Published: November 10, 2015

EUSPBA completes first online election of officers

The Eastern United States Pipe Band Association has announced the results of what would appear to be the first-ever online vote for executive committee roles, producing a dramatic increase in input from members.

More than 50 percent of the EUSPBA’s 2,800-plus member-votes were cast online, with a total of 1,442 counted. In the organization, solo members have one vote and each member band counts as seven votes. Because of the speed of the process the organization announced the results in advance of its annual general meeting on November 13th, enabling those elected to make travel plans to the meeting in Baltimore.

“We see the new voting format continuing well into the future,” said EUSPBA Vice-President Jim Dillahey. “Not only does the digital ballot save the EUSPBA thousands of dollars in printing and mailing costs, but the number of members voting more than doubled. No ballots were thrown out for being filled out incorrectly and nobody had to find a stamp. The process of the election using the voting program Simply Voting is totally blind in that as the election manager, I couldn’t see the individual votes cast, however I could see who had voted and then send reminders to those who had not voted yet.”

Dillahey said that obtaining valid working email addresses for member “was not exactly a simple task,” but through the effort the organization now has its most up-to-date email database ever, which will allow further digital communication between the EUSPBA members and leadership at the branch and executive levels.

Until now, associations have required members to vote physically at meetings, either in-person or with a member carrying their hand-written proxy, generally resulting in only a small fraction of an association’s membership deciding elected officers and rule and policy changes.

For example, the approximately 1,200-member Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario, which requires in-person or hand-delivered proxy voting, saw a total of about 100 combined votes, or a less-than-10-percent of overall membership determining key positions and rules at its 2015 AGM. Among the positions decided at the meeting were President, Vice-President, Treasurer and two Member At Large roles on its executive committee. Numerous rules and policies were also determined by eight percent of members.

The EUSPBA typically sees at most 20 percent of members attend its AGM. The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, with approximately 250 member bands has a stronger percentage turnout, with representation from about 25 percent of them at its AGM. Because the RSPBA does not represent solo players, they work from a one-band = one-vote system.

In the EUSPBA online election, Carole Hackett was elected to the important Officer At Large position, against David Bailiff, James Davidson and Andrew Kerr. Matt Wood and Sheldon Hamblin each stood unopposed for Treasurer and Executive Secretary, respectively, and were reaffirmed.

In the EUSPBA online process, members could only vote for officers. Motions to change rules and policies will still be decided in-person at the organization’s AGM.

A source close to the EUSPBA said that most motions tabled simply go to the organization’s Music Board or Executive for consideration, and generally are then rejected, possibly playing in to the decision not to make motions subject to online voting.

Dillahey said that “the discussion is an invaluable part of the process” when it comes to changes to rules and policies, so the online method would not work when voting on motions from branches.

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