Elections Membership Deadline and October Drive Timing

Some folks have asked why the October Drive and the election membership deadline are not connected this year, as they’ve been in the past. The change was made as part of a broader shift in how the election process is managed. In the interest of transparency, we’ve outlined the details of this shift below.

Back in June, the Elections Committee approached the Development & Membership Committee about decoupling the election from the October Drive. The committees agreed to do so. This is the first step toward an eventual goal of having the same membership deadline every year, so members won’t have to guess the date each time. It also allows each committee to make decisions that work best for their individual teams, instead of trying to force changes on each other to the detriment of their staff or of OTW members. In this case, the current election dates have the advantage of allowing the election to be open for 4 days instead of 2. The Elections Committee hopes this will increase participation and decrease the need for proxy voters.

The membership cutoff date for being able to vote in an election is currently one month prior to the election, in order to allow our all-volunteer staff time to prepare accurate voter rolls (including members who pay by check), set up proxy voters, email voter instructions in advance, pay for the software, etc. Since a donation of $10 or more to the OTW gives the donor one year of membership, anyone who donated in the previous 2 drives (May 2015 and October 2014) is eligible to vote in this November’s election. Anyone just joining the OTW now will be eligible to vote in 2016’s election.

The membership deadline was posted on the OTW and elections websites and tweeted on both accounts. Those donors whose memberships were set to expire prior to the election deadline were each sent an email giving them the option of renewing in time to vote this year. We’re happy that so many people renewed their memberships due to interest in this election!

You can find more information about the current election here on our website by selecting either the Election News or 2015 links above. “Election News” has fewer posts, since it’s solely focused on announcements, while “2015” has every post related to the current election. If you have questions about the election process, please use our contact form to get in touch with us. You can also follow our Twitter to keep up with the latest election news.

4 thoughts to “Elections Membership Deadline and October Drive Timing”

  1. Thanks for the details. What should have been anticipated, however, is that decoupling the voting eligibility/membership drive and the fundraising drive would result in under promotion for voting eligibility/membership, which formerly piggybacked on the fundraising drive promotion. There was a severe imbalance in publicity for the two drives this year.

    1. Hi Stewardess,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

      We believe that there isn’t a meaningful connection between the election and the fundraising drive. It’s true that the OTW gives its members an opportunity to shape its direction by voting in elections, but we don’t believe that’s the reason people choose to donate. Instead, we think people donate to support their favorite projects and the work of the OTW as a whole. From this perspective, it didn’t make sense to continue the practice of piggybacking, as you accurately described it, information about membership and voting onto our fundraising communications. Instead, we publicized the membership deadline to the best of our ability in the places and to the people we felt were most appropriate given the goals of the election, which include encouraging those who have already shown a prior interest in the OTW’s future to participate in voting. We may have made the same decision even if the fundraising drive was held at a time when people could vote in the upcoming election if they donated. We can’t say for sure that we would have, because the reasons laid out in the post compelled us to operate on a different schedule.

      We’re not quite sure what you mean by an imbalance in publicity in the two drives, but we wouldn’t be able to speak to that in any case. You should direct any questions or concerns related to drive publicity to the Development & Membership Committee.

      Warm Regards,
      Election Team

  2. Why are there only two seats? There is a seven-member Board, one seat is vacant, and Andrea and Eylul joined board three years ago and their terms are up. Why aren’t all three seats being filled?

    1. Hi! Thanks for your question. So sorry for the wait – we sent your question to our Legal Committee, as they are the ones with the most detailed knowledge of the By-laws. This is their response:

      “The by-laws do not define the size of the Board, but they do require that at least two Board members be elected annually. The three existing Board members who will remain after this election (Soledad Griffin, MJ MacRae, and Jessica Steiner) were all elected in 2014 and therefore will term out in 2017. To maintain a steady balance of members terming out and new members coming in in future years, the Board decided prior to this election that two new members would be elected in 2015 and, although no members will term out in 2016, they expect that two new members will be added to the Board in the 2016 election per the by-laws, so the Board will likely have 7 members after the 2016 election.”

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