Possible Voting Reform

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
Angus French
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Angus French » Fri Jan 13, 2017 8:19 pm

IM Jack Rudd wrote:Comment on option 2: the proposed limit of six votes is unnecessary. Let people vote for as many people as they wish.
The suggested Option 2 "list system" is also suggested for Option 3 and I think Michael Farthing made a good point on that.
Michael Farthing wrote: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.

Robert Stern
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Robert Stern » Sat Jan 14, 2017 8:51 am

Just to clarify on two points that have been raised in posts:

1. It is not the case that just one option is favoured by the board; the board very clearly concludes that it supports each of option 2 and option 3;

2. Option 1 is not scuppered by problems relating to the legalities of companies limited by guarantee. There are a number of ways in which votes can be given to the paying members, whether by them becoming "proper" company law members or by adopting a device such as amending the articles such that one company law member (a "voting trustee") is granted, say, 15,000 votes and the voting trustee only exercises each of its votes to the extent that it has been directed to do so by a paying member.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sat Jan 14, 2017 9:09 am

Robert Stern wrote: Option 1 is not scuppered by problems relating to the legalities of companies limited by guarantee.
So the "white form" insistence was always nonsense. We were given the impression implementation (signing of "white forms") of this particular aspect of British Company Law was a FIDE requirement and the ECF had a major row with one of its component parts, the NCCU because of it. No-one thought to investigate whether this really was an absolute FIDE requirement or for that matter a Company Law requirement.

The historic context is that numerous players in the North were prepared to pay the ECF £10 a year, but weren't prepared or weren't asked to sign pieces of paper. As a consequence, the non-signatories were supposedly barred from participating in FIDE rated events.

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Michael Farthing
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Michael Farthing » Sat Jan 14, 2017 10:39 am

But it's history, Roger...
It' not the fault of the current board.
There's nothing can be done about it..
Those responsible, (who were probably acting within their understanding of the law, even if inaccurately), are long departed.
What is this continued crying about it meant to achieve?

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Paolo Casaschi
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Paolo Casaschi » Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:02 pm

Michael Farthing wrote: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.
From the statement above it's not clear to me whether your proposal and your vote at the council meetings are going to be based on your own preference or on the wants of the direct members you represent. How do you intend to make sure the opinions of direct members are taken into account?

For the sake of clarity, I have no reason to doubt in any way your honest intention to act in the best interest of the direct members you represent. However, if even direct member representatives at council do not support a significant reform, why is this even on the agenda for discussion? Who wants such a radical change to happen?

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:15 pm

Michael Farthing wrote: Those responsible, (who were probably acting within their understanding of the law, even if inaccurately), are long departed.
Are you quite sure about that? ECF Directors may come and go, but some of the voting membership at ECF Council are extremely long serving.

Setting out the constraints, you can have indirect systems of voting, electoral colleges or the equivalent. What you cannot have is a system which disallows proxies. If the ECF went for a hybrid solution, option (iii) or equivalent, they could also have it that counties and leagues were indirectly represented, so that they voted for a representative to attend rather than have the right to attend and vote themselves. In its way, that similar to the current system in practice where leagues, counties and Congresses don't always attend in their right, but appoint a collective proxy.

Unincorporated bodies such as leagues and county associations not infrequently have voting rules which restrict the available votes at meetings to those present. That isn't allowed in a CLG as far as I am aware.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:20 pm

Paolo Casaschi wrote:Who wants such a radical change to happen?
You may recall that a previous Strategic Planning Officer was very enthusiastic about this on the ECF's own forum, although when pressed he declined to set out the practical options.

There was also a certain dissatisfaction with the conclusion of the Pearce Report that no change to voting rights was necessary.

The current system is the ECF's option (iii) in the variant that the voting rights of Direct Member Representatives are as minimal as possible.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:34 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote: You may recall that a previous Strategic Planning Officer was very enthusiastic about this on the ECF's own forum, although when pressed he declined to set out the practical options.
A slight pedants note but the individual in question held the title of `Strategy Adviser` rather than Strategic Planning Officer.
Controller - Yorkshire League
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Michael Farthing
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Michael Farthing » Sat Jan 14, 2017 1:58 pm

Paolo Casaschi wrote:
Michael Farthing wrote: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.
From the statement above it's not clear to me whether your proposal and your vote at the council meetings are going to be based on your own preference or on the wants of the direct members you represent. How do you intend to make sure the opinions of direct members are taken into account?

For the sake of clarity, I have no reason to doubt in any way your honest intention to act in the best interest of the direct members you represent. However, if even direct member representatives at council do not support a significant reform, why is this even on the agenda for discussion? Who wants such a radical change to happen?
You know perfectly well Paolo that we shall send out a consultation document to silver members that, as always, will set out our views and ask for responses. We shall take into account those responses, using our best judgement as to what to do in the light of those responses. Generally we vote to follow any clear mandate given, but often no clear mandate comes back and then we have to make our own judgements. You, Paolo, are amongst those who send us a response, and I greatly appreciate that, but sadly most do not. After Council we will report back what responses we received and how and why we voted as we did.

My very big concern at the moment is that the mechanisms proposed will not provide genuine representation for direct members because the voting structure is such as to attract individuals with a strong personal agenda and without a commitment to consultation. Such consultation is also likely to be made harder in that there will be 10 or 15 individuals who would each need to consult with the entire membership, as there is no plan for any 'constituency' principle. Further, the first past the post structure is likely to result in minority views not getting any representation. These are fears and concerns that I have at the present as I see things. There are many other consideratons when viewing these proposals and I have thought long and hard about them. As I have repeatedly said, I am unhappy with most solutions that have come forward - that includes not only ideas of other people but also my own ideas. I am open to persuasion and, as I have said elsewhere, I am perfectly prepared to openly and flagrantly make a 'U' turn without shame or apology, though as I have not given a firm commitment to any particular option I'm not sure that a U tun is possible. But surely it is right that I should air doubts if I have them?

I have every hope and expectation that direct member reps votes will go to a reform package. We want that package to be good for the membership and to increase its ability to influence. We also want the ECF to continue to function effectively. Honest and critical discussion on this forum might jut possibly help us to secure a better set of proposals. Lets all work at it.

Roger Lancaster
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Roger Lancaster » Sat Jan 14, 2017 8:56 pm

So as to clarify my thinking, perhaps someone could answer the following simple question. Are juniors also direct members?

Paul Cooksey
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Paul Cooksey » Sun Jan 15, 2017 8:25 am

I am happy to see the ECF trying to reform. The document does show the exercise is being taken seriously. But I do not like the framing of the issues in the consultation document.

MIchael Flatt’s criticism does seem to me logical. This is much closer to a position paper recommending increased direct member representation in the Council than it is a consultation document. But I have sympathy with Governance Committee. The fact the ECF Council meets only twice a year must create huge pressure to try to move through as many steps of the process at once as possible. However it puts us members in a difficult position. It seems we are forced to decide what are the greater and lesser evils rather than being involved in trying to find the best solution.

Numbering the options makes sense to me, although I think there are actually five options here not three:
  • Option 0 - running the ECF by plebiscite. This is dismissed in paragraph 14, but I think this rather than option 1 is typically what the OMOV supporters were proposing, as I remember it.

    Option 1 - direct election of the Board by the members (I am going to describe the direct members a members and the real members a organisations, because I find it less confusing)

    Option 2 - direct election of the Council by the members

    Option 3 - increase member representation in the Council

    Option 4 - no change
Personally I like options 1 and 2 best. I have made suggestions on how these could be achieved in the past. But for me it is a matter of common sense that if either of these options was preferred it would mean a change to the structure of the Board or the Council respectively, to address the cons. Unfortunately the paper implicitly rules this out - by not considering for option 1 and for option 2 in paragraph 7.2 (ii). So I think these options 1 and 2 have been hamstrung.

My main problem with option 3 is stated fairly in paper, that it does not go far enough in representing members interests. When looking at the balance between members and organisations, it is necessary to look at the whole ECF, not just the Council. But if the choice is between this and the status quo - as seems likely - I would have to take a small improvement rather than no improvement at all.

As a person who would like reform to go further than seems likely, paragraph 14 (iv) is interesting. Many Council votes are rotten boroughs, and this is a significant con of option 3 rather than a separate point in my opinion. I guess putting it out of scope was considered politically necessary. But if we go for option 3, it is something I would want to see raised separately.

I would have much prefered Council to have been asked the question which of these options should be investigated further, rather than jumping straight to the vote. I would have liked us to have had the chance to discuss here how to make options 1 and 2 work, but it seems it is already too late. So I suppose I have to support option 3, and hope to continue the discussion about what can be done to improve it.

IanCalvert
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by IanCalvert » Mon Jan 16, 2017 10:25 am

IMHO, I hope that some form of Option 2 or Option 3 is approved in October with more influence/ power to Direct Members.

However given the imperfections of governance, even on this side of the Atlantic, I do hope there will to a formal quinquennial review in 2023 (say) to agree improvements to the 2018 system and that this is written into the 2018 proposal at a later stage.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Mon Jan 16, 2017 10:48 am

"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."

A good point. I recall a Surrey meeting, where the ECF Delegate wanted to discuss where to direct Surrey votes (which is fine), but two people were standing for Finance Director (or whatever it's called). I knew both of them and though either would do a great job. The Surrey delegate then painted one of the people standing as more saintly than Mother Theresa and the other as more evil than all the evil people in history combined. I protested and said this was unfair, both candidates were very good, and presumably our delegate had had an argument with one of them (which turned out to be true). The Chairman asked for other opinions - silence. Of course nobody else had any idea who the people were and probably had no idea what ECF did. So the delegate was told to do what he liked. Doubtless this would be repeated in other parts of the country.

However, many of the people there were members of the ECF, so giving them a vote would be pointless in many cases.

Finding a sensible system is very difficult. The "activists" may have their own agendas, but they are actually doing things...

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Michael Farthing
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by Michael Farthing » Mon Jan 16, 2017 12:23 pm

Exactly, Kevin. And it is very frustrating to hear the strident, principled calls for OMOV and when the individuals calling for it are asked for firm proposals on implementation there is a sudden silence from them! Indeed, finding a sensible system is very difficult so the more (constructive) contributions the better.

benedgell
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Re: Possible Voting Reform

Post by benedgell » Mon Jan 16, 2017 12:35 pm

Can't say I'm in favour of any of the options presented.

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