by Koni Sims
In November of 2020, the American Council of the Blind’s board of directors voted to establish a Voting Task Force (VTF) to provide recommendations on how to conduct elections at our virtual 2021 conference and convention. We needed to establish a mechanism for remote voting since we have five board of directors positions, five officer positions, and three board of publications (BOP) positions up for election in 2021. In order to resolve this dilemma, the VTF needed to confirm that ACB had the authority through its articles of incorporation to hold remote elections.
The ACB board voted during its February meeting to move forward with the VTF’s recommendations of an outside vendor who will provide remote voting for the 2021 national conference and convention. The decision was necessary under ACB’s governing rules filed in the District of Columbia, which previously required in-person voting of officers, but has allowed for a waiver for remote voting as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the pandemic, ACB was unable to hold officer elections in 2020. Visit https://acb.org/voting-task-force-recommendations-2-20-21 to read the recommendations.
This exception does provide ACB a challenge and an opportunity to hold elections during its 2021 conference and convention.
The VTF made several recommendations that were accepted by the board. The most critical of these is that the remote voting process being instituted in 2021 only applies to this convention and is only for the officer, board and BOP elections. VTF recommendations will not apply to resolutions or constitution and bylaws votes. In addition, we would follow as closely as possible our current processes and practices, including the affiliate roll call vote, nominations from the floor, candidate speeches and runoff elections between candidates if necessary.
Voting Specifications and Requirements
The VTF had several requirements that a proposed system must meet. First and foremost, the system must be accessible to all of our members, and provide a secure, independent, and verifiable means of voting for all members. In discussing voting scenarios used by the state affiliates in their fall conventions, we felt that a manual voting process staffed with volunteers would not meet these requirements.
The VTF next looked at three electronic systems and, after study and consultation, a vendor was selected. The Vote Now system will provide the platform for this year’s elections. Vote Now can be accessed through a PC, Mac, iOS and Android platforms. It has phone access for members who wish to use the phone to vote, and a phone-assisted service if members have problems voting. Lastly, ACB has a history with the Vote Now system. Guide Dog Users, Inc. (GDUI) has been using this system for five years. They have found it to be accessible, increased voter participation, and held secure, verified elections for its officers and board.
How Affiliates Can Help
ACB wants maximum participation in this year’s election. We need to ensure that members are registered with ACB by June 16th and if possible, provide us with an email address so we can provide access to the Vote Now system by email. Affiliate presidents are encouraged to chat about this remote voting process with your members. If any affiliates would like the VTF to provide more information at your meetings, please contact Koni Sims at firstname.lastname@example.org.