Coord 241: Referenda

Members of the MES will occasionally vote on a Referendum.  There are three types of Referenda:

  • A call for election
  • Changes to the MES Constitution
  • Changes to the MES Bylaws

Call For an Early Election

The first type of Referendum, a call for an early election. This happens when an issue arises that affects an officer and one or more members of the electorate proposes a referendum to begin a new election for that office.  This is handled by an electoral officer. The table of who to contact can be found on page 51 of the MES handbook.

Step one is talking to the officer whom the referendum concerns about the topic and discussed by the members of the constituency. Only if there are adequate good faith attempts at resolution before the Call for Election Referendum was submitted does the Referendum go forward. Good faith attempts at resolution include contacting the officer to attempt to resolve the issues.  Contacting the officer in question can be done by the member submitting the Call for Election or another member or officer. It is not required to include the name of the person submitting the call for new elections.

In a Call for an Early Election,  if more than half of the total votes are cast yes for a new election, the Elections Officer must run an election for the office within 30 days.  An officer who has had a term ended in this way may run for re-election if they would normally be allowed to do so under any other circumstances.

Changes to the MES Constitution or Bylaws

Changes to the MES Constitution or Bylaws requires a Referenda.  Members may request amendments to the club constitution by sending an email to amend@mindseyesociety.org with a subject that includes “constitution amendment.” The Board of Directors recommends copying the Ombudsman at ombudsman@mindseyesociety.org so that the office may observe the process.

It’s helpful first to discuss the topic with the necessary people before making any proposals. Issues that require legal or financial changes should be discussed with the BoD legal and financial team which can be reached by contacting bod@mindseyesociety.org. Coordinator changes should be discussed with coordinators. Officers are approachable. Don’t be afraid to talk to them. There is more of a chance of finding a solution to your proposal if multiple knowledgeable voices who have dealt with the issues previously are involved.

The amendment requires a number of things:

  • Detail the section to be modified by number and define the proposed changes.
  • An amendment should include the reason for the suggested change being proposed

Recommendations could be made regarding suitability or necessary alterations in the language.  This review process can take up to 30 days. The voting directors will then review the Referendum for structural and Bylaws concerns. This review may also take up to 30 days.

Once the reviews of the proposed amendment are completed, the member who submitted the Referendum and the Ombudsman will be notified by email of the status of the proposed amendment. If the proposed amendment passes review, it will be announced by the Board of Directors to the National Announce list and sent to the office of the National Coordinator to organize and run the Referendum within 30 days.  If there is to be a planned General Membership Vote within 60 days of the amendment announcement, it is acceptable to include this type of Referendum as part of that process.

Requests for a Referendum

The timeline for a Change to the Constitution or Bylaws referendum is:

  1. Proposal Submitted
  2. BoD Updates, legal and financial review- Up to 30 days.
  3. BoD Review – Up to 30 days
  4. Member who submitted is notified
  5. Amendment submitted to NC office
  6. NC office runs the Referendum within 30 days*
  7. If Referendum calls for an election, the discussion lasts up to two weeks
  8. Voting for the “Yes” or “No” question lasts up to two weeks
  9. Calculating votes can take up to one week.

*Unless there is a planned general membership vote within 60 days in which case the referendum can be included with that vote

In total, the referendum can take up to five months and one week.

The timeline for Early Elections is:

  1. The Election officer is contacted regarding the proposal
  2. Discussion with the officer in question occurs
  3. Vote for Referendum for Early Election is discussed- Up to two weeks
  4. Vote for Referendum for Early Election occurs – Up to 2 weeks
  5. If Referendum passes, voting for a new officer proceeds as normal

In total, the referendum can take up to one month, plus time for discussions.

All requests for a Referendum should meet the following requirements:

  • Present a clear yes or no choice
  • The referenda does not overturn an officer’s specific decision
  • Identifies the level that the Referendum effects
  • Indicates whether the author wishes to be known or anonymous
  • Has been submitted by a member of the electorate
  • Conforms to the Code of Conduct, Constitution, and all other Membership Handbook requirements.

If any of these requirements aren’t met in the proposed Referendum, the Election Officer will return it to the member that submitted it for revision.  If all of the requirements are met, then the Election Officer or Proctor will present the Referendum to the electorate.  The electorate will be given a review period that lasts no less than one week and no more than two weeks in order to review the Referendum.    The Referendum  must be distributed as widely as possible among all members eligible to vote.

If the Referendum is a call for an early election, the officer who currently holds that office must be given the opportunity to discuss the matter with the electorate.

If the Referenda is one where the electorate is comprised of elected officers who will cast a vote on behalf of their constituency, they must give everyone in their constituency the opportunity to take part in the review process.  This includes participating in debates and raising questions about the issue.

After the review period, the voting period begins. The Election Officer or Proctor must make an announcement that voting is now open and distribute this announcement as widely as possible to all members of the electorate.   The voting period will last at least one week and can last for up to two weeks.  The announcement of the voting period must include the Referendum being voted on, specific instructions for exactly how to vote and a deadline for when voting ends.

Referendum votes only have two choices, either yes or no.  A voter who chooses to abstain from voting has no effect on the outcome of the Referendum. Therefore the Referendum voting is decided by a simple majority voting system. After the voting period deadline has passed, the Election Officer and at least one Proctor must tabulate the votes independently and compare those results. This is to ensure accuracy.  Calculating the results must be completed no later than one week after the voting period ends.