Possible Voting Reform

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
Roger de Coverly
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Jan 17, 2017 9:06 am

Carl Hibbard wrote: I don't think Toxic will ever be happy.
If you advocate a policy and refuse to say what that policy involves, such an attitude is always going to get a short shrift. Other than that your plans may be slated, why the refusal to outline what they are?

Given that the previous attempt started by Sean Hewitt to make some progress got kicked into the long grass in the form of the Pearce review by amongst others the Manchester representative, many of the current voting membership may take any excuse to block all of the current proposals.

Robert Stern
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Robert Stern » Tue Jan 17, 2017 10:59 am

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Robert Stern wrote:The question of whether junior Direct Members should have voting rights is not addressed by the consultation paper
Elections for the posts of Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum Representatives are somewhere between infrequent and non-existent. But under the current constitution, do junior members, or their parents have a theoretical vote on the rare occasions when there's an election?
The Direct Members Bye-laws indicate that junior members do currently have a right to vote on electing a Direct Members' Representative.

Roger Lancaster
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Roger Lancaster » Tue Jan 17, 2017 1:53 pm

There seems to be a private war ongoing on this thread. I don't wish to seem discourteous to any of the parties involved but I rather suspect (admittedly, surmise on my part!) most people wish that they would conduct their battles elsewhere.

I'm grateful to Robert for clarifying the issue on juniors. In practice, this probably isn't too important because I don't see juniors rushing to vote (unless maybe they were galvanised into this through an issue arising which had a disproportionate impact on junior chess) but constitutionally one needs to be clear about the identity of the electorate. So, under OMOV, for example, a decision would be needed as to whether to disenfranchise juniors.

Mick Norris
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Mick Norris » Tue Jan 17, 2017 2:24 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Carl Hibbard wrote: I don't think Toxic will ever be happy.
If you advocate a policy and refuse to say what that policy involves, such an attitude is always going to get a short shrift. Other than that your plans may be slated, why the refusal to outline what they are?

Given that the previous attempt started by Sean Hewitt to make some progress got kicked into the long grass in the form of the Pearce review by amongst others the Manchester representative, many of the current voting membership may take any excuse to block all of the current proposals.
October 2013 AGM:
. Proposal by Sean Hewitt (Director) That the board investigate the viability with a view to bringing proposals before Council in April 2014 to allow Directors to be elected directly by individual members of the Federation.
The problem the MCF rep had was that he considered:
a. It a mistake to consider direct election of Directors by individual members without at the same time considering the wider issue of how voting power should be allocated between individual members and affiliated organisations.
b. The wording “investigate the viability” was too narrow. It would be very easy to conclude that direct election was technically feasible without considering whether it was desirable.

Sean Hewitt accepted his proposed amended wording, which was roughly as follows: “That the board consider the appropriate balance of decision making power and authority between individual members and affiliated organisations, and report back to Council within 24 months.”

This was passed overwhelmingly

The Pearce report didn't produce what was hoped, so we are still talking about it after the 2 year deadline has closed
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

Angus French
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Angus French » Tue Jan 17, 2017 2:36 pm

What Mick says above is entirely accurate.

benedgell
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by benedgell » Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:56 am

Angus French wrote:
benedgell wrote:Can't say I'm in favour of any of the options presented.
Ben, can you say more about how you feel? And do you think there is a need for reform? I'm mindful that you represent or act as a proxy for a large number of Member Organisations at Council meetings.
I don't think members want OMOV, or really want any change at all.

Of the options presented I'm largely inclined to agree with the arguments against all 3.

I would also point out that at present the members' reps has a vacancy at Bronze level, and I have proxied for one of the Gold Members' reps for a number of meetings in a row now.

The main issues with voting at the moment as I see it are:

Poor representation by some ECF reps for leagues/ counties etc, where the reps either don't take account of the wishes of the people they represent, or don't actively represent their group. In either of those instances the blame lies as much with the people who vote them back in each year at AGMs as the representatives themselves.

Votes for congresses. I agree that organisers should have some influence at council, but a lot of the time these votes do come down to the whims of an individual, who may or may not take into account the opinions of the entrants to the congress. I would imagine its impossible to know, as congress organisers don't report to anyone in this respect. Also, is it fair that the Atherton Rapidplay (and I'm just using them as an example because they are top of the voting list for congresses) has the same number of votes as Sussex, the NCCU, or WECU?

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:55 pm

benedgell wrote: I don't think members want OMOV, or really want any change at all.
There's a sufficiently vocal minority who consider the ECF an organisation that takes their money as a condition of playing graded or rated chess but gives them little effective say in who governs or runs the organisation, who decides what to spend where and who sets the rules governing play in the UK.

Widening the issue, should there not be a discussion about what is voted on as well as who is doing the voting? I don't think that the ECF should have been allowed to reduce the British Championships to 9 rounds just because Malcolm thinks it's a good idea. Rather the change should have been ratified by one of the Council meetings. The same with the proposed changes in Qualification Regulations. That at least has been opened up to discussion rather than a Board diktat, but will those Congresses losing their award of qualification places being granted the chance to vote their approval of the change?
benedgell wrote: Also, is it fair that the Atherton Rapidplay (and I'm just using them as an example because they are top of the voting list for congresses) has the same number of votes as Sussex, the NCCU, or WECU?
It's not being proposed, but you could have a reform to the effect that "smaller" Congresses or Leagues lost their right to direct representation. Instead there's a Representative or Representatives speaking or voting on their behalf.

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Alex Holowczak » Thu Jan 19, 2017 1:26 pm

Isn't
benedgell wrote:Poor representation by some ECF reps for leagues/ counties etc, where the reps either don't take account of the wishes of the people they represent, or don't actively represent their group.
The same as
benedgell wrote:a lot of the time these votes do come down to the whims of an individual, who may or may not take into account the opinions of the entrants to the congress.
?

If so, why does that makes votes for congresses a problem in a way that votes for leagues and counties isn't?

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Jan 19, 2017 1:32 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote: If so, why does that makes votes for congresses a problem in a way that votes for leagues and counties isn't?
If individuals have an alternative candidate and the necessary support, they can replace a league or county representative because the posts are re-elected or re-appointed on a regular basis. No such possibility would exist for Congress representatives.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Fri Jan 20, 2017 11:14 am

I've now finally had a chance to digest the paper in detail and have communicated my views via the official email address, as well as to my direct membership representative.

My main view, which I kept coming back to, is that however much weight the views of direct members carry in Council, it should be representative and members should be balloted with their votes cast accordingly. It may be that the votes have to be split between membership category (as they are now) or by county so that a bronze/ gold or North/ South difference is taken into account but the process should be transparent and accountable. While I have a lot of respect for my direct representatives; under the current rules no direct representative is obliged to vote in any specific way. For that reason I'm not in favour of increasing the number of direct membership representatives as I feel it could lead to individuals standing in order to gain influence within the ECF while claiming that they are representing members.

So my personal preference is to reject option 2 while either adopting option 1 or 3. As far as option 1 is concerned I'm not in favour of OMOV for general resolutions but I see no reason why OMOV shouldn't be used to elect the board, particularly as we will need some form of OMOV to elect direct representatives anyway and three year terms now mean there are less elections.

Outside of the proposals, I suggested that if Council continues with increased direct membership representation (the most likely scenario) there could be a policy of different interest groups not voting on matters that do not effect them. There is a precedent here; I recall Mike Gunn asking congress vote holders not to vote on a proposal concerning league grading eligibility.
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Michael Farthing
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Michael Farthing » Fri Jan 20, 2017 12:10 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:I've now finally had a chance to digest the paper in detail and have communicated my views via the official email address, as well as to my direct membership representative.
Oh. It hasn't arrived :-(

My main view, which I kept coming back to, is that however much weight the views of direct members carry in Council, it should be representative and members should be balloted with their votes cast accordingly. It may be that the votes have to be split between membership category (as they are now) or by county so that a bronze/ gold or North/ South difference is taken into account but the process should be transparent and accountable. While I have a lot of respect for my direct representatives; under the current rules no direct representative is obliged to vote in any specific way. For that reason I'm not in favour of increasing the number of direct membership representatives as I feel it could lead to individuals standing in order to gain influence within the ECF while claiming that they are representing members.

So my personal preference is to reject option 2 while either adopting option 1 or 3. As far as option 1 is concerned I'm not in favour of OMOV for general resolutions but I see no reason why OMOV shouldn't be used to elect the board, particularly as we will need some form of OMOV to elect direct representatives anyway and three year terms now mean there are less elections.

Outside of the proposals, I suggested that if Council continues with increased direct membership representation (the most likely scenario) there could be a policy of different interest groups not voting on matters that do not effect them. There is a precedent here; I recall Mike Gunn asking congress vote holders not to vote on a proposal concerning league grading eligibility.
I largely agree with Andrew but a big concern must be the level of participation that can be expected from the direct membership. It is simply not going to happen that we shall get views from any significant number of members on most issues that come before Council. To take an example that comes (randomly) to mind a motion was presented in April 2016 that the Board should progress a quality assurance programme (which failed, because the item agenda was not reached). Silver members were invited to comment to me as part of my consultation and I received 13 comments from a membership of about 2000 and a total response of just over 100. 13 was quite a big response compared with some other items, but I don't think it sufficient to constitute a sensible mandate. At these numbers a very simple campaign to encourage supporters of a view to write in could easily sway matters and, further, if the result is 7-6 does that give any clear guidance? For that reason I do regard myself as a representative with the right to use my judgement and also to change my vote on the basis of extra information at the meeting. Even on the rather more emotive question of membership fee levels which in October attracted, (as I recall) about 50 responses, there was a wide spread of views from 'no increase' to 'yes, bring it on' and my attempt to divide this into a 'yes/no' division resulted in roughly parity. Indeed, on one issue in October John and I voted differently, reflecting a split view in the silver membership. I have always made it clear that I would personally feel bound by a strong expression of opinion and would vote accordingly. Oddly, the quality assurance did provide such a situation with voting 12:1 against!

In practical terms, it might not make a lot of difference anyway as many respondents often add something like 'on other issues I'm happy for you to decide as you think best'.

I also can't quite agree with Andrew about removing delegates rights to vote on issues that don't concern them. Inviting delegates to consider this possibility I think is fine, and many delegates I'm sure simply do not vote if they feel it is outside their area of interest, but any attempt to formalise this into a binding rule would have terrible problems. Whether a matter is solely 'a league issue' is not necessarily clear and we then have the thorny problem of who decides. For example, let us take the very hypothetical case of the ECF suggesting a dress regulation of 'no headwear' at congresses (and I seem to recall this has was mooted by FIDE at one point, though I may be wrong). I think a league representative might well consider this an intrusive step by the ECF that could set a precedent that might in the future affect leagues. Fees made by leagues is also not just a league issue because it affects the balance betwen leagues and congresses. Also, a county rep might be aware that his/her county actually has congresses that it directly supports (Lancashire certainly regards Blackpool as a Lancashire event and Blackpool reports back to Lancashire at the AGM). Timetabling of county championship matches is not just a county issue: it directly impacts on congress attendance. (Though admittedly I think county captains would say it is more likely that the county match is sacrificed for the congress).

Brian Towers
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Brian Towers » Fri Jan 20, 2017 1:25 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:My main view, which I kept coming back to, is that however much weight the views of direct members carry in Council, it should be representative and members should be balloted with their votes cast accordingly. It may be that the votes have to be split between membership category (as they are now) or by county so that a bronze/ gold or North/ South difference is taken into account but the process should be transparent and accountable.
I'm curious about this principle and how it would work.

I'm a silver member, last year played in congresses A, B and C and in leagues X, Y and Z in Durham and Northumberland Counties in the NCCU.

Will I, should I, be balloted just the once for my silver membership? 10 times to reflect all my participation and membership? or some number in between?
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Fri Jan 20, 2017 1:30 pm

Michael Farthing wrote: Oh. It hasn't arrived :-(
I only sent it quite late last night so it may not have arrived yet.
... a big concern must be the level of participation that can be expected from the direct membership. It is simply not going to happen that we shall get views from any significant number of members on most issues that come before Council.
A counter argument is that direct members aren't particularly motivated to contact an individual who can only cast one vote on their behalf. If their view carried more weight within council or they had a vote themselves they might take more interest. It's something of a Catch 22 situation; they can't get more influence until they show more interest and they might not show more interest until they get more influence. It is a difficult one. When I try to engage Yorkshire players on ECF matters (with the message, `These are your votes, tell us what you think` or something along those lines) I very rarely get anything back.
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Brian Valentine
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Brian Valentine » Fri Jan 20, 2017 2:53 pm

Do we need to consider the rules on proxies?

it does seem that the unfettered right to proxy voting under all the options gives the non participating electorate the opportunity to deliver the same potential problems with the current system.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Jan 20, 2017 3:01 pm

Brian Valentine wrote: it does seem that the unfettered right to proxy voting under all the options gives the non participating electorate the opportunity to deliver the same potential problems with the current system.
I believe it to be one of the constraints, that as an incorporated body, a Company limited by Guarantee, the ECF is very limited on the extent to which, if at all, it can outlaw proxies. If you had direct elections, you aren't going to get 10,000 to turn up in person, so contested votes at an AGM conducted on those lines is going to be a battle of the proxies.

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