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gcnphkr

OA Elections in Large Troops

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We just had our election. We have 57 registered in the troop. 46 were present, 41 cast ballots. Making 21 votes the threshold to be elected. We had 15 who stood for election. Only a few received the required number of votes. There were none who were elected by a wide margin. All in all, there were 10 who received between 19 and 23 votes and for the most part they would have been the ones I would have picked. It seems the method of voting tends to be biased towards the more popular and outgoing scouts, while the scouts that may be quieter and serve mostly within the patrol get left out because other scouts don't know them well enough to vote for them. I'd expect this to become more of a problem as the troop grows. Next year I expect about 24 to be eligible.

 

It seems to me that a better method would be to have a ballot with all the scouts listed and a yes and a no box by each. The scouts could then abstain on individual scouts that they don't know but still be able to vote for or against those that they do know. It doesn't seem right to effectively make a scout vote "No" for 14 scouts just because he wants to vote "Yes" for one and may not have an opinion on most of the others. The instructions in the adviser's guide imply that the scouts write the names of the scouts they are voting for, but we've provided a list for several years now. Would this additional change be too much? I don't know.

 

On the other hand. The case can be made that scouts worthy of the honor will be well known and therefore get the votes that they need.

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jet - This is definitely something that we need to evaluate and educate on more effectively. There is one troop in my council that regularly charters around 80 scouts. Each year they put forward a handful youth candidates and two adults. Of those who go through the Ordeal, I think about 10 to 15 youth are currently due-paid members. Of those youth, I probably see 4 at events. So, it might be valuable to National to look into your suggestion.

 

Your comment about popular and outgoing Scouts being elected is standard, even for small troops. For the answer to this, we need to look at the stated purpose of the OA. In the election video, the advise for voting is something along the lines of the scout who you enjoy camping with, smiles, is friendly to all, and generally lives up to the Scout Oath and Law in their daily life. Who would most Scouts like to go camping with and view as friendly, the Scout who talks to lots of different people, makes jokes, and is always friendly, or the Scout who is much more reserved, sticks to the people he is comfortable with, and simply does his patrol job without reaching for more? For most scouts, there is a clear difference. Part of it is popularity. If it weren't, every Scout who met the requirements would be inducted.

 

The biggest problem I see with your method is standards. Everyone would have different vote necessities. If only the kid's best friend thinks he knows him well enough to vote for him, that would mean he is in. Is this actually a situation that you want to allow?

 

As for the list, I actually encourage that troops make up lists of the candidates rather than have the scouts write the names down. There are several reasons for that one. First, it makes it a heck of a lot easier for the election team, as there shouldn't be any handwriting issues (not to say that there can't be ambiguous marks on the ballot...). Second, it actually helps those scouts you are trying to promote. A kid is more likely to circle a name than write it out. Especially with 15 people on the ballot, it can be important to have pre-printed ballots. However, individual abstentions are stretching it in my opinion.

 

Your OTOH comment is correct and has issues at the same time. I've noticed, at least in my lodge, those youth who are active in the OA tend to be active in their troop. Their skills are known by those in their troop, and they are respected thusly. However, as you already know, making a blanket statement like that is dangerous because there will always be that one exception. But, you already know that bit...

 

I know that I haven't really solved your problem, but I hope you have some more thoughts to mull over now.

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Part of it may be just my surprise at only having about half as many as I expected being elected.

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jet,

 

My troop has around 60 registered as well. My son is a Chapter officer and I've driven/provided supervision to a fair number of elections. I can't speak for the other troops in our district. The lection team shows up, does their thing, counts the votes and leaves. I heard of one election team who witnessed the SM asking who wasn't OA and everyone who raised their hand went on the ballot. Since the election team has to take the SM's word that they meet the qualifications, there is little the team can do. In our own troop I have seen mixed results. We have one scout who is 17 and to my knowledge has never been on the ballot even though he technically met the requirements long ago. The SM has kept him off the ballot. He only camps or comes to meetings if his dad does. Despite our best efforts over the years, he will not stay in his patrol area and comes to the adult area and orbits his dad like a moon. His dad doesn't do a thing to help this situation. The only leadership the boy has been willing to take on has been repeated turns at librarian and his dad ends up sorting and organizing the work. He never assists his patrol in their duties, goes to lengths to avoid work and is never willing to step up in leadership. If/when an adult calls him on any of this, he gets defensive and smart mouthed. He doesn't have any kind of mental or emotional issues. He is just lazy and attached at the hip to an enabling father. The father on the other hand has served for years as our popcorn kernel, regularly dos FOS presentations and often plans the adult menu, purchases food and cooks on campouts. Dad has complained about son not being on the ballot. The SM decided to put him on the ballot to see what would happen with the thought that the boys (who are usually as underwhelmed with him as the adults) would reject him. He at least could tell the dad that he was on the ballot and not elected. To our surprise, he passed by one vote. We were dumbfounded. In our large troop, we usually have a pretty good idea of how the elections will turn out. The election teams do a good job of explaining the process and the the boys seem to be pretty descriminating in who they vote for. Once in a while they throw you a curve ball like this kid. It remains to be seen if he will actually do Ordeal after the callout in a couple of weeks.

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Yeah, generally the scouts do a good job in their selections. So far I've allowed everyone to stand for the election who is "qualified" even if I wouldn't vote for them. It has been rare that one is elected.

 

Part of the issue this year is that our ceremonialists are getting old and we need new blood, so our ceremony adviser was not happy and wanted to know why I didn't add some extra votes to the ballots. I guess that would be a solution, give the unit leader some discretion to put a scout or two over the threshold. There where at least two I would have done that with if I could have.

 

 

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What does that say about the effectiveness of youth elections if the SM adds in votes? An adult's wishes should not override the decision of the youth in elections. Whatever the outcome, there will be a way to survive it. They'll have another chance in a year.

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No matter what the results, unless no one is elected on the first round (and there is a policy on that one allowing a revote), You should NEVER do revotes or "add" a few ballots. What does that teach our charges?

 

As a CA I had a SM try and intimidate an election team one time. Tried to get one scout unelected and another elected. He said the scout elected was not any good, yada yada yada, yet he allowed the scout on the ballot by signing the form. It was a very heated discussion.(This message has been edited by eagle92)

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yeah, that is basically what I told him. A scout is trustworthy, even when we don't like it.

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I instruct my election teams to emphasis that the election is not a contest and not a popularity contest.There is no reason to not vote for a boy who is an active scout that follows the scout oath and law.

Since there is no limit anymore to how many boys can be selected you are just giving your aproval for them to go to an ordeal.They will then show whether they will be good arrowmen.

It is very helpfull to have a ballot availiabe with names of those being considered.

Youth elections are always an adventure and you may not always be happy with the results but as an adult you can do know more than advise you can not override the youth.

 

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Boys can choose to abstain if they don't know the candidates well enough. I think perhpas this point should be emphasized with the boys. If they abstain, it is as if they were not at the election and it is not as if they voted against the boys.

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There should ALWAYS be a ballot. The election team has to have something to count, verify and audit.

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The Guide for Officers and Advisers talks about the voter listing names or possibly turning in a "blank ballot". So, yes, there should be ballots, but it is implied that the ballots are just blank pieces of paper, not a list of names with check boxes.

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Or a blank ballot could mean one that has no check marks next to the listed names.

 

Election teams should work with the SM ahead of time once the election is scheduled. A printed ballot makes life much, much simpler for everyone involved if you don't want hanging chad moments.

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We use ballots with the names preprinted on them. We get a lot more consistency that way and less chance for error. We also have each candidate say a few words about why they should be in OA.

 

Vicki(This message has been edited by Vicki)

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