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Gina Persichini's picture

Online Voting

Recent activity has me wondering about online voting.  Let's say that ALA needs Council to make a decision on something in short order. It doesn't have to be live (real time) but does need a decision within a few days. A simple yea/nay vote that indicates the councilor casting the vote and provides options for abstentions.

In the past, such actions were taken by email, resulting in someone (the person tabulating the results) getting 150+ emails. And then there are those participating in the voting who didn't see the option to respond to an individual in time, and so all 150+ people were inundated with yea/nay votes.

Is it possible to accomplish this task of voting using ALA Connect's polling option?

At first look, I think it may not be as the poll doesn't have the option of entering the name of the user who is casting the vote.  Though, I'm uncertain if the system is collecting that behind the scenese. I didn't look.

Other options:

1. ALA staff, using the fabulous Drupal software create an online form for such voting. The address of said form being distributed only to individuals with the ability/right to vote on the matter.

2. Utilize a tool like SurveyMonkey or another online survey tool to create the poll. Again, distributing the address of the poll to only those individuals with the right to vote on the matter.

Is it possible that this could be a relatively simple and low-cost manner in which to introduce online voting for certain circumstances to the operations of ALA Council?  It would be a demonstration of Council's comittment to move toward electronic member participation.

And, not the least of the benefits, it would eliminate 100+ emails for 100+ individuals with accounts on 100+ servers all over the U.S resulting in 100+ happier system administrators concerned about valuable server space.

Just some random thoughts for Council and members to ponder.

JoAnne Kempf's picture

ALA Connect does provide the option of voting on-line and you would see the name of the individual casting the vote.  We had discussed using Connect for the current voting issue; however, we weren't certain that all Councilors were familiar enough/comfortable with using Connect yet, and given the urgency of this vote, we opted to just do it via the listserv.  So far 80+ councilors have voted and the vote is unanimous in favor. 

Even though we're still 2 months away from Annual, we needed this much lead time in order to order the plaque; thus, the urgency of the matter. 

JoAnne Kempf

Director, Office of ALA Governance

Aaron Dobbs's picture

Hi Joanne,

I thnk Gina was more raisingCouncil's awareness of this ALAConnect functionality than calling you guys to task for not using it.

I'm seeing ALAConnect more and more as a way to get some discussion going on upcoming Council deliberations.

Note that the poll I made is ALA Council group only - that functionality is working fine :)

We could hold forum-style discussions here in the weeks leadig up to Annual or Midwinter which would allow the participants time to think, mull, and thoughtuflly respond (with typos and odd format changes just for fun)

-Aaron
:-)'

"Always remember everyone is working to make the organization better in their own way."
-Eli Mina, ALA Parliamentarian

Karen Muller's picture

This is a test to see if non-Councilors can post ... and perhaps to *this* discussion, as it appears to be open, but not others?

 

 

-- Karen Muller, MLS, Life Member

Aaron Dobbs's picture

Hi Karen,

I believe the original discussion point was posted as "public," so anyone can comment on it.

Can you see the Poll I created in the ALA Council group the other day? (I think I did not make it public)

-Aaron
:-)'

"Always remember everyone is working to make the organization better in their own way."
-Eli Mina, ALA Parliamentarian

Karen Muller's picture

Nope ... this and the two documents posted as of today are all I can see .... which is good.  K

-- Karen Muller, MLS, Life Member

Gina Persichini's picture

I don't have a problem with the current action going on.  I understand the need for a quick decision.  It did, however, get me to thinking that this is an excellent example of how Council could easily and without added cost implement this kind of online participation. It's what we've been talking about among Council and this is a very timely example.  It just seems like a good opportunity to point it out and say "this is how it could be different" and "look, it's not so bad." 

As an aside, an decision like the one Counilors are currently considering would be a great catalyst to get individuals to try ALA Connect.  People are overwhelmingly inspired by the topic, as noted by the very positive response so far, and it would have been a good, positive way to introduce the tool.

I think it's all good, but I'd like to see this as an example of what could be.

Aaron Dobbs's picture

Hi Gina,

You mean a poll like this one?
http://connect.ala.org/node/74008

About the only change needed would be to hide the previous votes until after one has voted.

There are two tabs - the View tab might need to not show the votes-to-date and the Votes tabs might need to be hidden until after the voting time-frame is completed?

*****

If I'd asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses. -- Henry Ford

-Aaron
:-)'

"Always remember everyone is working to make the organization better in their own way."
-Eli Mina, ALA Parliamentarian

Jenny Levine (staff)'s picture

Speaking as a staff member involved with Connect, I can confirm that the polls/votes module does what you're asking for. It doesn't ask you to put in your name because it already knows who you are. There's a "votes" tab on the poll that shows how each person voted. In fact, the ACRL Board has already been using this feature since Connect launched to take official votes.

Aaron makes some good suggestions for improvement, but we'd have to figure out funding and where they fit in on the priorities list. There is sooooooo much to do (in a good way)!  :)

HTH, but let me know if you have further questions about any of this.
Jenny

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Jenny Levine, ALA staff | jlevine@ala.org | http://connect.ala.org/user/65016

Michael Golrick's picture

My recollection from my service on the ALA Executive Board was that the ALA is governed by the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Some of those organizational laws require that even with a telephone vote (which the EB does from time to time), those votes must be confirmed at the next face to face meeting. I clearly remember that email voting was not permitted (at least at that time) because it was asychronous.

That lack of opportunity for discussion is what prohibited the email voting. I would need to wrap my head a little more around how this technology is different (or the same) as email voting.

It is an excellent question to ask. The technology has changed, and indeed, Massachusetts laws may have changed. I think that American culture (at least in some parts of the country) has also changed as evidenced by the many places which offer the opportunity for "early voting." I think I remember Diedre Conckling saying that Oregon does not even open polls any more, the "voting day" is the day when ballots must be returned.

Aaron Dobbs's picture

Even if the laws haven't changed, couldn't we explicitly state somewhere in the rules/by-laws/wherever that technology-enhanced methods are acceptable?

Also, we did have the opportunity to discuss the recent email-vote activity - via the same list by which we were requested to vote. 

No one, as yet, has done other than vote and ocasionally add a brief comment.

I think it would have been a better process if we'd been asked for comments with a vote date set a week or two in the future, but that's a process which needs hammering out. 

*****

If I'd asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses. -- Henry Ford

-Aaron
:-)'

"Always remember everyone is working to make the organization better in their own way."
-Eli Mina, ALA Parliamentarian