-Clarke System. Choice Voting methodology is explained in detail in Appendix II herein.
ARTICLE IV: VOTER QUALIFICATIONS
Section 1: Qualified voters for both Listener and Staff seats must reside, work, or attend school in the WBAI signal area.
Section 2: Qualified voters for Listener seats on the Board must also meet the requirements of one of the following six categories:
A: Subscribing Listener Voter: Any natural person (as opposed to a group or organization) who has contributed the minimum subscription amount of twenty-five dollars ($25) to WBAI during the three years prior to the closing date of the Nomination Period.
B: Volunteer Listener Voter: Any natural person who has performed three (3) or more hours of volunteer work at the station during the five (5) years prior to the closing date of the Nomination Period.
C: Young Adult Listener Voter: Any natural person under twenty-one (21) years of age on the closing date of the Nomination Period.
D: Low-Income Listener Voter: Any natural person who is a listener of WBAI and is unable to donate time or money to the station.
E: Boycotting/Protesting Listener Voter: For the first election in 2001 only, any natural person who, in protest of WBAI/Pacifica Foundation policies and politics, has decided to boycott the station fund drives and/or to contribute time or money to any group or organization involved in the struggle to reclaim Pacifica locally or nationally (i.e. the "Free Pacifica" movement).
F: Former Subscribing Listener Voter: For the first election in 2001 only, any natural person who has contributed the minimum subscription amount of twenty-five dollars ($25) to WBAI between three (3) and ten (10) years prior to the closing date of the Nomination Period.
Section 3: Qualified voters for Unpaid Staff seats on the Board must meet the requirements of Section 1 herein as well as the requirements of one of the following two (2) categories:
A: Unpaid Staff Voter: Any natural person holding an unpaid staff position at the station as of the closing of the Nomination Period of a given election cycle.
B: Terminated Unpaid Staff Voter: For the first election in 2001 only, any member of the staff terminated from an unpaid position between December 22, 2000 and the closing of the Nomination Period.
Section 4: Qualified voters for Paid Staff seats on the Board must meet the requirements of Section 1 herein as well as the requirements of one of the following two (2) categories:
A: Paid Staff Voter: Any natural person holding a paid staff position at the station as of the closing of the Nomination Period of a given election cycle.
B: Terminated Paid Staff Voter: For the first election in 2001 only, any member of the staff terminated from a paid position between December 22, 2000 and the closing of the Nomination Period.
ARTICLE V: CANDIDATE QUALIFICATIONS
Section 1A: Any candidate for a Listener seat on the Board must not be a current member of paid or unpaid station staff, must not have been an on-air producer within one year of the close of the Nomination Period, and must be a qualified Listener Voter, as defined in Article IV, Sections 1 and 2.
Section 1B: Any candidate for an Unpaid Staff seat on the Board must be a qualified Unpaid Staff Voter, as defined in Article IV, Sections 1 and 3.
Section 1C: Any candidate for an Paid Staff seat on the Board must be a Paid Staff Voter, as defined in Article IV, Sections 1 and 4.
Section 2A: To be nominated, a candidate for a Listener seat on the Board must present a nomination petition endorsed by at least 20 other qualified Listener Voters to the Election Committee by the close of the Nomination Period.
Section 2B: To be nominated, a candidate for an Unpaid Staff seat on the Board must announce his or her candidacy to the Election Committee by the close of the Nomination Period.
Section 2C: To be nominated, a candidate for a Paid Staff seat on the Board must announce his or her candidacy to the Election Committee by the close of the Nomination Period.
Section 3A: Any current member of the LAB who has occupied his or her seat for a period or periods totaling less than six years but more than three years in duration prior to the closing date of the Nomination Period shall be encouraged to stand for election to the Board either in the first election of 2001 or in a subsequent election, provided he or she meets the other qualifications of a candidate specified herein, and shall be limited to serving one (1) term, if elected.
Section 3B: For the first election of 2001 only, any current member of the LAB who has occupied his or her seat for a period or periods totaling less than three years in duration prior to the closing date of the Nomination Period shall be encouraged to stand for election to the Board either in the first election of 2001 or a subsequent election, provided he or she meets the other qualifications of a candidate specified herein, and shall be permitted to serve up to two (2) consecutive or non-consecutive terms, if elected and re-elected.
Section 3C: Current or former members of the LAB who have been seated for a period or periods totaling six or more years in duration prior to the closing date of the Nomination Period shall not be permitted to stand for election to the Board.
Section 4: The Station General Manager, who shall continue to be an ex-officio (non-voting) member of the Board, shall not be permitted to run for an elected seat on the Board.
ARTICLE VI: NOMINATION PERIOD
The Nomination Period shall last thirty (30) days, during which time the Election Committee shall arrange regional signature-gathering events throughout the WBAI signal area.
ARTICLE VII: CAMPAIGNING PERIOD
Section 1: The Campaigning Period shall commence exactly one week after the close of the Nomination Period, in order to allow candidate validation time, and shall last forty-five (45) days, until the commencement of the Election Period.
Section 2: While any natural person, as opposed to a group or organization, may publicly endorse one or more candidates seeking a seat on the Board, the following are prohibited, as entities, from issuing statements in any form about individual candidates or their positions: the staff of WBAI; the staff of any other Pacifica station; the staff of the Pacifica Foundation; the current WBAI LAB/Board, the LAB/Board of any other Pacifica station; and any group or organization involved in the struggle to reclaim Pacifica locally or nationally (i.e. the "Free Pacifica" movement). Station staff shall not endorse or discuss the candidacy of any listener of staff candidate on the air outside of the on-air forums outlined in Section 3A herein.
Section 3: WBAI management shall allot at least four segments as on-air question-and-answer forums during the Campaigning Period. These forums shall be at least two hours each on different days and shall occur at different times of day between eight o'clock A.M. (8:00 AM) and eleven o'clock P.M. (11:00 PM). All candidates for Listener seats on the Board shall be invited, and participation in at least one of these forums shall be mandatory. An individual assigned by a candidate may stand in to represent a candidate's positions. Each forum shall be moderated by a different individual, if possible. Moderators shall not be current or former members of the WBAI staff and shall be ap
Appendices to Election Procedures
APPENDIX I: STANDING RULES OF VOTING MEMBERSHIP ON ELECTION COMMITTEE
In order to become a voting member of the Election Committee one must:
(1) Attend two consecutive Election Committee meetings
Voting membership on the Election Committee shall be revoked for:
(1) Missing three consecutive meetings, including subcommittee meetings with no excuse deemed
worthy by the co-Chairs, and then failing to appear at the next committee meeting after a
conversation with the Coordinator of New Members
Voting membership may be regained by the same procedure as it was initially acquired.
APPENDIX II: CHOICE VOTING METHODOLOGY
Definition: "Choice Voting" (also known as "Single Transferable Vote" and the "Hare-Clarke System") shall be defined as a voting system which achieves proportional representation by allowing voters to rank candidates for the WBAI Station Board in the order of their choice, according to the method described below.
Ballot Specifications: Ballots shall be simple and easy to understand. Sample ballots illustrating voting procedures shall be mailed to registered voters along with the actual ballots, as well as posted in designated polling/ballot drop-off locations. Directions provided to voters shall conform substantially to the following specifications:
Directions to Voters; where X=number of available seats on the Board to be filled in a given election: "Vote for up to X candidates for Listener seats on the WBAI Station Board Indicate your first choice by coloring in the oval in column 1 next that candidate's name, your second choice by coloring in the oval in column 2, and so on up to column X. Do not assign any two candidates the same choice. If you wish, you need not specify choices for all X candidates. Note that ranking all X candidates does not affect your higher-choice candidate's chances to win, but does increase the chances that your ballot will contribute to the election of your lower-choice candidates."
Seating Threshold: For a given election, the minimum number of votes necessary, either before or after transferring of vote surpluses, for a candidate to be seated on the Board shall be termed the "threshold." The threshold is used to determine transferable surpluses as defined below. The threshold is determined as follows:
Number of valid ballots cast in the election divided by (number of seats to be filled +1).
Transferable Surpluses: The following rules regarding vote transfer shall apply to all stages of the tabulation:
(1) Votes acquired by a candidate in excess of the threshold for that election shall be termed his or her "surplus." A candidate's surplus votes shall be transferred according to the following rule: transfer a portion of each vote determined by dividing the surplus of the candidate by the total number of votes cast for that candidate. For example, if a candidate receives 15,000 votes in an election whose threshold is 10,000, that candidate has a surplus of 5,000 votes and one-third (5,000/15,000=.3333) of a vote from each of those 15,000 ballots is transferred to those voters' next choices. Votes case for candidates who are eliminated (as described below) shall be transferred at their full current value to those voters' next choice(s).
(2) Votes may not be transferred to candidates who have already met the threshold, nor may votes be transferred to candidates who have been eliminated. When a voter's next choice is not eligible for receipt of transferred votes, that vote (or portion of a vote) shall be transferred to the voter's next indicated choice until all choices on that ballot have been exhausted.
(3) If a voter omits or mistakenly designates any choice on his or her ballot, the vote shall be transferred to that voter's next clearly indicated choice.
(4) Any votes cast for qualified write-in candidates shall be tabulated in the same manner as those for candidates whose names are printed on the ballots, provided that the voter assigns any such candidate a choice in relation to other candidates appearing on the ballot for that office.
Stages in the Tabulation:
(1) Vote counting shall start with the tabulation of first-choice votes and with the transfer of a
proportion of all surplus votes according to the rules specified above. Transfer of surpluses shall
commence with the candidate having the largest surplus and proceed successively to the candidates
with the next largest surplus.
Determinations in the Case of a Tie: For ties between candidates occurring at any stage in the tabulation, determinations shall be made based on whomever was credited with the most votes at the previous stage of tabulation.
If you all think the commentary about elections has been fierce before this date, it's about to get mildly hotter still. The lowpoint of my attendance at the combined CFWBAI outreach and action committee meeting last night came after the conclusion of the meeting when an unnamed individual proceeded to tell me that the move to "democratize will happen without the elections committee." Just prior the person stated to me that they would not attend an elections committee meeting because they feared they would not be allowed to speak. This was followed by another person imploring me "not to repeat" the line which was just spoken to me twenty minutes previously. Please note that all these statements were made after a meeting, not during, and those involved will likely probably disavow any knowledge of their own statements.
It is just this very type of disinformation that makes it imperative for elections to go forward, and for
the present committee to continue this hard work.
As of tonight's meeting, current voting members of the CF of WBAI Elections Committee are:
1. Ruth Benson
Pending membership (vote at next meeting after tonight):
Current leave of absence:
Leave of absence:
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