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GUIDANCE PREPARED BY THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
FOR KAVERI ANNUAL ELECTIONS

PREAMBLE:

Periodically during Kaveri annual elections, certain issues come up and the resolution of such issues is generally left to the discretion of the polling officers of the year. Any temporary resolutions achieved are generally forgotten until they arise again. In order to develop and document a consistent policy for future use by the polling officers and interested contestants, Kaveri Executive Committee (KEC), requested the Board of Trustees (BOT) to develop a guidance document to be used as a supplement to the existing election rules found in the Kaveri Constitution. BOT has the authority to take up issues of long-term interest as stipulated in its charter. Section I - Primary Functions of the BOT: Develop a long-term vision for the next five to ten years for Kaveri for the guidance of successive KECs, and recommend actions and programs that contribute to the fulfillment of that vision.

In response to KEC request, the BOT has developed a guidance document in the form of frequently asked questions and answers to be used by all voters, contestants and polling officers. This guidance is being made available to the general membership via the Kaveri website. Any written feedback from the Kaveri members on this proposed guidance will be gratefully received for due consideration by the BOT. The guidance developed here does not alter or affect the efficacy of Article VII dealing with the election rules or any other part of the current Kaveri Constitution. This guidance is intended to become effective as of November 7, 2009 and will be considered applicable to future elections until amended by the BOT.

Article VII of the Kaveri Constitution is reproduced below for ready reference.

ARTICLE VII: ELECTION RULES

Section I: The election of the office bearers and members of the executive committee and an auditor (as stated in Article V, Section II of the Constitution) shall be held at the time of the annual general body meetings of the association, youth committee representatives to the executive committee shall be elected by the youth committee within one month of the formation of the executive committee.

Section II: The executive committee shall appoint three polling officers approximately one month prior to the elections. Polling officers shall be members in good standing of the association.?

Section III: Any member (see Article IV, section II for definition of member) may be nominated and each nomination shall be signed by the candidate and one other member of the association. Self-nomination is allowed.

Section IV: To ensure fair election process, the ballot should be coded and the voting shall be conducted by secret balloting. Voting by proxy shall not be permitted.

Section V: Under extra ordinary circumstances polling officers can also seek nominations from the floor.


GUIDANCE DOCUMENT

Some frequently arising questions and proposed answers are listed below for consideration by the general membership. The contents in this document may not be altered without consent by the BOT. Polling officers, voters and contestants are encouraged to read this document and be familiar with the contents before conducting an election or participating in an election.

Q-1: Should there be any prerequisites or minimum qualifications for the candidates who aspire for leadership positions in Kaveri Executive Committee?

A-1: While it is not possible to prescribe any prerequisites or minimum qualifications to those who aspire for leadership, it will be extremely useful for candidates to work their way up the chain in a gradual manner. An individual having ambitions to be the president of Kaveri should be willing to set aside a few years of his/her time to learn the necessary management and people skills by serving as a member of the executive committee and in the capacity of an office bearer (treasurer, secretary, vice president etc.) before venturing into presidency. This process assures continuity and stability to the organization and smooth operation as well.

Q-2: Is the concept of a ?slate? of candidates acceptable? If so, would the elections be held between slates of candidates rather than between individuals?

A-2: There should be no objection if a group of people come together to form a team of compatible individuals to form the committee. However, the election will be for a particular office and for electing the necessary number of committee members. The winners of the election must be willing and able to serve irrespective of the outcome of the election without any reservation. Those who are unable or unwilling to meet such a test may not consider seeking a place on the KEC. The nomination papers should have a statement to this effect so that a candidate accepting nomination is fully committed to serving regardless of the outcome of the election.

Q-3: Can a candidate be on the ballot if he/she is not physically present on the day of the election?

A-3: A candidate is expected to be physically present during the election under normal circumstances. However, there could be exceptions when a candidate cannot be physically present because of emergency situations (for example, family circumstances, illness, job-related travel or other unavoidable circumstances beyond the candidate?s control). A candidate who knows that he/she will face a situation that prevents him/her from being physically present or faces a last minute emergency must submit in writing the reasons for absence to the polling officers in advance or forfeit the opportunity. The candidate can demonstrate sufficient interest by being in touch with the polling officers via telephone or e-mail on the day of the election. An oral excuse by someone on the candidate?s behalf should not be acceptable.

Q-4: Should there be a time limit before which a person should have become a member to either contest or vote in an election?

A-4: This question is not applicable to life members. For others, yes, there should be a limit. While KEC can continue to collect membership dues until the last day of its term, the list of eligible voters and contestants (must be one and the same) should be finalized by a certain date for example, 60 days prior to the election, or, no later than the Deepavali function. This should prevent any possibility of a group of individuals becoming members at the last moment just to contest in the election or influence the outcome.

Q-5: Should absentee ballots be permitted?

A-5: No. As long as we have an election in which we assemble during a general body to vote, we should not permit absentee ballots. (The current election rules are clear about this issue.)

Q-6: Should electronic voting be permitted?

A-6: This question needs careful consideration. If we do allow voting via e-mails, then we need to develop procedures. In this day and age of electronic communication, it may be hard to avoid voting by e-mail. Apparently, there are organizations that conduct such elections for a fee. The questions to be considered are: are we ready and is it necessary and what are some of the pitfalls? Until we establish the need for voting via e-mail, develop fool-proof procedures, or outsource the election entirely, we shall continue to have actual balloting during a general body meeting.

Q-7: What should be the procedure for filling vacancies (created by migration, resignation, dismissal, or demise of an elected member)?

A-7: If one or more positions become vacant because of any reason, the following procedure should be followed:

  • (1) For office-bearers, the higher position should be filled by the next immediate person in hierarchy. For example, the president?s position will be filled by the vice president; the secretary moves up to the position of vice president; the joint secretary becomes secretary and so forth.
  • (2) If the position of a committee member (non-office-bearer) becomes vacant, either the committee should manage to conduct the affairs with the remaining members or a new member may be co-opted from among the general membership. When an internal adjustment is not feasible for whatever reason, the membership at large should be informed through a general communication (electronic or otherwise) and volunteers should be sought for filling the vacancy/vacancies. The president, with input from the executive committee, should have the latitude to select from the list of volunteers. Above procedure should be acceptable when the number of vacancies does not exceed two.
  • (3) Under extra-ordinary circumstances (examples are: a large number of elected members resign, some members revolt against the leadership, serious charges are brought against the committee by general membership, etc.), special general body would be convened at the behest of the executive committee or a group of affected/interested/concerned members to deal with the situation.

SUMMARY

The guidance drafted here reflects past experiences of several senior members of Kaveri. BOT has requested and received input from members of past committees set up solely to revise the constitution and develop election rules. Several excellent suggestions by senior members have already been incorporated. This document is now open to written comments by general membership. Any life member or dues-paying member for the year 2009 is free to comment and provide written feedback.