Questions & Answers on the Nominating and Election Process
The SOA has developed this question and answer web page to help members understand the nominating and election process. Additional questions will be addressed throughout the election period, as necessary. Please send your questions to email@example.com.
How does the Nominating Committee rate the nominees to develop the ballot of best qualified candidates?
The Nominating Committee goes through a very thorough process to evaluate the nominees for all Board positions. This process includes review of a written questionnaire, a phone interview and feedback from the Board of Directors and other volunteers.
First, the nominees complete a questionnaire that asks about their experience, strategic thinking and core competencies. Each of the 10 Nominating Committee members evaluates those questionnaires independently and provides a score of 1-10.
Next, each nominee is interviewed by two Nominating Committee members during a 20-30 minute phone call. These interviews allow for the nominees to provide more detail about their communication skills, backgrounds, relevant experience and how they would approach their Board service. The interviewers score those calls independently, again on a 1-10 scale.
Also, each Nominating Committee member provides a preferential ranking of nominees, based not only on questionnaire responses and telephone interviews, but also on members' personal knowledge of nominees.
The final step in the process is a Nominating Committee conference call to determine the ballot. During the call the Nominating Committee reviews each member's scores and preferential ranking for each nominee as well as the Committee averages. Critical to the discussion are situations where nominees have been rated quite differently among Committee members. The discussion typically leads to broad consensus with regard to the strongest nominees. For a final slot on a particular ballot there may be two or more nominees rated virtually the same, in which case the Nominating Committee may refer to input and feedback received from the Board. Otherwise, the Board feedback does not influence the Nominating Committee's decisions.
The ballot that is developed is presented to the Board of Directors for approval. The Board is expected to adopt the ballot as presented, unless there are extenuating circumstances. If, based on information available to it, the Board of Directors believes a candidate is not appropriate for nomination to the Board, Vice President or Presidential office, it may withhold approval of the proposed ballot.
How is the Nominating Committee chosen?
Per the SOA Bylaws, the Nominating Committee is composed of Fellows appointed by the Leadership Development Committee, with input from the Board of Directors and the Leadership Team. (The Leadership Development Committee is made up of five members of the Board and two at-large members.) Nominating Committee members may not be candidates for election. No person may serve concurrently both as a member of the Nominating Committee and the Board of Directors. The membership of the Committee should be reasonably representative of the geographical distribution and occupational interests of the membership. The Committee selects the chair and vice-chair of the Committee, subject to the approval of the Board of Directors. Each member of the Nominating Committee serves a three-year term. No individual may serve more than two terms on the Committee.
Will the Nominating Committee disclose why certain nominees were not selected for the ballot?
No. It would be inappropriate to disclose that information and unfair to all candidates and the members of the Nominating Committee. It is important to note that not being selected for the ballot does not mean a nominee was unqualified for the position for which he/she was nominated. There are often many more qualified nominees than available ballot positions and, consequently, well-qualified nominees are often left off the ballot in any given year. The Nominating Committee faces a difficult task of selecting as candidates those it considers the best suited for the various Board positions, in light of the current needs of the Board and the SOA. A nominee not selected in one year could very well be selected for the ballot in a subsequent year. To suggest that a nominee left off the ballot in any given year is considered by the Nominating Committee to be unqualified for the position does a great disservice both to the nominee and to the Committee.
Does the Nominating Committee have any leeway in how many candidates may be selected for President-Elect?
As stated in the Nominating Committee Guidelines "Ordinarily the ballot will contain the names of three candidates for President-Elect, but there should be no fewer than two no more than three candidates."
Does the Nominating Committee give different consideration to candidates who self-nominate as opposed to those who are nominated by others?
No. Since the person nominating himself/herself must be a Fellow – otherwise, he/she would not be eligible for the elected position in the first place – it necessarily follows that the person has the right to make the nomination under Article III, Section 1(b) of the Bylaws. A Fellow's nomination of himself or herself is just as valid as a nomination of another Fellow, and there is nothing in the Bylaws to justify any different treatment of nominees who self-nominate versus those who are nominated by others. Therefore, all candidates who are nominated are given equal consideration by the Nominating Committee.
Are minutes of SOA Board meetings, including those from October 2009 when the Board directed the Nominating Committee to have no more than three President-Elect candidates on the ballot, available to members?
Minutes from Board meetings and conference calls from 2008 through September 2010 are available by contacting SOA Customer Service at 888.697.3900 or by e-mail.
Why does the Nominating Committee determine which candidates are on the ballot, as opposed to the members themselves?
The SOA previously used a two-step election process. A first round of voting served simply to eliminate some of the nominees, reducing the field to a smaller "second ballot" of those who were the actual candidates for election. A 2003 governance study revealed considerable member dissatisfaction with this two-ballot voting process and found that it did not always produce a strong slate of candidates for election.
The Bylaws were amended by the Board in 2006 to do away with the "first ballot" process and to establish the Nominating Committee, giving it this screening role. In 2007, SOA Fellows voted by more than a two-thirds majority to approve new Bylaws, including this role for the Nominating Committee. Article IX of the Bylaws makes the Committee "responsible for nominating candidates for election in accordance with SOA policies..." This process has now been used successfully in every SOA election since 2006. In choosing candidates for the ballot, the Nominating Committee is carrying out the role prescribed for it in the Bylaws and policies of the SOA.
Will the Nominating Committee disclose why it selects the names of certain candidates?
The Nominating Committee cannot disclose why it has selected certain nominees to be candidates (and not selected others), to protect the privacy of those who are considered, as well as the integrity of the Committee's deliberations. For these reasons, Nominating Committee members sign an agreement to maintain the confidentiality of all Committee meetings, discussions, deliberations and decisions. The Committee gives the same serious consideration to all Fellows nominated for office, but the Bylaws and adopted policies require them to make choices.
Don't the SOA Bylaws require that members' nominations will automatically appear on the ballot?
No. The SOA Bylaws (Article IX) make the Nominating Committee responsible for nominating candidates for election. While Fellows have a right to make nominations, that does not require (either today or under the old system) that any individual nominated by a Fellow would automatically be placed on the final election ballot. The SOA has obtained legal review of this question by internal and external counsel, who have confirmed that the Nominating Committee's role and the SOA's interpretation of the Bylaws is correct and fully complies with applicable laws.
Do a significant number of nominations carry weight with the Nominating Committee?
Only one nomination is required for a nominee to be considered by the Nominating Committee, and nominees were never encouraged or expected to seek additional nominations or endorsements. The number of nominations/endorsements (or lack thereof) received by the Nominating Committee for any potential candidate was therefore not a criterion that the Nominating Committee relied on in evaluating the nominees. All nominees receive the same thorough consideration by the Committee. In addition, the idea of counting nominations as a basis for selecting the final candidates would suggest we were returning to the old process of using a "first ballot" to determine the candidates for election. The membership decided to do away with that process several years ago.
Can members vote "none of the above" for various positions?
The ballot does not include a "none of the above" option. Members, of course, are free to choose not to vote for any of the presented candidates.
What are the criteria for the Board positions?
The President-Elect position description can be found here. Position descriptions for Vice President and Elected Board Members are here.