Alex Tischer 2015 Q&A: Election Process

After a few years of uncontested elections (including one which garnered 0 candidates initially), there are now more candidates than ever before for the smallest number of seats ever up for election. To what do you attribute this sudden surge of candidates, and what would you do during your time on the Board to promote consistent contested elections for Board seats?

I think the sudden surge of candidates is due to the Board making a number of very controversial decisions in recent terms while simultaneously not being open to feedback from any side. This is basically a matter of “if they won’t listen to anyone lower than Board, we’ll have to become Board so they’ll listen”, if you will.

This question is a bit of a Catch 22 in that it is much more likely that there will be enough candidates for a contested election if the Board has done a number of contentious things in the last term, but I wouldn’t want to make controversial decisions just for the sake of promoting contested elections. Basically, a good way to ensure contested elections is making everyone hate you enough to want to replace you. And while I don’t mind making unpopular but necessary choices, I draw the line at mismanaging so people are rattled enough to step up.

While the current election process is more independent than it was in previous years, it is still subject to some decisions made by the Board, which can be passed at any time without input from volunteers. It’s possible for the Board to even change the rules while an election is in progress to exclude some candidates or voters or to punish volunteers for visibly participating in the process. If elected, how would you ensure that each future election is unaffected by interests within the sitting Board?

I would want the Election committee to become much more independent than it is even now. There should be no Board interference in the election process whatsoever. The highest instance on Elections questions should be the Elections committee, not the Board. If the Board has a legitimate complaint about a candidate or volunteer, they should have to resolve it like everyone else, by addressing the Elections committee and awaiting their decision. Elections should be able to request legal counsel in particularly tricky cases, but it should never be the Board that notices the problem, consults on the legal implications and then puts a rule in effect that affects how the elections are run. For me this is the textbook definition of a conflict of interest, especially if there are members of the Board that are running for re-election.

What do you think about the fact that two changes to the bylaws (reduction in size of board from seven to nine [sic], and the ability of two-thirds of the board to vote off another member with or without cause) means the board could dilute the election process? Effectively, the standing board could vote off any candidate who wins and with whom they disagree until they reach a candidate of whom they approve. Are you concerned about this?

I am very concerned about this. While I am willing to believe that both bylaw changes have been made without malicious intent, the net effect is that the Board can now circumvent the Election process and seat people on the Board as they choose. In my opinion, this goes against everything the Elections were set up to achieve.