Possible Voting Reform

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
John Reyes
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Possible Voting Reform

Post by John Reyes » Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:23 pm

The Board has issued a consultation paper entitled ‘Possible Voting Reform’, which sets out a number of different proposals for constitutional reform of Council designed to give greater influence to Direct Members (the paying membership of the ECF). The consultation paper is below
It is intended that the proposals be discussed at April’s Finance Council and that, if any of the proposals is approved in principle detailed implementation be voted on at the AGM in October. There is a consultation period until 12th March 2017 and anyone who wishes to express an opinion in relation to the proposals is invited to do so by email to votingreform@englishchess.org.uk

the paper is here

http://www.englishchess.org.uk/wp-conte ... 277_29.pdf

What are people Views?

John Reyes
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Any postings on here represent my personal views only

Mick Norris
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Mick Norris » Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:58 pm

John

Thanks for posting this

Hopefully, people will read the document and take time to think before posting
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

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Paolo Casaschi
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Paolo Casaschi » Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:26 pm

For what my personal opinion is worth, both option 1 and option 2 would be an improvement.
On second thought there might be a way to make option 3, or even the status quo, completely acceptable.
The main issue with the current ECF governance model is that direct member have no direct representation while at the same time being asked to provide directly the bulk of the ECF funding. At the same time, the real ECF members (organizations, congresses, leagues and whatnot) have representation but do not contribute directly as much as the direct members. This disconnect is the fundamental issue.

If it's not possible to fix the disconnect by moving representation and control to the direct members, an equally acceptable option to me would be to keep the status quo with council, but at the same time scrapping direct members fees completely and for the ECF to collect membership fees from organizations, congresses, leagues and whatnot. Of course they will recoup those fees from their own members, but this would clearly match he supposed chain of representation. Also, different organizations might decide to split their dues to the ECF in different ways. A side effect advantage would be that ultimately players would be charged proportionally to their involvement in the game while today a bronze member playing few games in a single league would pay the same as a bronze member playing in five different leagues.
Last edited by Paolo Casaschi on Tue Jan 17, 2017 8:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

Mike Truran
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Mike Truran » Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:55 pm

What about asking also the ECF members themselves to express an opinion on the matter, before the ECF council is deciding their own future?
An email will hopefully be going out to all ECF members next week drawing their attention to the report and asking for comments.

Michael Flatt
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Michael Flatt » Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:00 pm

It does seem strange to present three different options with the ECF Board already strongly expressing a view as to what they consider acceptable and unacceptable.

Ideally, things should be done more rationally: Appoint a panel or commission under a suitable chairman to establish some principles that might help to determine exactly what problem the Board is trying to solve and how best to represent each of the different interest groups.

Isn't it normal to do the consultation and research in advance of outlining potential solutions?

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Paolo Casaschi
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Paolo Casaschi » Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:08 pm

Mike Truran wrote:
What about asking also the ECF members themselves to express an opinion on the matter, before the ECF council is deciding their own future?
An email will hopefully be going out to all ECF members next week drawing their attention to the report and asking for comments.
That's a good initiative, but don't you think forcing ECF members to express an opinion (or their total lack of interest in the topic) would provide the ECF board a much better view on our collective opinion and a stronger authority to make a final decision, putting the issue to bed once for all?

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:15 pm

I haven't had a chance to digest the paper yet so can make no detailed comment on the content until I have. However at one point it looked as if voting reform and, in particular, the possibility of OMOV had been kicked into the long grass. Now it is back on the agenda when nobody really expected it. That must be cause for celebration.
Paolo Casaschi wrote:I wonder what are the chances of success when essentially the ECF council will have to vote about dismantling itself or significantly diluting its grip on the ECF.

What about asking also the ECF members themselves to express an opinion on the matter, before the ECF council is deciding their own future?
...;

Looking at the wording of the document, I find amusing the criticism that granting direct members voting rights risks allowing an "activist minority to exercise an undue amount of control". You might as well say this is what we have today: an non-elected minority of people exercising complete control over the ECF.
I've always been slightly ambivalent about the council system but comments like this swing me around to defending it, in particular the congress bloc that consists of people who give up so much of their time to make chess happen for people like me. Why anybody should feel that these individuals should act contrary to the best interests of chess in this country has always been beyond me. The league bloc has its rotten boroughs and entrenched individuals but representatives here are invariably elected and thus can be challenged and replaced. The fact that nobody bothers to do so within leagues and county associations is a hardly a failing of the council system.
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Michael Farthing
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Michael Farthing » Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:20 pm

Michael Flatt wrote:It does seem strange to present three different options with the ECF Board already strongly expressing a view as to what they consider acceptable and unacceptable.

Ideally, things should be done more rationally: Appoint a panel or commission under a suitable chairman to establish some principles that might help to determine exactly what problem the Board is trying to solve and how best to represent each of the different interest groups.

Isn't it normal to do the consultation and research in advance of outlining potential solutions?
Such a committee has been appointed. It was the Governance Committee.
That committee has examined the principles and the various strands of thought about what is desirable.
Consultation has taken place and is continuing.

However, this is of course not satisfactory. The mechanism chosen has not the formal backing of Council, so it is essential that instead of the proposals being brought forward a proper committee should be elected by Council to consult and bring forward a new set of proposals in the light of their discussions and consultations. The exact make up of such a committee is of course crucial if a fair, balanced, effective and affordable solution is to emerge and it is particular crucial that the committee selected should represent all stakeholders (any proposal must always include the word stakeholder). This is something that must be sorted before Council is asked to select the new committee and so it is clear that a preliminary matter must be to appoint a committee to deterime how the committee is to be determined. This could be the Governance Committee, or perhaps the Board, but my feeling is that these bodies are too small and unrepresentative for such a task and that the committee to determine the committee to bring forward the proposals for Council reform needs to be selected at Council following an opportunity for all stakeholders (bonus point - got it in twice) to express their views through an initial consultation exercise...

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Paolo Casaschi
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Paolo Casaschi » Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:34 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:I've always been slightly ambivalent about the council system but comments like this swing me around to defending it, in particular the congress bloc that consists of people who give up so much of their time to make chess happen for people like me. Why anybody should feel that these individuals should act contrary to the best interests of chess in this country has always been beyond me.
At the same time, assuming everyone acting in good faith, why would be such a bad idea to give direct members more influence on the ECF?
Ultimately, regardless of the chosen governance model, I would expect more or less the same group of volunteers still running the ECF. However, I think it could make a positive difference if those people are explicitly accountable to the members that are asked to finance the whole organization.

Michael Flatt
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Michael Flatt » Fri Jan 13, 2017 4:40 pm

Michael Farthing wrote: Such a committee has been appointed. It was the Governance Committee.
That committee has examined the principles and the various strands of thought about what is desirable.
Consultation has taken place and is continuing.

However, this is of course not satisfactory. The mechanism chosen has not the formal backing of Council, so it is essential that instead of the proposals being brought forward a proper committee should be elected by Council to consult and bring forward a new set of proposals in the light of their discussions and consultations. The exact make up of such a committee is of course crucial if a fair, balanced, effective and affordable solution is to emerge and it is particular crucial that the committee selected should represent all stakeholders (any proposal must always include the word stakeholder). This is something that must be sorted before Council is asked to select the new committee and so it is clear that a preliminary matter must be to appoint a committee to deterime how the committee is to be determined. This could be the Governance Committee, or perhaps the Board, but my feeling is that these bodies are too small and unrepresentative for such a task and that the committee to determine the committee to bring forward the proposals for Council reform needs to be selected at Council following an opportunity for all stakeholders (bonus point - got it in twice) to express their views through an initial consultation exercise...
I don't have any difficulty with the ECF Board putting proposals to Council at the Finance meeting or AGM.
Council will vote and the Board will get an answer.

Having already outlined three solutions, with one heavily favoured by the Board, how meaningful is 'consultation' at this late stage?

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Michael Farthing
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Michael Farthing » Fri Jan 13, 2017 5:10 pm

Michael Flatt wrote:
I don't have any difficulty with the ECF Board putting proposals to Council at the Finance meeting or AGM.
Council will vote and the Board will get an answer.

Having already outlined three solutions, with one heavily favoured by the Board, how meaningful is 'consultation' at this late stage?
Well, we shall see, though why January is a late stage for a meeting in April that will make recommendations about what to do in October puzzles me.

Consultation has already happened with individuals who have shown a particular interest in the issues and if this consultation was only window dressing then the very long personal telephone call to me at least suggests that the committee was determined to make its window dressinng look very serious. Further, if comments are made theen it would be foolish not to consider them: getting a 75% vote for an option is going to take some doing and appearing not to listen is not going to help achieve the target.

Further consultation might yet alter the structure of one or all of the proposals and I have certainly the intention of making a reasoned submission with suggestions for some alterations. There are attractions and problems with all three options though my own preference, perhaps surprisingly given that I am direct member representative, is to the non-parity version of option 3 with the intention that the ratio be reviewed after, maybe, 3 years. However, I have criticisms of even this option, as, I suspect, does everyone who has given proper, serious consideration to the many issues involved. The more thought given to the matter the harder it is to find a satisfactory answer.

At present my thinking is that the plan to have a first ten past the post result with everyone having lots of votes each is taking the worst features of UK elections. 10 candidates from the Youth Chess Alliance and 10 candidates from the Chess for Seniors Movement with winner takes all!! (well 100 out of 400 Council votes). I really do think there is a danger of 'slates' standing for these positions and garnering undue influence.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Jan 13, 2017 5:38 pm

Michael Farthing wrote: Further consultation might yet alter the structure of one or all of the proposals
If one were to summarise the three options, then the proposals are

(i) sweep away the existing voting structures and replace them with direct elections for directors and (limited) direct voting on motions.

(ii) modify the existing representation structure so as to have direct elections for voting attendees.

(iii) have a hybrid of retaining the existing voting representation, but giving many more votes to directly elected (or perhaps directly appointed) attendees.

Arguably the current structure is a special case of (iii) with the directly elected/appointed representatives given negligible voting rights.

At the possible cost of reigniting past issues, what is the position regarding guarantors? The ECF hasn't greatly changed its constitutional structure since it was convinced that to be a member of the ECF meant that you also had to be a guarantor and sign a form. Indirectly the current structure gives members a vote and presumably it's a requirement of UK Company Law that anyone or anything who is a guarantor member also has to have a vote. If that''s correct, does it rule out (i) as all the organisations forming the voting membership also had to be white form signatories.

The ECF is a Company limited by Guarantee, which places some constraints on its constitutional structures and voting procedures. Hopefully the Governance Committee will be able to brief in an unbiased way what background legal issues those voting on the issues need to know.

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Michael Farthing
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Michael Farthing » Fri Jan 13, 2017 5:44 pm

I do not think the difficulties Roger mentions are insurmountable, but nevertheless this is a matter that does need thorough (factual) investigation. Hopefully I am wrong, but I fear that may not have been adequately done.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Jan 13, 2017 6:00 pm

Michael Farthing wrote:I do not think the difficulties Roger mentions are insurmountable, but nevertheless this is a matter that does need thorough (factual) investigation.
Neither do I and previous ECF Boards were very possibly being economical with the truth when they were absolutely convinced that you needed to sign a physical form to become a Guarantor member of the ECF. It does however remain an issue as to who are the Guarantor members under various structures and what has to be done to document this status. It's probably always been a "never happens in practice" issue as to whether anyone tries to round up all the £ 1 guarantees when a CLG (Company limited by Guarantee) goes into liquidation but to the extent that any regulator supervises the ECF, what do they require. It was more of a characteristic of the Ehr era, but to the extent to which the ECF signs up to various (voluntary) governance rules, what constraints do these impose? One of these seemed to be a two tier structure, where the membership would vote for non-executive board who appointed directors and managers to actually run the organisation. That strikes me as a neat way to ensure that those affected by the decisions of a governing body have no say in making those decisions.

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Fri Jan 13, 2017 6:18 pm

Comment on option 2: the proposed limit of six votes is unnecessary. Let people vote for as many people as they wish.

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