Aline Carrão 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 believe the increase in the number of candidates is due to two factors: on the one hand, a lot of committees are in a much healthier place now than they were a couple of years back, and can actually think long-term and spare staff to do board work; on the other hand, the current state of the board — with its directors completely removed from the org’s day-to-day work and with their communication issues with volunteers, staff and chairs — led to a desire for change in several parts of the organization.

In my opinion, the best way to guarantee we will keep this trend going is to work in volunteer and staff retention and to keep committees healthy so that more and more people can be interested in taking part in OTW governance, while at the same time working to make board a rewarding place to serve so people will feel motivated to run for it.

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?

The Election committee, in consultation with Volunteers & Recruiting and Legal, should have the final say in election matters, not board. And, in my opinion, any board member running for reelection should be required to step down from their board role in advance before the campaign starts.

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 think these are valid concerns. Even if these changes were made in good faith and taking into account the best for the OTW, they were short-sighted, because they can be exploited to interfere with the elections process and board composition. We need to address this, and set clearer rules as to when one board member can be voted out and who can be appointed in their place and under what circumstances.