This letter is written to dispel a myth that most American associations do not have
contest elections for officers and directors.
There have been past editorials and responses concerning single-slate elections versus contest elections. In the context of this letter, a slate means one person per position, or in the case of Directors, five people for five Directors. This year several of the candidates who ran for office were not selected by the nomination committees.
It is true that on page 419 of Roberts Rules of Order, 10th edition, there is a statement regarding a slate for officers. “Nominees. Although it is not common for the Nominating Committee to nominate more than one candidate for any office, the committee can do so unless the bylaws prohibit it.”
ASHI’s Bylaws state (underlining is mine) in Section 8: “The Nominating Committee shall select annually, for election by the voting Members of the Society, one or more nominees for each of the following offices: President Elect, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer.”
There is theory and there is practice.
In doing research, I found a book published by the Foundation of American Society of Association Executives, written by James Dunlop, and titled “Leading the Association.” Dunlop is a respected consultant in the association industry. This book was the culmination of his studies of various types of associations: professional societies, trade and philanthropic.
In this book, Dunlop stated, professional societies, because of their typically large individual memberships, are twice as likely to have contest elections (58 percent) than trade associations that only have (27 percent) contest elections. This book documents that three out of five professional societies have more than one nominee for a position.
Ask not what the association can do for you…
In his book, Dunlop also states, contest elections spur the nominees to specify what they would do for the membership. “By stating their ideas for the association, they help to create a context within which the association will function. The intentions may embody no more than a single new activity or boosting membership but, if translated into action, represent volunteer direction of the association’s agenda.”
If you do not succeed, try, try again
In 2003 our ballots had several candidates running for office who were not selected by the nominating committees. There were four ASHI Members who went through the petition process to have their names included on the ballot for the open Director positions. The Members also had a choice of two people for the next Secretary of ASHI.
The petition candidates for director included one individual who was slated as a candidate in 2002, did not get elected and was not slated as a candidate for 2003. This person refused to accept those defeats and ran as a petition candidate for Director in 2003.
In 2002, there were two petition candidates for Director. One was elected and one was not. The one petition candidate who was not elected submitted his matrix and was slated this year.
This recent history dispels a previous argument that if a person is on the ballot and is not elected, the person will be discouraged and not run for an elected office or serve ASHI.
ASHI is headquartered in the Land of Lincoln. There is a motivational poster that lists the failures and ultimate success of one of the greatest leaders of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. He had in excess of 20 failures before he was elected President.
There is consideration by the Council of Representatives to change the Council of Representatives Policy and Procedure Manual from a slate nomination to a contest ballot for the election of Directors. We should make this a policy for officers as well.