Publish your numbers when electing nonprofit officers

voting badgets

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When it comes time for electing nonprofit officers, far too often we see announcements like this:

“The election for president was held and Director Black was elected to the office.”

This is a mistake! When you hold an election for office, BE SURE to include the numbers of votes cast for each individual in your announcement and minutes.

This is necessary to affirm the integrity of the election and the tellers (people who count the votes).  If you publish a sloppy statement like the above, how do people know that the votes were properly counted and that the election is valid?

Publishing this information also informs the members and candidates about the views of the voters. Someone who came in a close second may be heartened to run again, whereas someone who garnered only a few votes may decide that it’s time to put his energies elsewhere.

I understand the impulse to spare people’s feelings. Even so, please, please, please, don’t indulge in soft-hearted compassion for the loser and deprive her, and all the members, of this relevant and essential information.

Robert’s Rules of Order confirms that you must publish your numbers

Robert’s Rules of Order, a book grounded in democracy and fairness, makes this matter clear in its discussion of the tellers’ report. “The tellers’ report is entered in full in the minutes, becoming a part of the official records of the organization. Under no circumstances should this be omitted in an election or in a vote on a critical motion out of a mistaken deference to the feelings of unsuccessful candidates or members of the losing side.” P. 418, ll. 26-31. Let’s avoid Tammany hall and the appearance of back-room deals! Be sure to publish your numbers when electing nonprofit officers.

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Ann Macfarlane

Ann G. Macfarlane is a Professional Registered Parliamentarian. She offers an interactive and user-friendly way to master the key points for effective, efficient and fair meetings. Her background as a diplomat and Russian translator enables her to connect with elected officials and nonprofit board directors and give them the tools they need for success. She is the author of Mastering Council Meetings: A guidebook for elected officials and local governments.