The IED received a request for a ruling on Michael’s candidacy for Secretary, on grounds that it would violate the terms of our by-laws and a Censure Resolution which barred Michael from administering chapter elections. We as a committee looked over the original Resolution as well as our bylaws and Standing Election Rules, and have come to the conclusion that Michael is able to hold the position of Secretary under both, with some caveats:
In order to maintain compliance with the resolution and the bylaws, which bar Michael from administering elections, we recommend the Steering Committee create a new Opavote account connected to some other chapter email account.
We advise the incoming Steering Committee not assign Michael with any responsibilities of election administration.
We advise the Steering Committee to update Clause 11, Section 11 of the Standing rules to remove responsibility from overseeing section and working group leadership elections.
We advise the Steering Committee to develop a clear policy for organizing elections which the previous Secretary may have administered over the past year so that elections typically conducted by the prior Secretary occur without issue.
We are providing our specific reading of the Resolution, in conjunction with our Bylaws and Standing Election Rules, with the purpose of full transparency:
A summary of the Censure Resolution “Therefore” clauses, with respect to Michael M. specifically:
- running for any seat on the Steering Committee in our chapter until December 2022 (point 6, under the “Therefore” clause)
- administering any internal elections until December 2023, including but not limited to verifying that candidates are members in good standing, setting up candidate forums, creating and sending out electronic ballots, or verifying election results.(point 6, under the “Therefore” clause)
As this Resolution stands, Michael is allowed to run for Steering Committee this cycle, but cannot administer any internal elections until December 2023.
The Chapter Constitution has several provisions related to both the administering of elections and the duties of the Secretary. The full language of 7.2 Elections and Terms outlines the requirements of each candidate and some other requirements, but does not outline how an internal election is administered:
The voting members of the Steering Committee will be elected each year through a secret electronic ballot sent to all chapter members. Steering Committee elections shall occur in conjunction with the MDC DSA local convention. To be eligible to vote in a Steering Committee election, chapter members must have been a member in good standing at least 30 days prior to the start of the MDC DSA local convention.
No person may hold more than one office, but an individual may run for both an officer position and an at-large position; if an individual is elected to an officer position, they will be eliminated from the at-large election.
The bylaws do not provide the Secretary with duties or responsibilities to do such administration.
To clarify, the Secretary has not administered any steering committee election since the creation of the IED. In chapter-wide steering, endorsement and priority campaign elections, the IED has developed the policies and processes, in accordance with the bylaws, that constitute the election. The IED has also been responsible for carrying out the general tasks required to carry out an election. These tasks include: setting up the ballot, resolving voting issues, verifying membership, coordinating a chapter forum, sending replacement ballots and verifying results. The previous Secretary has assisted in providing member rosters and uploading information, but these have been out of personal prerogative not mandate, and members of our IED have done these tasks in the past and are not restricted from carrying these out given technical permissions.
However, the chapter Opavote is linked to the Secretary email account for historical reasons, and we cannot change the setting that signs the secretary’s name. We will recommend to the Steering Committee to create a new Opavote account from the IED email. Additionally, we will advise the Steering Committee not to assign Michael with any responsibilities of election administration.
We are aware that the prior Secretary has administered some branch elections in the past, but this was out of personal prerogative, not a mandate or responsibility of the Secretary. However, given that aiding in branch elections has become assumed to be taken on by the Secretary, we will recommend the Steering Committee to identify another member or standing body to underline these elections to ensure these critical chapter processes aren’t overlooked.
There is one location in the bylaws that links the Secretary to elections or ballots is Section 3.1.2 Electronic Voting and Participation, which tasks the Steering Committee and Administrative Committee with “ensuring that members may electronically attend in-person general body meetings and exercise their membership rights” and notes that the secretary may make policies around General Body Meeting votes. However, in our bylaws, General Body Meeting votes and their processes are separately outlined in section, process, and language from Steering Committee Elections. Additionally, the Censure Resolution did not bar Michael from overseeing General Body votes or any of his other outlined duties, though the IED has administered General Body Opavotes, including endorsements.
Therefore, we read that the Resolution was not meant to prevent Brendan or Michael from being restricted from overseeing or setting policies regarding General Body votes, and that our bylaws are in conjunction with the Censure Resolution to allow for Michael to serve as Secretary, as long as no other internal rule or Resolution requires him to oversee internal elections or any other prohibited activity.
The IED looked into the Resolutions passed since 2019 and found only one Resolution or Rule related specifically to the Secretary’s duties and internal elections, the Standing Rules for Internal Elections, passed March 29, 2021. These rules provide for an insulated Internal Elections Department, to be appointed by the Steering Committee. There are some requirements for the Steering Committee and Administrative Committee to provide lists to the IED to administer the work, but the IED is drafted as an insulated body outside of Steering Committee oversight.
However, Section 11 of the Standing Rules does give the IED pause:
- In the event of leadership elections for an elected leadership team of a working group or section, the Secretary shall be empowered to administer the election. Any disputes arising from such elections may be appealed to the Steering Committee.
This section of the Rules would contradict the Resolution which prevents Michael from administering any internal elections. We will advise the Steering Committee to update this clause to remove responsibility from the Secretary. This could be updated before the election, and we do not believe clarifying this resolution would undermine the intent of the Censure Resolution or our chapter’s commitment to restorative justice.
As the IED, we are tasked with implementing the election according to our bylaws and any standing rules or resolutions under which the chapter operates. We are not empowered to, and do not, make any judgments on Michael’s personal actions or fitness to serve as Secretary, only that he can under our bylaws and resolutions.
Gary Z, Ali T, and Lauren K
Internal Elections Department, Winter 2022