Clarifications to SOA Election Policies in 2011

by Cindy Miller, SOA Nominating Committee Chair

Cindy MillerApril is more likely to bring thoughts of spring and baseball than thoughts of elections—unless you’re on the SOA Nominating Committee!

The Nominating Committee has already started the election process for the 2011-12 SOA Board of Directors.

The ballot won’t be announced until June 20. However, in the meantime, the Board at its March meeting approved some clarifications to election policies that were requested by the Nominating Committee and that we want to share with you.

1. Policy on Reserved Seats for SOA Elections

What is the philosophy behind having reserved seats on the Board? Reserved seats help ensure that the Board composition reasonably reflects the diverse membership of the SOA in terms of geography, demographics, practice area, employment sectors, industries, etc.

Occasionally there is a need to reserve a seat for someone who brings the perspective of a specific segment of the membership to the Board. This does not mean that the Board member is elected to—or expected to—represent only that specific constituency. While a diverse composition of the Board can help ensure that the various segments and perspectives of our diverse membership are all represented, every Board member’s obligation is still to represent the best interests of the SOA as a whole.

The updated policy states that – if one or more Elected Board Member seats have been reserved for candidates satisfying specific criteria – then all candidates who meet the criteria for a reserved seat will be identified as such on the election ballot. This will help members to be better informed when they vote. And in the rare instance when there may be more than one reserved seat in an election, the policy clarifies that a single candidate may satisfy more than one reserved seat criteria.

Although these policy clarifications are now in place, the Nominating Committee has determined there is no need for reserved seats this year.

2. Being “Nominated” vs. Being a “Candidate for Election”

Who is a “nominee,” and who is a “candidate”? In revising the policies, the Nominating Committee has clarified that being nominated is not the same as becoming a candidate for election.

The SOA has always had a process that screens the number of nominees down to a more manageable group that become candidates for election. I’m sure many of you remember the old two-ballot system. Under that system as well, not every person nominated became a candidate for election. All the ‘nominees’ might have been placed on a first ballot, but none were actually elected as a result of voting on the first ballot! The results of the first ballot voting were simply used by the Election Committee to determine where to draw the cutoff line and how many of the nominees, and which ones, would become the ‘candidates’ on the second ballot – where the election really took place. Being “nominated” has never been a guarantee that a Fellow would be on the ballot as an actual “candidate for election”.

In 2006, the bylaws were amended to do away with the two-ballot process in favor of using a Nominating Committee to review the nominees. The Committee’s responsibility is to select those nominees who are best qualified to be on the ballot as candidates for election. Thus, under our current system, and as clarified in the revised policies, a “nominee” refers to a Fellow who is self-nominated or nominated by another Fellow, and who confirms his or her interest in running by completing the SOA’s Expression of Interest form. A “candidate” is a nominee selected by the Nominating Committee to be on the ballot for the election.

We think the election policy and guidelines now uses these terms more clearly. They also do a better job of describing how the Nominating Committee is to play its role, as designated in the SOA bylaws, in reviewing the experience and qualifications of all the nominees and selecting those who are best qualified to be on the ballot as candidates for election.

More details on the election policy and nominating committee guidelines (i.e. reserved seat policy and clarifications to the nomination and election process)are posted on the SOA website.

Come August, don’t forget to vote! Voting will open on Monday, August 8 and close on Friday, September 2 at noon CDT.

For more information on elections, visit the SOA Elections page.

I welcome your questions or comments on the election process below.

Sharing is caring.
  • Subscribe to our feed
  • Tweet about this post
  • Share this post on Facebook
  • Share this post on Google
  • Share this post on LinkedIn


4 responses to "Clarifications to SOA Election Policies in 2011"

  • Tom Bakos says:

    Respectfully, I suggest that your comments above have an element of “spin” in them.

    An important distinction in the old first/second ballot process used in the past is that anyone could, by being nominated, have their name appear on a first ballot. That made that nominated member a “candidate” in the first ballot election.

    The entire election process involved a first and a second ballot where the first ballot narrowed down the initial list of candidates to a smaller list for the second ballot. The first ballot was like a primary, in effect. It is a bit disingenuous to suggest that no one was being elected in the first ballot election.

    A second important distinction is that in the old first/second ballot process the members (at the time only FSAs but now FSAs and 5-year ASAs) were the ones participating in the election. Today, the first ballot member election has, in effect, been replaced by a first ballot election only among te Nominating Committee. So, a first ballot election among only 10 NC members has replaced the first ballot election of the past among the entire SOA membership.

    Now, in 2006 you claim that the SOA Bylaws were amended to allow the Nominating Committee to replace the members in the first ballot election and to change what it means to “make a nomination”. Please point to the Bylaws change that specifically made that change. I note that the Bylaws Article 3, Section 1(b) tat grants FSAs the right to “make nominations” was not changed in any way in 2006.

    Why do you think it is appropriate to take the right to fully participate in the selection of the profession’s leaders from the membership of the SOA?

    I look forward to your response.

  • Tom Bakos says:

    One more point …

    You say: “The results of the first ballot voting were simply used by the Election Committee to determine where to draw the cutoff line and how many of the nominees, and which ones, would become the ‘candidates’ on the second ballot – where the election really took place.”

    While your comment has an element of truth to it, your explanation leaves out that it was the members, not the Committee on Elections, that chose the names for the second ballot. This was an important part of the election process and not something that should be trivialized by saying it was “simply used”!

  • Cindy Miller says:

    Thanks for your question, Tom. My predecessor as chair of the Nominating Committee, Pete Hepokoski, addressed this issue on the SOA Blog last year. We also have a list of questions and answers about the nomination and election process on SOA.org.

  • Tom Bakos says:


    Thanks for your response. However, Pete’s answers last year were really inadequate. They did not address the issues raised. And, you are avoiding the issue by such reliance.

    I do understand that the answers you and Pete provided are a reiteration of the position taken by the Nominating Committee. They failed, however, to address exactly how FSAs can participate in the selection of SOA leaders (as is obviously contemplated by the SOA Bylaws and as has been applied for, at least, 50 years previous) if a 9 – 10 person Nominating Committee stands between them and their nomination – which, effectively, is treated merely as a “suggestion”. Would you want to be treated that way?

    Clearly, it is the FSAs and eligible voting ASAs who elect through their votes SOA leaders. In doing so, they exercise their combined good judgment. Can you explain what it is about that good judgment expressed in the election that the Nominating Committee thinks is unworthy of being applied in making a nomination?

    It looks a little fishy and restricts voting rights as well when voting members are only allowed to vote for the candidates they are allowed to vote for by an unelected Nominating Committee panel.

Leave a Comment