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jackmessick

Can Voters in OA Elections really abstain?

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We will be having Order of Arrow elections in a couple of weeks, the first one ever for the troop (currently I am an adult leader and the only one in the troop that is an active member of O.A.). But just last week we added 8 new Scouts from a local Webelos den. So I should think that they wouldn't feel comfortable voting for people they barely know. But if they vote for nobody, then it makes it tougher for the candidates to get elected. OR, can the new boys abstain and have the vote neither count for or against? I don't have a Lodge Officer and Adviser's guide, so I am not sure what the accepted rule is.

 

jam, a.k.a. Klamachpin

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Yes they can really abstain. They are allowed to abstain for that very reason. If scouts, treating the election like a joke, write in a person that isn't eligible like Johnny New Scout or Mickey Mouse, then that vote counts as well, not towards electing Mickey Mouse, but counts as a blank ballot, thus hurting a persons chance to get into the OA. good luck with your election.

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During your election the Scouts should be told "If you are new in the Troop and do not know the candidates well enough to vote wisely, you may abstain by not turning in a ballot at all, and this will not affect the final results." A scout is elected by being on one half the ballots turned in. You must have at least one half your registered active scouts there in order for the election to be held.

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jam,

 

Very good question and I'm glad you asked. I've seen this foul up a troop's election. As others have said, a blank ballot turned in is really a vote "against" all eligible candidates. It's perfectly acceptable to have brand new scouts who don't know the candidates abstain from the election.

 

The easiest way to handle the new guys is simply to plan an alternate activity for them while the rest of the troop participates in the OA election. A good one would be for them to be in another room or outside working on their Scout or Tenderfoot advancement or having fun with some basic skills to get them ready for their first campout. You can have your Troop Guides (or other scouts working with First Year Scouts) quickly fill out their ballots before slipping out with the new guys.

 

Good luck!

 

-mike

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I think the new scouts should still participate in the election if they want to. It's possible that they go to school with the other boys or were in the same pack. It's also good PR for them to see the election. Let the boys decide on their own if they should abstain or not, don't decide for them. Stress to them the importance of the election and what it means. It should inspire them to be like the boys who get elected so they can be recognized.

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Also make sure you stress the diference between turning in a blank ballot and not turning in one at all, as elections teams often are not clear about this.

 

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Mike F. I hope you don't mean we should intentionally exclude new Scouts. I think that it is important that new Scouts be present for the election and be given the opportunity to vote, if they feel that they want to. Order of the Arrow is an honor that held up before all Scouts to see, to understand, and hopefully to aspire to. It should inspire them to be honor campers.

 

However, it is extremely critical that we stress the difference between a blank ballot and no ballot. This year one of our boys was not elected because of a blank ballot.

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Our elections were last month. The OA rep came to the meeting. Ask me who was eligible. 1st class and having camped at least 15 nights.

I gave him 6 names. He talked to the troop about voting. Explaining that it is not who is popular but who they think has shown leadership qualities. That they could vote for everyone on the list, no one on the list or the scouts they felt earned the honor.

 

We had 4 boys elected and they were tapped out this past weekend at Camporee. Two were not. One boy was hurt. He just finished a term as SPL. The boys were uphappy with him. He treated the position like a joke. And the boys vote reflected that. He is going to apoligize to the troop. He understands the main reason he was not voted in.

Back to the original question. If the new scouts are on your roster, they may be included in the %of Scouts eligible to vote. So I would say let them vote. Even if they only vote for one boy. They start being part of the process.

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Lynda J,

 

I am sure you followed the correct procedure in certifying eligibility, but in case there is someone out there who is not familiar with the process, I thought I should clarify, expand, and correct what you stated about who is eligible for election.

 

 

Eligibility to be elected by a Boy Scout Troop or Varsity Scout Team as a youth in the Order of the Arrow are based on the following things:

 

Be a registered member of the Boy Scouts of America, under 21 years of age (an exemption exists for certain special needs units).

Show Scout spirit by living the Oath and Law and being an active member of the unit.

Have achieved at least the First Class rank.

Have completed at least 15 days and nights of Scout camping within the last 2 years. This must include at least one, but no more than one, long term camp of 6 days and 5 nights at a BSA resident camp. The remaining days and nights must be short term camps.

 

 

This isn't an exact quote, but that is more or less what the eligibility amounts to.

 

The unit leader must certify the Scouts spirit and must confirm that they meet all other requirements in order to be eligible for the election. Unit leader approval must be given before the election.

 

 

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Thanks for making ita little clearer. I was just doing the short and sweet. I am really proud of two of the boys that were taped out. Both are in their second year. Made 1st class just before they had been in a year and have almost 20 days of camping. Good kids. One has 12 badges 5 of which are Eagle. And is working on two more Eagle badges. Very focused and loves scouting.

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BSAChaplain,

 

Yes - I did mean to say that the new scouts could be intentionally excluded.

The recommendation to do so was given to me several years ago by one of our Lodge Elections Advisors. This occurred after our second or third year in a row of having a very poor election percentage apparently due to brand new scouts (within their first month of joining and before their first campout with troop) who didnt know the eligible candidates, but submitted ballots anyway.

 

Im not saying this is generally the best answer. The OA Guide to Inductions (http://www.oa-bsa.org/resources/pubs/gti/GuideToInductions.pdf) makes the following point in numerous places: In you are new in the troop and do not know the candidates well enough to vote wisely, you may abstain by not turning in a ballot at all, and this will not affect the final result. P.66

 

But in practice, its hard to put a ballot into a brand new scouts hands, and then suggest he not turn it in.

 

If a new scout is in his first few weeks in a troop, I dont think hell miss much by not being there for the first of more to come. If done well, it keeps him out of an awkward situation and gives him and his other First Year buddies more time to work on some fun skill stuff.

 

Note: I cant find anything in the guide that says all registered members of a troop must be allowed to vote, but there is a requirement that at least 50% of the troops registered membership participate in the election for the election to be valid. If slipping the new guys out back will take you below this number, its not an option.

 

For the record, we now schedule our elections between recharter and the mass influx in March to avoid this issue completely.

 

-mike

 

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Mike F. - Well I can't say as I agree with decision to exclude or with your Lodge Elections Advisor for that matter. However, I completely agree with your choice of timing. Our Lodge send teams out in January and February. Our Troop's last election was held on a night when we had 10 Webelos visiting, so they saw the presentation, but were not able to vote.

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Just a follow up with everybody.

 

I hate to say it, but Mike F. was right. We emphasized, twice, that if you don't know everybody, you should abstain, and that there was nothing wrong with that.

 

But I think these boys were excited about being able to vote for something, and they all voted for boys they knew from school. I wasn't sure of the school affiliation (I'm just an ASM), but our Scoutmaster was, and he figured it out from the results later that night.

 

His desire is to void this election, since the earliest Ordeal is still months away, and let the boys get to know each other better, at least for more than one month and a one overnight camp. I am talking to the local Lodge adult leadership now about this, but am not too confident this will be an option.

 

While I would not recommend Mike F's not allowing boys to vote, future recommendations are

 

1) have an election before any influx of new boys (I always thought that happened more in September than in February/March, but I guess that is no longer the case).

 

2) have the election 2 or 3 months after the influx.

 

sadder but wiser,

 

jam

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If the election was properly carried out and documented then there is no grounds to void it. If the SM felt at the time it was flawed due to irregularities then was the time to void it. The boys voted, just cause you don't like the results does not mean you get to void it. I hope the Lodge holds firm on this or the boys will get a bad lesson from this

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