The Flaws of International Board Elections

February 14th, 2007 by shanesghost

My current understanding of how the International Board is elected is as follows:  Candidates caucus at International Convention, and are given limited time to have a “Meet the Candidates” and give speeches and answer questions.  Regions are then allowed to vote.  Votes are allocated to regions based on their size, and ballots given to the regions.  The region then votes, choosing 5 delegates.  The 5 delegates are chosen with Regional Board going first, then Chapter Godols, then Regional Chairmen, then other attendees.  Yes ladies and gentlemen, 5 people from your region are allowed to vote on the candidates for I-Board, and those 5 candidates alone.  I will not even go into the philosophical argument of a Trustee voter vs. a Delegate voter, for you do not even need to think that hard to begin realizing the flaws of this system.

Time and time again during the Policy-Gate scandal, the Alephs and BBG’s have been reminded that “We elected two members to represent us to the adult staff, and therefore do have a say in the decision making process”.  Now let’s pause for a moment to analyze the numbers on this one.  First let us assume that there are 11,981 members in BBYO.  I do not know the exact membership, but this is the total taken from b-linked.org.  Second let us assume that there are roughly 40 distinct regions around the world.  The total of votes here would be 40 times 5, or 200.  200 people make decisions on behalf of almost 12,000 other people.  1.66% of the members actually get to cast a vote.  On top of this, in order to cast your vote, you must pay a form of “Poll Tax” by paying the sum of around $500 dollars to attend international convention.  Ladies and Gentlemen, this is democracy at its worst.

So how do we fix it? Well, how about we stop thinking about BBYO as if it were 1927.  You are probably well aware, since you are all reading this blog using this very tool, that a interconnected network of computers, known as the Internet has allowed human beings across the world to instantaneously communicate.  Recently BBYO has taken advantage of this resource, albeit a little late, and created B-Linked and Dashboard.  These two tools are great and have great potential.  So why not utilize both these tools to improve our democratic power as members of this organization?

I present to you, the Ghostian Model of BBYO Election Procedure:  It’s really quite simple, and could easily be integrated with B-Linked.  By integrating the caucus, campaigning and voting procedures into a website, everyone who gives BBYO any of their spare time at all could have an opinion.  The election procedure would begin like normal, with submitting an application to the international office, and interviews with members of international staff and board.  Next, the candidates would all be announced on the same day, and given a sub-portal on the B-linked website.  In this portal, which would be similar to a B-Linked group, candidates could submit a 1 page 8.5 x 11 platforms, double sided, along with audio files of their speech.  In addition to this, there would be a moderated message board where the candidates could answer questions and speak to the membership.  This would greatly reduce the problem of voters not even knowing the candidates.  Sure, the problem of politicking would only increase, but the advantages would be worth it.  With dedicated moderators, insulting and offensive comments could be removed from the public eye, and an appropriate atmosphere would be maintained.

Now I know that these proposed changes will only partially solve the problem, but personally I believe that an improvement of our democratic process is necessary when electing two individuals to be the sole representatives to the adult international staff.

-Shane’s Ghost

5 Responses to “The Flaws of International Board Elections”

  1. Brandon Says:

    Personally, as a current member of BBYO, I feel that this would be a lot more effective in giving every member an equal voice. Many people cannot afford to attend IC, or may not be a Regional/Council Board member with the ability to cast vote at IC, and this currently limits their say in the International Order. Please do BBYO a favor, and take this idea to International, or get a group of advisors/members who agree with you and convince International to sit down and listen.

    Fraternally submitted with an undying love for Allentown AZA 156, Central Region East BBYO, and the entire International BBYO Organization,
    I remain Aleph Brandon Weber.

  2. Baer's Ghost Says:

    I will by no means deny that block voting happens during International elections and that it is a problem. But there are also certain pitfalls to an online voting system – mainly, how do you avoid regional ballot flooding?

    Say that you come from Ohio Northern Region or Lonestar Region. You have everyone in your region flood the “ballot box” with votes for you. Now pretend you’re from Big Apple Region, where they have much fewer people. The only way you gain national notoriety is by going to International programs. Thus it’s harder to get a big “block” vote behind you.

    How would you suggest getting around this issue?

  3. bebersghost Says:

    I can’t speak for Shane, but I would argue that obviously there is no perfect system. The same problem exists in our own country where “favorite sons” always carry their state. Oh wait… wouldn’t Gore have been president in 2000 if he’d carried his home state? Hmmm…

    Seriously though, if the organization built a culture of responsible voting (which includes trusting members to vote wisely instead of blindly for people from their own region), it would minimize the issue. Americans have voted for presidents from smaller states in the past – the issue is real, but not decisive.

    I must also question your statement about “national notoriety”. Going to International programs gains you no such thing – it only gains you notoriety among the relatively small number who go to those programs. A full out online campaign that included platforms, video speeches, online chats, etc. would provide a much greater level of exposure than what exists now. It would enable individual members throughout the order to interact directly with every candidate. Moreover, it would open international office to those who can’t afford to attend those rather expensive international programs.

    The Ghost

  4. Baer's Ghost Says:

    I won’t argue that it is a large financial imposition to attend these programs, but I truly believe that making friends at International programs greatly increases your likelihood of winning.

    I was talking to one of my friends from CLTC that ran for International Board a few years ago and at the following IC, more than half of our CLTC was there. Essentially, out of the 250 votes possible, they already had 25 of them locked down, just from one program. Those 25 individuals held a strong voice in their delegation because they attended the program, and often held a spot on their Regional Board. So, that 25 votes may easily translate into 75 votes – people buzzing about this person they actually know that is running. On top of that, say that you do prove yourself as a stronger candidate, say you secure another 50 votes just by virtue of being a strong candidate.

    With one International Program you get a great deal of votes. Now think about if you attend another – say ILTC which may have more than 125 participants, the following year. Assuming that you are a strong leader, you may start “selling yourself” during these programs, which often happens.

    I do agree that an online voting system may be of benefit – but what about politicking? That’s part of the reason why we don’t have open elections, isn’t it? So how do you suggest getting around it?

  5. bebersghost Says:

    A great comment, and worthy of an in depth answer here.

    The Ghost

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