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Elections

Adopted by the National Executive Committee May 5, 2007

Elections for location units

– When it becomes necessary to hold an election or byelection, the location unit executive must name an election committee of 2 or 3 people. These people will be responsible for conducting the election. Candidates for election are not eligible to be members of the election committee.

– The election committee, through the location unit president, will issue a call for nominations for the available position or positions. The CMG bylaws set out no specific time frame for the nomination period, but it should be long enough to give people some time to consider the possibility of running, or of nominating a colleague. Two weeks (10 working days) is a good guideline.

– For a nomination to be valid, the candidate, nominator and two seconders must all be CMG members in good standing, i.e. currently paying dues and with a signed membership application card on file. The candidate must also sign a declaration stating he/she accepts the nomination.

– Candidates’ names are to be posted (e.g. on a bulletin board or website) as their eligibility is confirmed by the election committee.

– Once the nomination period has closed, the election committee will review the list of candidates. If it is necessary to hold one or more elections, the committee will announce the date(s) of the vote. Under the CMG bylaws, there must be at least two weeks notice of elections. This gives candidates an opportunity to campaign for support.

– An election committee should issue the call for nominations and the date of any necessary elections at the same time. The end of the nomination period must still be no less than two weeks before the projected election date.

– If no elections are necessary, i.e. if there is only one candidate per available position, the election committee will announce that the candidate(s) is/are elected by acclamation.

– If there are no candidates for one or more positions, the election committee may extend the nomination period briefly. The committee may choose to delay all elections for the same length of time, or else hold the elections for the contested positions, and hold the election for the other position(s) some time later. If there are still no candidates for the position after the extended nomination period closes, the executive may either apportion those duties among themselves, or appoint a person by consensus.

– The location unit election committee, in consultation with the current location unit executive, will determine the manner of voting, and whether advance polling will be permitted. NB any advance poll should still be held no less than two weeks after the formal close of nominations.

– In determining the manner or manners of voting, due consideration should be given to employees’ schedules and work patterns in order to allow the maximum number of members to vote. Results should be delivered as quickly as reasonably possible after the close of polling.

– In cases where elections are necessary at multiple levels (e.g. location unit, branch and national) at approximately the same time, the elections committees involved should endeavour to coordinate their efforts as much as is practicable.

– All CMG elections and byelections must be conducted by secret vote. For clarity, in a secret ballot process, a record is kept of who has voted (primarily to ensure that no one votes more than once), but no ballot can be traced back to the person who cast it. All balloting and counting procedures must respect this principle, whether the vote is on paper or electronic.

– Normally location unit and small branch elections will be done using paper ballots. However, a vote may be held at a general membership meeting as long as members have no less than two weeks notice. Such a vote still must be done by secret ballot; simple “show of hands” votes are not allowed.

– As a general principle, proxy voting is not to be used. If circumstances are so unusual that the elections committee believes proxy voting may be necessary or advisable, the committee must immediately contact the Guild’s national office so that legal counsel can be consulted to ensure the process is set up properly.

The CMG’s standing national elections committee may be consulted to deal with any logistical issues at any time during the process. If a member challenges the result of an election, the challenge must first be brought to the location unit election committee, which will determine whether all the established rules were followed. If the member is not satisfied with the location unit election committee’s review, the challenge may be brought before the national elections committee, which will conduct its own investigation or review and issue a ruling as quickly as reasonably possible. If the member is still not satisfied, the National Executive Committee may review the facts as presented and issue a final ruling, subject only to the provisions of article 16 of the CMG bylaws.

Elections for branch executives or the NEC

These procedures deal particularly with larger branches which have location units and members across the country. This would include the CP/BN and CBC branches as well as the NEC. Small branches, on the other hand, will generally follow the election rules set out for location units, with the exception of the notice period for elections, which is three weeks instead of two. For the purposes of this document a small branch is defined as any branch whose membership is largely concentrated in a single city.

The CMG national elections committee is responsible for conducting these votes.

– The call for nominations will be issued to all members who are eligible to participate in the vote. The nomination period must be no less than ten working days, i.e. two weeks.

– For a nomination to be valid, the candidate, nominator and two seconders must all be CMG members in good standing, i.e. currently paying dues and with a signed membership application card on file. The candidate must also sign a declaration stating he/she accepts the nomination.

– In the case of a byelection, a candidate who currently holds another position at the same level (location unit, branch or national executive) is not required to resign his/her seat to run for the vacant seat. In the event the candidate is elected to the vacancy, he/she shall be immediately deemed to have resigned from his/her previous position, and another byelection will be held as necessary.

– Candidates’ names should be posted on bulletin boards or websites etc. as their eligibility is confirmed by the elections committee.

– Once the nomination period has closed, the election committee will review the list of candidates. If it is necessary to hold one or more elections, the committee will announce the date(s). There must be at least three weeks notice of elections; this also constitutes the campaign period. Candidates are encouraged to send a short biographical note to the national office for distribution to the membership.

– If no elections are necessary, i.e. if there is only one candidate per position, the election committee will announce that the candidate(s) is/are elected by acclamation.

– If there are no candidates for one or more positions, the election committee may extend the nomination period briefly. The committee may choose to delay all elections for the same length of time, or else to hold the elections for the contested positions and hold the election for the other position(s) some time later. If there are still no candidates for the position after the extended nomination period closes, the executive may either apportion those duties among themselves, or appoint a person by consensus.

– The national elections committee, in consultation with the branch executive council, will determine the manner of voting, and whether advance polling will be permitted. Any advance poll should still be held no less than three weeks after the formal close of nominations.

– In the consultation process, the following issues will be given due consideration: protection of the secrecy of individual votes, voter turnout, speed and accuracy of results, dealing with voters who are in remote locations or who may be unable to vote on the voting day(s), and cost to the union.

– In cases where elections are necessary at multiple levels (e.g. location unit, branch and national) at approximately the same time, the elections committees involved should endeavour to coordinate their efforts as much as is practicable.

– All CMG elections and byelections must be conducted by secret ballot.

– Two voting options are available: online (Internet) voting or traditional (paper) ballots. A combination of the two may be used in some cases. In exceptional circumstances the committee may study or propose other methods.

– As a general principle, proxy voting is not to be used. If circumstances are so unusual that the elections committee believes proxy voting may be necessary or advisable, legal counsel must be consulted to ensure the process is set up properly.

– CMG employees shall not participate directly in any candidate’s election campaign.
If a member challenges the result of an election, the challenge must first be brought to the national elections committee, which will determine whether all the established rules were followed. If the member is still not satisfied, the National Executive Committee may review the facts as presented and issue a final ruling, subject only to the provisions of article 16 of the CMG bylaws.

Strike votes and ratification votes

Generally speaking, the rules and procedures for strike votes and ratification votes reflect the procedures laid out for branch or NEC votes.

– The CMG national elections committee is responsible for conducting these votes.

– Voters will be given as much advance notice as possible. Because of the nature of the collective bargaining process and the tight timelines that are often involved, it is impossible to set fixed notice periods. After consulting the executive council, and Presidents’ Council where appropriate, of the affected branch, the bargaining committee will consult with the national elections committee before issuing notice of a strike or ratification vote.

– The question for strike or ratification votes will be developed by the bargaining committee in consultation with the executive council of the branch in question and the national elections committee. The question will be clear and unambiguous and will call for a yes/no response.

– The voting options are the same as those for branch or NEC elections, i.e. online or paper ballots, or a combination of the two.

– Strike and ratification votes should be run in such a way as to encourage the greatest number of voters to participate. This may include an advance poll, within the limits of applicable federal or provincial legislation dealing with strike votes.

– The national elections committee will solicit the branch executive’s input in determining the method or methods of voting. In making its determination the committee will examine issues including protection of the secrecy of individual votes, speed and accuracy of results, voters in remote locations, advance polling and cost to the union.

– As a general principle, proxy voting is not to be used. If circumstances are so unusual that the elections committee believes proxy voting may be necessary or advisable, legal counsel must be consulted to ensure the process is set up properly.

– Location unit officers who are given the responsibility of running a paper vote in their location will count the ballots for their location and immediately report the results to the national office by telephone or e-mail. The paper ballots will be sealed into an envelope and sent by the quickest available method to the national office, so that a confirmed official count can be done.

General principles for online electronic voting

Technology has sufficiently penetrated into Guild workplaces and members’ homes to allow for effective and efficient online voting. This method is convenient and allows rapid turnaround of results. Another key advantage is that an online system allows members in every location – in Canada or abroad – to participate.

Any online voting system must provide the following:

– Voter security, with a login system that relies on information known only to the voter and to the Guild’s national office.

– Measures to ensure that voters cannot vote more than once.

– The ability to successfully identify an individual voter’s right to vote in various elections. For example, a member who lives in BC and works at CBC may be able to participate in some votes but not necessarily the same ones as another employee who lives in BC but works at CP/BN.

– The ability to vote on a challenge basis.

– Quick reporting of results.

As with traditional paper voting methods, the system’s efficiency depends primarily on sufficient advance notice being given. It takes some time to design the structure of the voting application, particularly if the vote is of a complex nature (e.g. CBC branch or NEC elections), and to prepare a complete and accurate voters list. If an online vote is being contemplated, the national office should be advised as early as possible, even before the call for nominations.

General principles for paper votes

Traditional paper ballots can be the best method of conducting many votes, particularly when all the voters are in a single location and generally have the same or similar patterns of work.

When contemplating a vote using paper ballots, the following issues must be considered:

– Reasonable access to the polling place. Generally this can or may be on-site, although strike votes are generally held off employer premises. Voting days/hours must be set in such a way as to allow members on all shifts to vote.

– Voters lists must be requested from the Guild’s national office. Members must sign by their name to receive their ballot or ballots. In the event of multiple votes or elections happening simultaneously, care must be taken to ensure that each voter is only given ballots corresponding to the votes/elections that he/she is eligible to participate in.

– Each vote or election should be held on a separate ballot; if multiple votes are taking place at the same time, the ballots must be easily distinguishable from each other Generally speaking, the use of different-coloured paper will suffice to differentiate ballots. This allows for greater efficiency in counting and lessens the likelihood of a miscount.

– At the end of the voting period, the voters list must be retained and delivered to the appropriate individuals (generally the elections committee responsible for the conduct of the election in question) along with the ballots.

Combining online and traditional voting methods

As mentioned elsewhere in this document, it is possible to combine online and paper voting. When combining these two methods, it is imperative to build in safeguards to prevent members from voting more than once. Generally speaking, if online and paper ballots are to be used, the online process will have to happen first; an accurate voters list for the paper vote can only be generated after the online poll has closed and the voters’ names marked on the list as having voted.

Other voting methods

New technologies or individual situations may give rise to new or different voting methods. In cases where any such voting method is to be contemplated, the same basic principles must be discussed and satisfactorily addressed: secrecy of individual votes, access to the vote, speed and accuracy of results and cost to the union. Voting rules must be committed to writing by the election committee in question and communicated to members before the announcement of the election date(s).

Voter eligibility

Unless more restrictive eligibility rules are set up (e.g. in certain strike or ratification votes) and subject to any geographical or branch-specific restrictions that may be in place for a particular vote, any Guild member in good standing is entitled to vote. A Guild member in good standing is defined as a person who is currently paying dues and who has completed a CMG membership application card.

For every vote, CMG staff in the Guild’s national office will set up a list of eligible voters. Having a CMG plastic membership card does not necessarily mean that a person is automatically eligible to vote. The main purpose of these cards is to communicate the member’s nine-digit ID number.

For paper votes: A voter whose name is on the list as a cardholder will sign his/her name on the voting list in order to receive a ballot. A voter whose name is on the list as a non-cardholder may vote immediately upon completing a membership application card.

Where a voter’s eligibility is uncertain (e.g. the voter’s name is not on the voters list, or the member claims not to have signed a membership card but wishes to vote anyway) the returning officer will allow the voter to vote on a challenged basis. The returning officer will write the voter’s name on an envelope along with the comment CHALLENGED, and will make a similar notation on the voters list; the voter will then mark his/her ballot and seal it into a blank envelope, which will then be sealed into the first envelope. At the time ballots are counted, the people responsible for the counting will verify the eligibility of voters whose names are on the challenged ballots. If a challenge is deemed to be successful, the envelope will be opened and the blank envelope will be mixed in with the other ballots.

Where a voter votes in a location unit other than his/her own, the procedure shall be the same as for a challenged ballot, except that the comment ALTERNATE LOCATION will be written on the envelope and voters list.

Ballots must be marked clearly and unambiguously. Where the voter’s intentions are ambiguous (e.g. more than the anticipated number of choices, comments or questions written on the ballot, blank ballot) the ballot shall be deemed to be spoiled.

For online votes: each voter uses their nine-digit ID number to vote. Even members of the bargaining unit who have never signed a membership card have an ID number, which they can access by communicating with the CMG office. In the event a voter comes forward who is completely unknown to the CMG, an ID number will be assigned to that person, and that individual’s vote will be segregated from the other votes at the time the results are communicated electronically to the Guild office.

The online voting system means that the issue of alternate locations is moot. Spoiled ballots are not permitted. The system can be designed in such a way that a voter may choose not to vote in an election, or not to make the maximum number of choices allowed, e.g. in an election of convention delegates.

Counting ballots

Any ballot box must be sealed prior to the beginning of polling (or advance poll, if one is being held). The election committee responsible for the vote must maintain custody of the ballot box at all times.

Any unsealing of the ballot box or counting of ballots must be done after the end of the voting period, in the presence of no fewer than two officers.

Immediately upon unsealing the ballot box, the number of ballots (including those sealed in envelopes) must be checked against the number of signatures and notations on the voters list. Presuming this number is correct, counting of ballots may proceed. Any discrepancy – especially in cases where there are more ballots in the box than expected – must be thoroughly investigated to find an explanation.

Those counting the ballots will verify each other’s work. Once the count is complete, the members doing the counting must write and sign a brief report of the results. This report will be forwarded to the proper executive level, i.e. location unit, branch or national office.

The contents of the ballot boxes including all paper ballots, marked and unmarked, should be kept for no less than two weeks after the results are announced. After that they may be destroyed, preferably by shredding.

Any candidate in an election has the right to have a scrutineer present at the time ballots are counted. Under no circumstances shall any scrutineer participate in the counting process; the scrutineer may only examine ballots as they are counted to ensure that the count proceeds fairly. Any complaints or concerns raised by a scrutineer must be communicated to the elections committee concerned, with a copy to the Guild’s national elections committee.

If a member wishes to challenge the conduct or result of any national election or vote, the challenge must first be brought to the national elections committee, which will determine whether all the established rules were followed. If the member is not satisfied with the outcome of this review, the National Executive Committee may review the facts as presented and issue a final ruling, subject only to the provisions of article 16 of the CMG bylaws.

Conclusion

The CMG national elections committee will review these procedures from time to time and recommend changes, additions or deletions to the Guild’s National Executive Committee as necessary.

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