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PL Elections - Survivor Style

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I've written about a particularly challenging young lad in my troop. See http://www.scouter.com/forums/viewThread.asp?threadID=46779 for more info on him. SMRichmond's comment about bullying in the SPL election is remotely similar to what I see potentially happening in our next PL elections.


This weekend, on a campout, I overheard this boy (we'll call him Billy) talking to one of the other boys in his patrol. The boy he was talking to is not one of our shining stars either. He is a little slow, and tends to follow the crowd. He doesn't have any initiative, and is easily encouaged to follow along - especially when it's our problem child doing the encouraging. Anyway, Billy was telling him that if he voted for him for PL, he would make him his APL.


This is the second time I've heard Billy say this to him. I also think he's working some sort of deal with another boy in his patrol. It reminds me of Survivor, how the contestents are all finagling some sort of alliance with each other, trying to make it to the end.


Have any of you experienced this? Any advice? Or do I just butt out and see where it goes?

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I am very much against the idea of the "you vote for me and I will make APL". This is particularly troubling because he could be making that exact deal with every member of the patrol and no one would know until it is too late. Also, if he is elected, he should be selecting his APL based on merit, not on who they voted for. This isn't good. I would suggest that a good way to deal with this would be to have the PLC set down some guidelines about campaigning.


I don't mind campaigning, but this seems more like bribery. Though I guess this is minor compared to what goes on with OA section elections... Ah, the blissful days before I knew too much...

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We do not know that he told other members he would make them the APL if they voted for him.

I took Proud Eagles post to mean that he would give them another position. I know I could be wrong with this assumption, but that is all I have to work with.

The scout is lining up his team. It just seems to me that we would want the scouts to be proactive. He is not buying votes, he is just saying if I become the PL you will be my APL. No threat, no bribe, sounds like good politics to me.


Is he promising the APL position to more than one scout?



Are you separating the other issues with this scout from this one?



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I attended a course once where the instructor showed how there were many, many different voting systems and a skilled leader could govern the outcome by choosing the voting method and then letting the group vote.


If you believe that you have two boys who collaborate and don't want that, the last thing you would want is a simple plurality. With that, a boy with two votes might win if every boy votes for himself. So you could use a ranked voting system where the boys vote for the one they want most, then second most, then third most, etc. Initially, the first place votes are counted. If someone wins a majority, fine. Otherwise, the person or persons getting the fewest votes are struck off the ballots where they were listed first and the second place votes on those ballots are now counted. This continues until someone has a majority.


Another way is a different type of ranked voting. The boys list the people they want in order. Say that the patrol has seven voters. The first place name on each ballot gets seven votes. The second place name gets six votes, etc. The boy with the most votes wins.


You also can have rounds of voting where you take one ballot and the nominee with the fewest votes is eliminated. Then there is a second round and again the nominee with the fewest votes is eliminated. This continues until there are two candidates and the one with a majority wins.


You might not want to mess around with election methods, but it does make the point that there are many, many ways to do an election.

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Make your speech to the boys so they fully understand that they have complete control on who will be their leader. They can elected a good leader, one that will be fair and help the patrol achieve its goals. Or they can elect a bad leader and a bully. Its totally up to them. Use a secret ballot too.

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I'm in the "Butt Out" Camp.

We adults never know what deals the Scouts are making. The difference here is that you heard what was said.

None of us in the forum know Billy. But I think that there are those of us who have seen Scouts that were not rising stars really shine when given a position of responsibility. Some Lads thrive on the extra attention and training that Patrol Leaders receive.

Many years ago we had a Lad who was a real tough nut. The kind of Lad that was always in hot water.At that time skinheads were in and this Lad had all the gear. I think he only joined the troop so that he could play in the District Five A Side Soccer competition. He was an outstanding soccer player.

Somehow, someway he got voted in as a Patrol Leader. He was great a natural born leader with a great imagination and sense of fun.

The great thing about Scouting is that no one is left sitting on the bench. That is true when it comes to leadership, we ought to try and give every lad the opportunity to lead.


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To a large degree I vote with Eamonn to butt out. However, I have seen an instance where a "not rising star" took a position of responsibility for advancements sake. He was lazy before he took the job, during and after. He did a horrible job. He now brags that he is glad it is over and he'll never do it again. He ages out at the end of June and stated that he wanted to stay with the troop as an ASM. The committee has discussed it and everyone has said that if he tries to register, the answer will be NO. He has been a challenge for years. We have 11 year olds in the troop that have more maturity than this boy.

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It isn't the committee's decision, it is a decision for the CO to make. The troop committee may make a suggestion to the CO via the IH or COR but the decision on who the leaders of the unit are rest with the charter organization.(This message has been edited by acco40)

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I think my post has been misunderstood.


I am not suggesting anyone should be removed from their position or the outcome of an election be changed.


I am suggesting the SM could possibly discuss, in general terms, the issues of proper ethics in campaigning and elections with the PLC and suggest they consider coming up with some guidelines for how to conduct a campaign. Another possibility would be to use an SM minute to discuss, again in a generic way, ethical decision making in a democratic forum.


No corrective or disciplinary actions are needed as far as I can tell. However, a bit of guidance on the proper way to conduct elections and campaigns seems to be in order.


One possibility would be to hold nominations and elections at two separate meetings. Ask that everyone refrain from campaigning (beyond perhaps letting others know they are interested in the possibility of seeking a position). Also, allow time before the election for a brief speech and some question and answer. This provides a formal process for campaigning that will help avoid future back alley campaigning.


I must admit I am biased in favor of open, public, formal style campaigns. I don't like back room deal making. Every election I have ever won was based purely on an out in the open campaign. I have never made a secret deal to get elected. Part of this may also be because I am much better at making speeches and such than I am at privately negotiating for someone's support.


Also I must point out a discrepancy between the original post and the way some are interpreting the post.


"Billy was telling him that if he voted for him for PL, he would make him his APL" - EagleInKY


"he is just saying if I become the PL you will be my APL" - dan


These are two different things. I consider the first to be a highly questionable method of obtaining votes not much removed from vote buying. The second is far more benign and is often part of the way leadership teams are created.


Let me try to explain myself more clearly. If I say, "Vote for me and I will make you my assistant", that statement atomically implies that the opposite is also true "don't vote for me and I won't make you my assistant". This is bad for three reasons. Number one it is attempting to obtain someones vote by offering some benefit to them, which is something that is not good, particularly if done secretly. Number two, it could influence someone to vote for someone else for personal gain rather than for the good of the patrol. Number three, it indicates that the person is selecting their assistant based not on who is most qualified or some other objective criteria, but rather on who likes them best or who is most easily bought, or some other such subjective criteria. I would say that second reason is the most troublesome.


Now, if I say, "If I am elected, I would like for you to be my assistant" that doesn't have the same meaning. In reality it may have a similar affect, but less directly so. I am simply offering you a position, without requiring you do anything to acquire that position. This is a case where a small change in wording changes weather or not it appears to be a perfectly innocent way of selecting possible members of a leadership team or a shady method of colluding to put mutual gain ahead of the good of the group.


You could say the difference is one is an offer with strings attached, while the other is an offer with no strings attached.(This message has been edited by Proud Eagle)

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ProudEagle summarized it very well. To me, it sounded like trading favors. Vote for me and I'll do this for you. I believe he knows that there are 3 members of his patrol that would never vote for him. He's trying to get the other 3 to go along with him, so he'll win 4-3.


I encourage an open forum in our election process as well. Boys express what positions they would like to fill. They are then nominated by their peers. The election is held a week later. The voting is done by secret ballot, and the final tally is kept a secret.


Dan asked, Are you separating the other issues with this scout from this one? How can I? His behavior is a fundamental part of who he is and how I interact with him. He continues to be disrespectful to his junior leaders and to the adults (although better, he is still a far cry from where he needs to be).


Ultimately, I'll butt out. But I will provide the usual coaching to the boys before an election. That is, they need to elect a leader who is qualifed to run their patrol. If they don't, they pay the price. Unfortunately, so does the rest of the troop, the SPL and the adult leaders. But that's part of the game, isn't it?


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So, if the scouts said I really want to be PL and I want you to be my Asst. thats okay? It the same thing, just said differently. I like people to be straight forward with we and not beat around the bush, which is what this scout did.



Everyone makes mistakes, do not hold the past against him, give him a chance with allot of coaching.

It seems like part of the problem may be the way the patrols where split up.

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