SEJ election policies

Adopted as policy by the SEJ board on April 5, 1997. As amended on July 3, 1999; September 15, 1999; January 25, 2003; and March 20, 2004.

These policies do not supersede any election rules contained in the SEJ bylaws. See bylaws for additional guidance.

General Provisions
Election Preparation
Election Process/Mail Ballots
Election Process/Regular Election
Miscellaneous Provisions

General Provisions

1. Form of Election. The election of SEJ board members and representatives to the board for academic and associate members, and votes on bylaws amendments (proposed by the SEJ board) are accomplished by a combination of live balloting at the SEJ Annual Membership Meeting and mail (absentee) ballots returned prior to the annual meeting.

2. Quorum. Ballots returned by mail shall count towards establishment of a quorum at the annual meeting, but only with regard to those election matters included on the mail ballots. If any issues are brought to the floor for a vote at the annual meeting, a quorum (10 percent of members eligible to vote) must be established at said meeting for a vote to be valid.

3. Election Committee. The election shall be supervised by a three-member SEJ Elections Committee (the "committee") appointed annually by the SEJ Board of Directors (the "board") at the first board meeting of the calendar year. One member shall be an employee of the society and shall be primarily responsible for assuring that all notices and ballots are properly prepared, mailed in a timely fashion, and kept secure upon receipt at the SEJ office. The other two committee members shall be members of the society who are not currently serving on or running for the board. All committee members must be able to attend the annual membership meeting.

4. Duties of Secretary. The board secretary shall be an ex-officio member of the Elections committee and is responsible for assuring that the actions of the committee are consistent with the requirements of the bylaws. The secretary serves as liaison between the committee and the board. In the event the secretary is standing for re-election to the board, the secretary's designee for that election cycle shall serve as the board's ex-officio representative on the Elections committee. This shall not preclude the secretary from performing duties required by the bylaws, such as issuing notice of the time and location of the annual meeting or alerting the board to any actions of the Elections committee that may be inconsistent with the bylaws.

Election Preparation

1. Call for Candidates. The Elections committee shall issue a call for candidates no less than 90 days prior to the date set for the annual membership meeting at which the election will be completed. The committee shall provide electronic notice to those SEJ members who are eligible to hold office as board members and as academic and associate member representatives, and who elect to be notified solely by e-mail. This notice shall be given by First Class mail to all members eligible to hold office, and also may, at the designation of the elections committee, be mailed to members who have also been notified electronically. The e-mail transmission will be delayed so it arrives at approximately the same time as the mailing, although the delayed transmission shall not exceed three working days. Said notice shall list the number and terms of the positions expiring, the requirements of holding office, filing procedures and campaigning policies (see Election Process/Regular Election, Section 3, regarding spending.) In years when the academic and associate member representatives are elected, a separate letter or electronic notice, as set forth earlier, may be used to issue a call for those candidates, but in any case the entire membership shall be informed of any and all vacancies in the active, academic and associate categories as part of the call for candidates. The filing deadline shall allow at least 45 days for candidates to respond, but permit sufficient time for the committee to prepare and deliver mail ballots.

2. Electronic Notice. Members will have a choice between electronic notification of the Call for Candidates and notice by regular, First Class mail. Members who do not indicate a preference will be notified by First Class mail. The Elections committee will follow up the e-mail or regular mail notice with two subsequent notices on the SEJ-Announce listserv before the deadline for filing a notice of the candidate's intention to run for elective office.

3. Candidate Filings. Qualified members shall file as a candidate by submitting to the committee, care of the SEJ office, a brief, signed letter declaring their interest in representing a specific membership category (regular, academic, associate) on the board. Candidates must also submit a signed statement, limited to a single side of an 8.5 by 11 inch sheet of paper, outlining their qualifications and objectives for holding office. The one-page statement may take any printed form but must be easily reproducible for distribution with the mail ballots. Failure to comply with said policies will result in disqualification. Candidates' original filings must be submitted by First Class mail or other delivery service because of the need for an original signature. E-mail, facsimile, or other electronic filing will disqualify the submission.

4. Voter List. The committee shall prepare a list of eligible voters who as of 60 days prior to the annual membership meeting are members in good standing. Ballots shall be mailed only to persons on the eligible voter list.

Election Process/Mail Ballots

1. Ballots. The committee shall prepare a ballot for each category of director listing candidates in alphabetical order with a box next to each name for casting a vote. In the event the board has proposed a bylaws amendment, the appropriate language shall be included on the ballots sent to active members, with boxes for both "yes" and "no" responses. Instructions shall be listed at the top of the ballot. To protect against the counterfeiting of ballots, the Elections committee may employ appropriate means such as the selection of certain papers having unusual colors or watermarks.

2. Ballot Mailing. The ballot mailing, to be sent no more than 50 days nor less than 30 days prior to the annual membership meeting, shall include at a minimum:

A. The appropriate ballot for that category of member receiving the ballot.

B. Instructions for finding the one-page candidate statement submitted by each candidate on the SEJ World Wide Web site; or, if the member has requested, a photocopy reproduction of the one-page candidate statement submitted by each candidate.

C. An explanation of the basis or rationale for any bylaws amendment proposed by the board. The president of the society, or his or her designee, shall draft such explanation. In the event the board of directors is split on a bylaws issue, the mailing may include more than one explanation/argument reflecting the differing perspectives.

D. Instructions and materials necessary to return a valid secret ballot (see Section 3 below) within the specified deadline. The instructions shall also advise members not to cast a mail ballot if they intend to attend the annual membership meeting.

E. A letter from the secretary satisfying the bylaws requirement for announcing the date, time and location of the annual membership meeting. Said letter may, as deemed appropriate by the committee, contain additional information about the annual meeting or contents of the ballot mailing. The bylaws require that said notice be delivered not less than 10 nor more than 50 days prior to the annual membership meeting.

F. All ballot mailing will be via First Class mail and the return of ballots will be via First Class mail. The balloting procedures will not be conducted by electronic means.

3. Secrecy. The committee shall take care to assure that all members can cast a secret ballot. With regard to mail ballots, the ballot mailing should include a "ballot" envelope and pre-addressed "return" envelope. Members will be instructed to place their completed ballot in the envelope stamped "ballot" and seal it. That ballot envelope is to be placed in the pre-addressed return envelope. The return envelope shall contain an area on the back on which the member is instructed to both legibly print and sign their name. The purpose is to both determine eligibility and to preserve the secrecy of the ballot.

4. Additional Materials. In keeping with the SEJ board's intent to keep all members fully informed regarding the business of the society, the ballot mailings should contain a separate packet of information regarding election matters, in addition to that which a member would automatically receive based on their membership category. Said packet may be printed on a different color paper to distinguish it from official election materials and should include a cover note from the president, or his or her designee, explaining what is attached and that it is included for informational purposes only. Examples of information that would be included in the informational packets:

A. Active members would receive copies of the one-page statements of candidates for the academic and associate representatives to the board (in those years when such elections are conducted.)

B. Associate members would receive copies of the statements of candidates for active and academic representatives to the board, and complete information regarding any proposed bylaws amendment. (Note: Even in years in which academic and associate members do not cast any ballots, they would receive the secretary's letter notifying all members of the annual membership meeting. Thus, these informational packets could be included with that mailing.)

C. Academic members would receive copies of the statements of candidates for active and associate representatives to the board, and complete information regarding any proposed bylaws amendment.

D. Honorary members would, in addition to the annual meeting notice, receive copies of all candidate statements and complete information regarding any proposed bylaws amendment.

5. Review. Prior to mailing of the ballot packets, the board secretary shall review the ballot and other materials contained therein to assure the mailing complies with the bylaws and election policies.

6. Processing Mail Ballots. The Elections committee shall designate a member of the committee to collect the returned mail ballots at the designated mailbox. That person shall check the eligibility of the voter, confirming it against the master voter list and marking that member as having voted. Once eligibility is determined, the outer envelope will be opened and the "ballot" envelope inside will be placed, unopened, in a secure ballot box. If the name appearing on the outside of the envelope is deemed to be illegible by a majority vote of the Elections committee, the ballot shall not be counted.

7. Security. Both the election list and the ballot box shall remain in a secure place under supervision of the designated committee member, who will be charged with bringing both to the annual meeting.

Election Process/Regular Election

1. Live Ballots. The committee shall prepare ballots for use during the live election held at the annual membership meeting. Said ballots shall be identical to those used for the mail ballot, except for the instructions regarding the return of the mail ballot.

2. Official Postings. The committee shall see that the one-page candidate statements and information regarding any proposed bylaws amendment are conspicuously posted near the location of the annual meeting no less than one hour prior to the start of the meeting. Said material may also, at the committee's discretion, be posted at other locations when the annual meeting is conducted in conjunction with the SEJ annual conference.

3. Campaigning. The committee may but is not required to designate other locations at the site of the annual meeting or annual conference at which candidates may post other election materials. In the spirit of SEJ and its non-profit status, candidates are encouraged to keep campaign spending at a minimum. Independent mass mailings of campaign materials by candidates or their surrogates are discouraged.

4. Presiding Officer and Assistants. The committee shall designate a committee member to preside over the live election at the appropriate time during the annual membership meeting. The committee may also select a limited number of assistants to help with tasks other than the direct handling or counting of ballots.

5. Candidate Oral Statements. Each candidate present for the election shall have the opportunity to make a brief statement, limited to 2 minutes, regarding his or her qualifications and reasons for seeking election. In the event that a candidate for office is unable to attend the annual meeting, the candidate may request another active member in good standing to read a two-minute statement prepared by the candidate on behalf of the absent candidate. However, the candidate who is unable to attend the meeting and makes such a request must notify the chair of the Elections committee 48 hours in advance of the annual meeting providing a bona fide reason for the absence such as sickness, family problems, work assignments or other reasons preventing such attendance. This statement will become part of the record of the annual meeting. Once the polls are open, there will be no campaigning in the room designated for balloting.

6. Floor Nominations. All candidates for election to the board positions must file as candidates as provided in the Election Policies process enabling the Elections committee to review both their status and eligibility for election in active, associate, or academic categories as well as their current status as members in good standing through payment of dues. There will be no exceptions to this rule. The Elections committee will not entertain floor nominations.

7. Distribution of Ballots. Once the presiding election official announces the opening of the polls, the other two committee members, seated at an appropriate place, shall direct the distribution of the ballots and record who has received a ballot. Members shown to have voted by mail will not be entitled to receive a ballot.

8. Opening of Polls. The polls shall remain open for 30 minutes or until all those waiting to vote are served. Each voter shall place their ballot in the official ballot box containing the unopened mail ballots. The presiding election official shall give 5 minutes advance notice of the closing of the polls, after which the committee shall retire to count the ballots.

9. Tabulation Process. Prior to tabulating the vote, the committee shall count the total number of ballots against the number of names checked off the master voter list to make sure the two coincide. Any discrepancy must be resolved before the returns are certified. The committee shall employ vote-counting procedures that assure true and accurate results, and shall permit up to two independent observers to watch the vote tabulation. Any election in which the margin between a winner and loser is fewer than 10 votes should be automatically recounted before results are announced.

10. Tie Votes. In the event of a tie vote for the election of directors or election of academic and associate representatives, the tie will be broken by a secret ballot of the sitting directors. The losing candidate shall for a period of one year be given first priority should the SEJ board need to fill a vacancy on the board on an interim basis. (See bylaws for related election provisions regarding vacancies and un-expired terms.) In the event of a tie vote regarding a proposed bylaws amendment, the amendment would fail.

11. Un-expired Terms. When one or more of the open director positions is an un-expired term, the shorter-term position(s) will be filled by the winning candidate(s) with the lowest vote total(s). The winning candidates with the higher vote totals will fill the regular, three-year terms.

12. Announcement of Results. The results of the election, signed by the committee, will be submitted to the board secretary (or the secretary's designee, if the secretary is a candidate) and the names of the winning candidates announced during the annual membership meeting, if feasible. If not feasible, the winners should be announced during a subsequent general attendance event at the annual conference. The winners will also be published in the society newsletter. The secretary, or the secretary's designee, if the secretary is a candidate, will post election results on the SEJ web site as soon as is possible. Vote totals are not announced at the annual meeting, but for all candidates shall be posted during the annual conference and recorded in the minutes of the annual membership meeting.

Miscellaneous Provisions

1. Protests. In the event of a formal protest or challenge to the election, the committee shall review the matter and submit its recommendation to the board for action. If the outcome of an election is changed materially, the board may call a special election.

2. Adoption. The election rules shall be adopted by the board and may by revised as necessary by a majority vote. The membership of the society shall receive due and adequate notice before the board adopts any significant and material changes to the election rules.

3. Powers. The Elections committee is empowered to make such decisions as required to assure the smooth conduct of the election, but it must advise the board of any material changes in the way the election is conducted. The secretary or designee of the board shall act as liaison between the board and the committee.

4. Terms. Members of the Election committee are appointed at the first board meeting of each calendar year and serve for one regular election cycle, with their terms automatically expiring one month after the completion of the regular election. The terms of committee members may be temporarily extended by vote of the board should the committee need to review a protest or challenge. Members of the committee may be reappointed in subsequent years.

5. Removal. The members of the Elections committee serve at the pleasure of the board but during the course of an election can only be removed by a three-fourths majority vote of the board members in attendance at an official board meeting.

6. Elections Committee Guidelines. Members should be aware that in addition to this document that has been adopted by the SEJ board, there is in addition a document called "Election Guidelines." This document is prepared by the Elections Committee to supplement, but not supplant, the Policies and serves as a document to assist the committee in the conduct of the election. It is an advisory document only.

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