A Message from Elections

OTW Board Elections 21 November 2008

The Elections Committee has been developing a set of guidelines for how we’ll handle our annual OTW Board Elections: our goal is to create a process that is transparent and fair to all candidates. The Election FAQ and the 2008 Election Timeline explain how the first set of Board elections will be handled.

The FAQ and Timeline answer important questions like:

  • Who is eligible to become a candidate? Why is committee service necessary?
  • Will candidates’ real name and fannish identity be connected? (For a more extensive discussion on this issue, see our following post ETA See note below.)
  • When is the deadline to become a paying OTW member, in order to vote in this year’s Election?
  • How will votes be counted? Why is the OTW using cumulative voting?

We’re hoping this will all work well, but we will be watching to see how it goes and how we can improve these policies. If you have comments or suggestions for how we could make them better for next time, please share them with us. Representatives from the Elections committee are on hand to answer questions left as comments here; private questions may be sent to the elections chair.

  1. Avi Rappoport commented:

    I am a bit concerned about Board members not terming out, ever.

    In the organizations I’ve been involved with, the Board members always burn out (eventually), and often don’t notice that they’re doing it. Everyone’s used to them being there, but that’s not to the benefit of the group as a whole, and it blocks new members with new ideas and energy.

    The other reason I’m concerned is that there’s no scope for disagreement: if the majority of Board members are on one side of a dispute, they may not be properly representing the opinions of the membership. Unless there are term limits, the Board can block the issues, with no recourse ever. This is likely to cause people to leave the organization.

    A term limit of 8 or 10 years is a good compromise: Board members can have the security of long-term planning, while insurgent members will not feel that the organization is always going to be exactly the same.

    Please consider this, perhaps after this election. I didn’t realize I felt so strongly about it, but organizational dysfunction is very common, and I’d like to see OTW avoid repeating old mistakes.


    Avi Rappoport, member.

    • Cordelia V commented:


      Thanks for that feedback. I’ll take that back to the Elections Committee, and we’ll include that on the list of things we’ll consider after the first election. As we said in our OTW news announcement, we’re gathering comments and feedback (and experience) in this first election cycle, and will consider what we might want to change for future elections. I’ll discuss this with the Board, as well.

      Cordelia V
      Chair, Elections

      • Avi Rappoport commented:

        Thank you for taking it in the spirit intended.


      • Gray Cardinal commented:

        It may be worth noting that there’s more than one approach to limiting Board member terms — one can either impose a lifetime limit (“no person may serve on the Board for more than [X]”) where X is some number of years or terms of office, or one can impose a consecutive service limit (“no person may serve on the Board for more than X consecutive terms/years”). I’d think that in OTW’s case, a consecutive-service limit would be most appropriate; that would act to limit the potential for burnout while ensuring that the organization doesn’t eventually run into a situation where all its most knowledgeable candidates have been permanently grandfathered off the Board.

        There are various ways to structure a consecutive-service limit, too. The simplest is given above: “No person may serve on the Board for X consecutive terms of office.” Alternately, the limit can be framed as “no more than X years in any Y-year period” (say, 7 in 10). Or a rule may require both a limit on consecutive terms and a specified period on the bench (“a member may serve a maximum of two (2) consecutive three-year terms on the Board, and does not become eligible for re-election to the Board for two (2) years following the expiration of the second consecutive term”). As Avi says, the idea here is very much not to penalize active and interested members, but to guard against burnout and also to ensure that the Board retains a balance of continuity and fresh blood.

        An aside: it took me way too much spelunking in non-Election parts of the OTW site to discern that the term of office for an OTW Board member is, in fact, three years. This should be in the Elections FAQ; there should also be a statement specifying the number of overall Board members and the number of seats up for election. (I am assuming that the first Board set itself up with staggered terms — one-third of its members each serving for one year, two years, and three years respectively; this, however, also ought to be clarified.)

        • Gray Cardinal commented:

          And a minor mea culpa on the aside: I now see on re-reading the FAQ that the term of office/staggered term information actually is in there, though not as well-highlighted as I’d like. (I think this is worth its own top-level question rather than being part of a longer answer.)

        • Cordelia V commented:

          Thanks for taking the time to look everything through and give us that feedback, which I think has very sensible observations (and yes, I think we probably should add that info about Board terms and the number up for election each time). We’ll be revising the FAQ after the Board turns over this winter, in order to improve it for the second election cycle, and we’ll bear your feedback in mind when we do that.


          Cordelia V