Frequently Asked Questions


Which positions in the OTW are elected?

Only members of the Board of Directors are elected. The Board of Directors is the group of individuals that heads the organization. Individuals do not run for specific offices; they run for a seat on the Board. Three officer roles connected to the Board (President, Treasurer, and Secretary) are chosen annually, and they may be filled by board members or other volunteers.

At least two directors are elected each year (in an election by paying OTW members), and they currently serve for three-year terms.

What does a member of the Board of Directors do?

As a group, their duties include carrying out strategic planning and decision-making in areas such as the OTW’s mission, annual budget, projects and priorities; maintaining a long-term focus for the organization; monitoring progress toward strategic goals; ensuring organizational legal compliance; taking responsibility for organizational actions; having legal responsibility for the organization and its finances with the IRS; and signing contracts, disbursing funds, and transacting business of various kinds.

Individually, board members are expected to attend chat-based meetings; keep up to speed with relevant organizational communications and reports; and act in good faith in the best interests of the OTW.

Who is eligible to become a candidate?

Please see Becoming a Candidate for information on eligibility.

Why do I have to serve on a committee before I can run?

Having served on a committee within the organization helps to ensure that a candidate has a certain level of familiarity with the internal workings of the OTW, as well as the ability to work well with others in an online volunteer capacity. It also shows that the candidate has demonstrated commitment to the OTW and its values.

Why do I need to use my legal name?

Because the directors are legally responsible for the OTW and its finances, their actions must be able to be tied to their legal identities. This is part of IRS regulations for incorporated nonprofit organizations, of which the OTW is one.

Will my legal name and fannish identity be connected?

Only if you choose for them to be, such as by mentioning your fannish identity in the candidate Bio you submit as part of the election process. OTW staff and documentation will only refer to you by your legal name.

Do specific seats have specific requirements?

It is recommended that the Board officers (President, Treasurer, and Secretary) have experience on the board before becoming officers. Otherwise, no.

The OTW is a fannish organization. Why aren’t the fannish identities of candidates publicly disclosed?

While many people are okay with their fannish identities being connected to their legal identities, that is not is not the case for everyone, for various reasons. OTW’s policy puts that decision in the hands of the candidates; it is up to them to decide how much they are comfortable sharing about their fannish identities. This applies both during and after the election process, for candidates who are elected as well as for those who are not.


How do I declare candidacy?

Make sure that you meet the eligibility requirements and are willing to run under your legal name. Email the Elections chair with your legal name and a statement that you are over 18. Please let the Elections Committee know if you are serving under a pseudonym and whether you want to change your OTW name to your legal one before your candidacy or after election. Elections will then check with the proper committees to verify your eligibility. The deadline for candidacy declaration is listed on the election timeline.

What is the difference between a contested election and an uncontested election?

A contested election occurs when there are more candidates than there are available seats on the Board, and the voters choose which ones will be elected.

An uncontested election occurs when the number of open seats on the Board is equal to or greater than the number of candidates. Each candidate is technically unopposed and will automatically be elected to the Board following the election process (excluding the vote, which will not be needed). All remaining empty seats will remain empty until the next election.

Will I be able to run again?

Yes, if you are not elected, then you will be able to run in the next election, assuming that you again meet all eligibility requirements at that time.

What does the campaign process look like?

First, you will write a Bio. This is a short paragraph detailing your relevant experience – offline, in the OTW, and in fandom.

Second, you will answer the Platform questions, which are the same for all candidates.

Third, you will participate in the Q&A process. The questions are submitted by the public.

Fourth, you will attend public chats. These will be arranged by Elections around your schedule.

Can OTW logos be used during campaigns?

During campaigns, avoid using OTW official logos (or images that may be mistaken for OTW official logos), including logos for individual projects like AO3. You can reblog or retweet official OTW announcements that contain such logos, but please don’t associate the logos with campaigning for a specific candidate or candidates. This is to avoid the impression that the OTW is endorsing a specific candidate or candidates.


How do I become eligible to vote in the election?

You can become a member of the OTW by donating 10 USD or more. Membership lasts one year from the date you donate. This makes you eligible to vote in one OTW election. If you’re already a member, and you donate $10 or more again, the expiration date of your membership moves forward; it is always one year from your most recent $10-or-more donation. To see the voter eligibility period for this year’s election, view the election timeline.

I donated more than $10, why haven’t I received any information about the election?

There could be a number of causes:

  1. Was your donation made prior to the current election year? If you’re not sure, you can contact our Development & Membership Committee to double-check. Only donations made during the current election year qualify a member to vote in that year’s election.
  2. Have you unsubscribed from OTW emails? If so, you can email [email protected] to get back on the list.
  3. Are OTW emails being sorted into your spam folder? If you don’t want that to happen, try adding to your list of safe contacts.

If none of the above apply, contact us and we can try to sort out the issue.

Why can’t I become a member by donating my time to the OTW?

As a legally recognized nonprofit organization, we are obligated to make sure each vote comes from a distinct, legally recognized individual. The easiest way to do this is by tying membership status to donations made via a bank account or credit card — that is, a payment method that establishes identity. It’s because of this principle that donations made via cash or money order do not confer membership.

How does the voting process work?

Eligible voters—all paid members in good standing—will be sent instructions to the e-mail addresses they used to join the organization. All ballots are anonymous.

Votes will be counted using a version of instant runoff voting modified for multi-winner elections. For a full explanation, please see the voting process information page.

When will we know the results?

Full results will be posted after the polls close; barring unforeseen difficulties, we will announce results no later than three days after the end of balloting. In the case of a delay, Elections will post status updates on the cause and the timeline for resolution.

Can I know the ranking of the candidates?

In the interest of maintaining the equality of all Board members, we do not release the ranking of the candidates.

Voting by Proxy

What is voting by proxy? How does it work?

Voting by proxy is designating someone else to cast your vote in the election, which OTW is required to allow by Delaware law. Typically, it can be done if a member will be away from internet access or have other commitments during the entire election period.

If a member is unable to access the test ballot, for example they could be using outdated software or have other software compatibility issues that make the ballot inaccessible, they will likely have the same issue with the real ballot and should choose to designate a proxy. You must designate your own proxy. The Elections Committee and the OTW do not designate proxies for members.

Proxies are assigned by email. The emailed proxy request must

  1. originate from the email account you used to donate to the OTW;
  2. be addressed to both [email protected] and your proxy;
  3. include your legal name; and
  4. include a declaration that you wish to assign your proxy to the emailed recipient.

Your proxy must reply to that email, acknowledging receipt, and include their legal name in the reply. This reply must be received by [email protected] at least two weeks before the election. If you would like to change or cancel your proxy, you may do so up until the same deadline. The official deadline for proxy assignment will be included on the election timeline.

After the proxy assignment deadline, proxy assignments last six months. Until those six months are up, we cannot revoke or change your proxy assignment. If you have been assigned someone else’s proxy vote, you cannot in turn pass it on to someone else.

Further Information

Where can I learn more about the election?

The Elections site is your best bet for all election information. We have both current news and history sections, as well as more detailed categories listed on the side.

My question still wasn’t answered.

You can get in touch with us through our contact form. We’re happy to help!