Volume 87 Issue 31 | pp. 41-44
Issue Date: August 3, 2009

Council Preview

Adoption of one petition to amend election rules may prevent council’s consideration of another
Department: ACS News
Keywords: ACS Council, ACS constitution, petition
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When the ACS Council meets on Aug. 19 in the nation’s capital, it will debate changes to the ACS constitution and bylaws regarding national elections. The two petitions to amend the society’s governing documents appear to be mutually exclusive. Although exact procedures for councilor voting are still being discussed, it appears that if councilors agree that the first petition on the agenda is sufficiently urgent and subsequently approve it, they won’t be able to adopt the other at this meeting.

As background, names appear on ballots for ACS president-elect, district director, and director-at-large in one of two ways: Either councilors select candidates from a slate of nominees provided by the Committee on Nominations & Elections (N&E), or an individual can bypass the council by collecting a sufficient number of signatures and submitting them to the ACS executive director.

Over the past several years, N&E has brought forward petitions or rules changes that have resulted in new processes regarding ACS national elections. Specifically, the maximum length of candidates’ official election statements has been reduced, and the number of signatures required for access to national ballots by petition candidates for president-elect, district director, and director-at-large has increased markedly. These developments alarm proponents of the “Petition on Candidate Selection by Member Petition,” several of whom attained national office as petition candidates. They believe that members’ right to vote for whomever they choose is being threatened by N&E’s actions.

Their petition, which will be considered first, seeks to amend the ACS constitution to make it explicit that petition candidates are permitted in all national elections and that petition candidacy is not subject to review by the council. Signatories have requested that the petition receive “urgent action” from the council.

Committee Actions

Read official reports of committees that met during the June meeting of the ACS Board of Directors in the ACS News section of C&EN Online, www.cen-online.org/acsnews/87/8731acs2.html. Included are reports from the Standing Board Committees on Grants & Awards, Professional & Member Relations, and Public Affairs & Public Relations.

They say that their petition is urgent because the other petition up for council action is the N&E-sponsored “Petition on Election Timelines & Procedures 2009,” which would, among other things, amend the bylaws to require every potential candidate for president-elect, district director, and director-at-large—not just N&E nominees—to be subject to a vote of council before showing up on the ballot. Adoption of this petition would make ACS Council the gatekeeper to ballot access for all candidates, which its advocates believe is fairer than the current practice.

The likely procedure is as follows: Councilors will initially be asked to decide whether the first petition is so urgent that it is reasonable to bypass the usual practice of a petition’s being published for councilors’ information in one meeting agenda and then published again for full council action at the next meeting. For the “Petition on Candidate Selection by Member Petition” to be adopted at its Washington, D.C., debut, three-quarters of the councilors voting have to first agree that it’s urgent. If they do that, the petition itself can then be debated.

The petition will be considered adopted if it receives a majority vote of council. It would become effective upon ratification by two-thirds of the members of ACS voting. The pending constitutional amendment would be inconsistent with the bylaw amendments proposed in the “Petition on Election Timelines & Procedures 2009,” so that petition as written would no longer be subject to council approval in Washington, D.C.

If the first petition does not receive the three-quarters vote for urgency, it will automatically be placed on the council agenda for action at the next ACS national meeting in San Francisco. Then, council could turn its attention to the “Petition on Election Timelines & Procedures 2009,” which is printed on the following pages and is reasonably self-explanatory. Signatories propose to amend the bylaws to shorten the election cycle and to subject all potential candidates for president-elect, district director, and director-at-large to a vote of council before their names appear on the ballot. Petitioners, reacting in part to feedback from councilors and previous nominees for ACS office, believe that having all of these candidates subject to council review is fairer than current procedures.

In other business, councilors will be introduced to candidates and then elect members to the Committee on Committees, the Council Policy Committee, and the Committee on Nominations & Elections. At the division’s request, councilors will be asked to approve the dissolution of the Division of Chemical Technicians, effective Dec. 31. Councilors will also be asked to approve changes to templates for bylaws for divisions in probationary status, for new international chemical sciences chapters, and for new local sections. Finally, throughout the meeting’s debating and voting, councilors will hear oral reports from ACS officers and from the chairs of 27 committees.

Following are the text and associated reports of the petitions scheduled for action at the ACS Council meeting in Washington, D.C. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 19, beginning at 8 AM in the Grand Ballroom of the JW Marriott Hotel.

Petition On Candidate Selection By Member Petition

Article X, Sec. 3
Petition

We, the undersigned councilors of the American Chemical Society, hereby petition to amend the society Constitution as follows (additions underlined; deletions struck through):

Article X
Manner of Election
Sec. 3.

Nominations for President-Elect, Directors-at-Large, and District Directors shall be made as provided in the Bylaws. The selection of candidates shall be made through two distinct processes: a) a screening process conducted by the committee responsible for nominations and elections, and b) direct selection by members of the SOCIETY through a petition process provided in the Bylaws. Eligible persons selected by members through petition shall appear as candidates on the final ballot without further screening. For purposes of this Section, a nominee is a MEMBER whose name appears in an earlier step of the screening process and a candidate is a MEMBER whose name appears on a final ballot that elects a person to office where the candidate may be chosen in the screening process or in an alternative ways, such as by petition. (1/1/01)

Explanation
In any truly democratic organization, those who are entitled to vote in an election also have the inalienable right to nominate under appropriate conditions candidates to stand for election in addition to candidates nominated by any other means.

Petitioners view with alarm the recent changes in the election procedures in our organization. First, the length of candidates' official election statements was reduced from 1,000 to 750 words, and then the required number of signatures for petition nomination for president-elect was almost tripled. At the council meeting in Salt Lake City, a petition appeared for consideration and to be voted at the Washington, D.C., meeting under the original title, "Petition on Election Timelines 2009" (now, Alternate Version title, "Petition on Election Timelines & Procedures 2009"). However, the petition not only would decrease the amount of time available for the members to learn about the candidates for election but also would eliminate the members' right to nominate directly a candidate for the election. Substituted instead would be a process allowing the council to eliminate any or all petition candidates prior to ballots being prepared, thus negating the very reason for having a petition process.

Petitioners request urgent action. This petition does not require second reading, in our opinion, not only because in contrast to others it is very simple, but also because it addresses the basic rights of our members.

Signed: Robert P. Barron, Lesli Bordas, Elise Ann Brown, Michael J. Brownfield, Bela Buslig, Charles Cannon, Ronald D'Amelia, Richard S. Danchik, Jean Delfiner, George H. Fisher, Allan M. Ford, Onofrio G. Gaglione, Herbert S. Golinkin, James A. Hammond, George Heinze, Sheila Kanodia, Vijaya L. Korlipara, Joan A. Laredo-Liddell, Claude A. Lucchesi, N. Bhushan Mandava, Arthur E. Marcinkowsky, Samuel S. Markowitz, John Massingill, Brian L. Mundell, E. Ann Nalley, Gordon Nelson, John G. Nikelly, Anne T. O'Brien, Attila E. Pavlath, Eli M. Pearce, Howard M. Peters, Patricia Redden, Yorke E. Rhodes, Frank Romano, James Schreck, Susan M. Shih, David Strauss, E. Thomas Strom, James Tatera, Keith Vitense, James A. Walsh, Darrell Watson, E. S. Yamaguchi, Peter Zarras

This petition has been referred to the Committee on Nominations & Elections (committee having primary substantive responsibility), Council Policy Committee, Society Committee on Budget & Finance, and the Committee on Constitution & Bylaws.

Statement of Financial Impact
The Society Committee on Budget & Finance has examined this petition and concludes that it will have no impact on the finances of the society ($0).

Report of the Committee on Constitution & Bylaws
The Committee on Constitution & Bylaws has reviewed the petition and finds it to be legal and consistent with other provisions of the society's documents. The petition proposes to permit candidates to be selected by a petition process from members.

The intent of the framers of the constitution was to defer specifics about governance methods to the bylaws. Therefore, the specifics that the petitioners wish to insert in the constitution are placed more frequently in the bylaws. However, we see nothing in the constitution that would prevent them from making the changes they proposed. Given the intent of the petitioners as stated in their explanation, the Committee on Constitution & Bylaws recommends the changes as noted, including a correction to the revised petition title that's in the "Explanation" section.

Comments from committees, petitioners, and other interested members on the substance of the petition, should be directed to the Committee on Nominations & Elections, which has primary substantive responsibility for the petition. Other comments may be directed to C&B.

A related petition, "Election Timelines & Procedures 2009," appears on the agenda of this council meeting for action. In addition to changing the timing of the national election process, it proposes bylaw changes with respect to the petition process for nominees and candidates.

A three-fourths vote of council that sufficient urgency exists is required to take immediate action at this meeting. If so voted, a majority vote of council is required for adoption of an amendment to the constitution. If approved by council and confirmed by the board of directors, the amendment will become effective upon ratification by voting members of the society. If a three-fourths vote of council to take immediate action is not attained, the petition will be presented for consideration only. In this case, comments and suggestions from committees, petitioners, and other interested members on the substance of the petition should be directed to the Committee on Nominations & Elections. Other comments and suggestions may be directed to the Committee on Constitution & Bylaws.—Alan M. Ehrlich, Chair

Petition On Election Timelines & Procedures 2009

Bylaw V, Sec. 2, a,b,c,d (paragraph 1)
Bylaw V, Sec. 3, a,b,c (paragraph 1)
Bylaw V, Sec. 4, c,d,e,f (paragraph 1)
Bylaw V, Sec. 12
Petition

Bylaw V
Manner of Election
Sec. 1.

A candidate is a MEMBER whose name appears on the final ballot that elects a person to office. A nominee is a MEMBER whose name appears on an earlier ballot from which the Councilors select candidates. (9/24/94)

Sec. 2.
President-Elect

a. On or before January 15 March 1, the Committee on Nominations and Elections shall transmit to the Executive Director of the SOCIETY, for presentation to the Council, the names of four MEMBERS of the SOCIETY as nominees for President-Elect. The names of the nominees shall be communicated to members of the Council by March 15. (9/29/94)

b.c. Members of the SOCIETY may nominate additional candidates nominees for President-Elect by providing to the Executive Director by July June 15, nominating petitions endorsed by at least one-half percent (0.5%) of the SOCIETY membership entitled to vote in the SOCIETY's most recent fall national election, with neither more than one-sixth (1/6) of that from members of a single Local Section nor more than two-thirds (2/3) from any one District of the SOCIETY. Each member may nominate no more than one candidate nominee for President-Elect in a given election. The names of any candidates duly nominated by petition shall be included on the ballot along with the names of those candidates selected by the Council. (6/7/08)

c.b. The Council, at a meeting to be held not later than May October 1, shall select as candidates for President-Elect two of the nominees one-half (1/2) of the number of nominees (including both those chosen by the Committee on Nominations and Elections and those nominated by member petitioners) presented under the provisions of these Bylaws. If an odd number of nominees is presented to Council, then the number of candidates to be selected will be rounded to the next higher integer. (9/29/94)

d. On or before October 10 31, the Executive Director shall distribute to each member of the SOCIETY a ballot containing the names of all candidates for President-Elect and constructed as provided herein. (6/2/07)

[Note: The remaining paragraphs in Section 2, d are not affected by the proposed changes].

Sec. 3.
Director-at-Large

a. On or before January March 15, the Committee on Nominations and Elections shall transmit to the Executive Director of the SOCIETY the names of the MEMBERS of the SOCIETY selected as candidates for the positions of Director-at-Large to be filled. The number of such candidates shall be at least twice the number of such positions to be filled. These names shall be announced to the Council at a meeting to be held not later than May 1 The names of the nominees shall be communicated to members of the Council by March 15. (9/29/94)

b. Members of the SOCIETY may nominate additional candidates for Director-at-Large by providing to the Executive Director by July June 15, nominating petitions endorsed by at least one-fourth percent (0.25%) of the SOCIETY membership entitled to vote in the SOCIETY's most recent fall national election, with neither more than one-sixth (1/6) of that from members of a single Local Section nor more than two-thirds (2/3) from any one District of the SOCIETY. Each member may nominate no more than one candidate per Director-at-Large position in a given election. The names of any candidates duly nominated by petition shall be included on the ballot along with those nominated by the Committee on Nominations and Elections. (6/7/08)

c. On or before October 10 31, the Executive Director shall distribute to each voting Councilor a ballot containing the names of all candidates for the positions of Director-at-Large to be filled. If there are multiple positions to be filled, those candidates receiving the greatest numbers of votes shall be declared elected Directors-at-Large. (6/2/07)

[Note: The remaining paragraphs in Section 3, c are not affected by the proposed changes.]

Sec. 4.
District Director

c. On or before January March 15, the Committee on Nominations and Elections shall transmit to the Executive Director of the SOCIETY the names of not fewer than four MEMBERS of the SOCIETY as nominees for each position of District Director to be filled. Each nominee must be entitled to vote in the District electing the District Director for which the nominee would be a candidate. When elected, each District Director may serve a complete term despite changes in Local Section or address or in any District boundary. (1/1/01)

d.e. One percent of the members of the SOCIETY entitled to vote in the District electing a District Director, not more than one-third (1/3) of whom are assigned to any one Local Section, may nominate an individual candidate for District Director by filing a petition with the Executive Director by July June 15. Each member may nominate no more than one candidate individual for District Director in a given election. A petition candidate nominee must be entitled to vote in the District electing the District Director for which the MEMBER is a candidate nominee. The names of any petition candidates shall be included on the ballot along with the names of those selected by the District's Councilors. (10/19/04)

e.d. On or before March 1 July 15, the Executive Director shall send distribute a ballot to each Councilor in the District electing a District Director; the ballot shall contain the names of the nominees for District Director of that District, as selected by the Committee on Nominations and Elections or duly nominated by petition. Ballots shall be returned to the Executive Director no later than four weeks after the ballots are distributed. One-half (1/2) of the number of nominees (including both those chosen by the Committee on Nominations and Elections and those nominated by member petitioners) will be selected as candidates. If an odd number of nominees is presented to that District's Councilors, then the number of candidates to be selected will be rounded to the next higher integer. The two nominees receiving the greatest number of votes candidates shall be announced to the Council orally at its next meeting or, if timing does not permit, in the official organ of the SOCIETY, as candidates for District Director of the District. (10/19/04)

f. On or before October 10 31, the Executive Director shall distribute to each member of the SOCIETY entitled to vote in the District electing a District Director a ballot containing the names of all the candidates for Director from that District and constructed as provided herein. (6/2/07)

[Note: The remaining paragraphs in this Section 4, f are not affected by the proposed changes.]

Sec. 12.
Procedure for Special Elections

If, in a specific nomination or election, circumstances do not permit the procedures prescribed elsewhere in these Bylaws to be carried out, the Committee on Nominations and Elections shall forthwith devise a special procedure. If such election will have the effect of filling an office for a longer period longer than six months, the special procedure shall include an opportunity for nomination of candidates by petition, which differs from the regular procedure for the office involved only in the date that petitions must be received by the Executive Director. Such procedure shall be transmitted to and publicized promptly by the Executive Director, and used for that specific nomination or election. (9/29/94)

Explanation
Councilors and candidates have asked the Committee on Nominations & Elections (N&E) to consider changing the timing of the national election process (i.e., elections for president-elect, directors-at-large and district directors) as part of an overall improvement to ensure that the national election process is both fair and equitable. Candidates routinely express concern about the length of time between being asked to run by N&E (becoming formal nominees or candidates) and the time of the actual election. Candidates also complain about the length of the campaign period, which starts one month after the spring national meeting and runs until ballots are counted in November, and about the unfair exclusion of petitioners from the full election/vetting process.

In response to councilor and nominee/candidate concerns, N&E surveyed ACS councilors and other members (2004) to determine their understanding of and satisfaction with the current nominations and elections process. In 2007, the committee continued its review by conducting three councilor conference calls, and hosting a town hall meeting at the fall national meeting. This was another opportunity to solicit comments and advice on the petition process and the nature of campaigning. Earlier this year, the committee again sought councilor input and perspectives—this time on the possibility of shortening the president-elect timeline. In this forum as in other surveys and calls, councilors consistently encouraged refinement of the current election process.

The proposed timeframe should make the campaign process less onerous for all nominees and allow full participation of candidates in the council review process. N&E has worked diligently to address the needs of both groups. The revised timeline is accomplished by three steps:

The entire election process is compressed, therefore the allowable campaign time is also reduced, but kept equal for all nominees.

All petition candidates, except those for director-at-large, will become petition nominees, thus allowing them to participate in all aspects of the election that the N&E nominees currently engage in, namely the Town Hall Meeting, and, for president-elect nominees, the opportunity to address council. Modified procedures already approved allowing electronic gathering of petition signatures ensure that petitioners are provided sufficient time between the announcement of the formal nominees/candidates and the petition deadline to decide whether to run and then to obtain the necessary signatures.

Council will now vet all nominees and determine the final candidates to be placed on the ballot. These actions allow council the opportunity to select the best candidates for the membership to consider. Council would select half of the nominees (50% of the nominees raised to the next highest integer when there is an odd number) and would maintain the number of candidates to a more desirable number should there be a large number of petition nominees.

These proposed election procedure refinements are intended to provide a fair, consistent and equitable process, which balances the concerns and needs of all participants, as requested by councilors and candidates.

Signed: Frank D. Blum, Philip W. Crawford, Carol A. Duane, Merle I. Eiss, Steven A. Fleming, Bruce A. Hathaway, Ruth A. Hathaway, Peter C. Jurs, Bjorn Olesen, John G. Palmer, Roger A. Parker, Arlyne M. Sarquis, Barbara A. Sawrey, Herbert B. Silber, Rachel Morgan Theall

This petition has been referred to the Committee on Nominations & Elections (committee having primary substantive responsibility), Council Policy Committee, Society Committee on Budget & Finance, and the Committee on Constitution & Bylaws.

Final Statement of Financial Impact
The Society Committee on Budget & Finance has examined this petition and concludes that it will have no impact on the finances of the Society ($0).

Final Report of the Committee on Constitution & Bylaws
The Committee on Constitution & Bylaws has reviewed the petition and finds it to be legal and consistent with other provisions of the society's documents. The petition amends procedures for national elections found in bylaw V for president-elect (Sections 2a–2d), directors-at-large (Sections 3a–3c), district directors (Sections 4c–4f) and special elections (Section 12). The objectives of the petitioners are to address interests in accelerating and compressing the timing of the national election process as part of an overall effort to ensure that the national election process is fair, equitable and efficient. The committee, in consultation with representatives of the petitioners, has prepared a revised version of the petition. The substance of the petition and the intent of petitioners are maintained.

A request has not been received from a majority of the petitioners to place the original petition on the Council agenda for action if the revised version now before council is not adopted.

Comments from committees, petitioners and other interested members on the substance of the petition should be directed to the Committee on Nominations & Elections, which has primary substantive responsibility for the petition. Other comments may be directed to the Committee on Constitution & Bylaws.

A two-thirds vote of Council is required for approval of amendments to the bylaws. If approved by council, the amendments will become effective upon confirmation by the board of directors.—Alan M. Ehrlich, Chair

 
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