Why don’t people vote?

SOA President Don Segal encourages members to vote in the upcoming Society of Actuaries elections.

By Don Segal, 2010-2011 SOA President

Donald Segal.jpg - use this Why don’t people vote? This is something I have wondered quite often, especially as our election period approaches. Low voter turnout often plagues national and local elections as well as elections held by membership organizations like ours.

Participation in SOA elections typically hovers in the 30 percent range. (Last year, there was a 29 percent return of eligible voters for the Board of Directors ballot.)

The SOA is one of the few actuarial organizations with the important tradition of having contested elections for Board positions. This ensures that you have a choice when it comes to who leads the SOA!

We want all of our members to be informed on the candidates and the issues, and there are some easy options for you to learn more. First, you can get to know the candidates for our Board of Directors here. We will also be holding an Interactive Leader Session with the President-Elect candidates tomorrow, July 26. If you haven’t already registered, the session will be archived on the SOA website soon afterward.

This year, fellows will also be asked to vote to update our bylaws regarding a proposed Joint Disciplinary Process. Everyone I have spoken to agrees that the changes to the Joint Disciplinary Process will only better our profession. However, many members feel that they will never be part of a disciplinary proceeding. Even if you think you will never be a part of the disciplinary process, I assure you this revision of our bylaws will only benefit our profession!

In order for the bylaws amendment to pass, we will need 25 percent of our fellows to vote on the amendment, with 2/3 of those voting in favor of the change. You can learn much more about the bylaws amendment on the SOA website, including a side-by-side comparison of the current and proposed bylaws, as well as answers to some frequently asked questions. We also held a webcast on the proposed changes to the Joint Disciplinary Process. You can see the archived presentation here.

It would be a shame to see this improvement to our profession fail simply because we did not reach a quorum. As stewards of our trade, we all share the responsibility to ensure that the actuarial profession’s integrity is maintained. It is our responsibility to ensure our discipline processes are functioning well.

I hope to see an excellent turnout for this election—it’s your vote, your voice.

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One response to "Why don’t people vote?"

  • Tom Bakos says:

    Members don’t vote because they think their vote won’t really matter. It doesn’t matter to them who gets elected because they perceive no difference – so, why vote? They do not perceive the SOA elections as a “contest” as you imply it is. It is a choice between candidates carefully selected by leadership – not members as in the old days when we had a first/second ballot process.

    The SOA’s insistence that an FSA’s right to “make nominations” means nothing more than making suggestions (which are ignored) disenfranchises FSAs, makes them seem even less important in the process, and less likely to participate.

    Have you seriously reviewed the Joint Discipllne Proposal? Instead of telling us what others have told you about it, why not tell us what you think?

    Essentially, what it does is combine 2 – 3 potential Discipline Panels (one for each member organization) into one. However, it leaves a lot of subjectivity to Boards or organization Discipline Panels who might still reverse, revise, or modify discipline recommendations made by the ABCD.

    Our profession’s discipline process won’t truly be improved for the betterment of our profession until the ABCD process is reviewed and significantly improved.

    If members don’t vote in quantity sufficient to provide a quorum for a vote on the Joint Discipline Proposal to be valid, it will be because they feel that what they have been presented is meaningless in any significant way.

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