While our current by-laws don’t give a lot of details about specific procedures, the Ontario Co-operative Corporations Act (principally Sections 90 and 91) covers elections. And we must follow that legislation. (We do have procedures we have used since the very beginning, based on the legislation. See below.)
Article III of Woodsworth’s current Organizational By-Law says:
14. Voting: A member of the Cooperative has only one (1) vote. All questions proposed for the consideration of the members at a meeting shall be determined by a majority of votes cast and the Chairman presiding at the meeting has a second or casting vote in the case of an equality of votes.
And Article IV of our current Organizational By-Law says:
6. Election and Removal:
(a) Directors shall be elected yearly by the members in general meeting by ballot…Every member entitled to vote at an election of directors, if he votes, shall cast thereat a number of votes equal to the number of directors to be elected, and the member shall distribute the votes among the candidates in such a manner as he sees fit, but no candidate shall receive more than one (1) vote from each member.
And Article IV, Section 3 outlines the qualifications for directors. The Co-operative Corporations Act says the same in 89 (1-2).
There is more detail about election processes in the Co-operative Corporations Act (Ontario).
Candidates must be there or must have agreed to run for election:
Section 89, Consent
(3) A person who is elected or appointed a director is not a director unless,
(a) the person was present at the meeting when he or she was elected or appointed and did not refuse at the meeting to act as director;
(b) where the person was not present at the meeting when he or she was elected or appointed, the person consented to act as director in writing before his or her election or appointment or within ten days thereafter. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.35, s. 89 (3).
Who can vote and how:
91 (1) is the same – vote for the same number of members as there are vacant spaces and no more than one vote for each candidate by a member.
You must be there to vote, since we are a non-profit housing co-operative:
Meeting by electronic means
(3) If the by-laws of a co-operative, other than a non-profit housing co-operative, so provide, a meeting of the members of the co-operative may be held by telephonic or electronic means and a member who, through those means, votes at the meeting or establishes a communications link to the meeting is deemed for the purposes of this Act to be present at the meeting. 2009, c. 34, Sched. F, s. 1.
76 (1) A member of a co-operative has only one vote. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.35, s. 76 (1).
Election of directors
90 (1) The directors shall be elected by the members in general meeting, and the election shall be by ballot in the manner prescribed by section 91.
Voting for directors
91 (1) Every member entitled to vote at an election of directors, if the member votes, shall cast at the election a number of votes equal to the number of directors to be elected, and the member shall distribute the votes among the candidates in such manner as the member sees fit, but no candidate shall receive more than one vote from each member. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.35, s. 91.
(2) Subject to subsection (3), no member of a co-operative shall vote by proxy. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.35, s. 76 (2).
Woodsworth has a procedure that the co-op and the Elections Committee has been using for years, based on the Ontario legislation and on our by-laws. This has been working well since our first elections in 1979.
The good news is that the model Organizational By-Law currently being reviewed by the By-Law Committee puts all of this in clearer and friendlier language!
Election Procedures (1998 version)
1. Returning Officer
YOU MUST BE VOTED IN AS CHIEF RETURNING OFFICER
THERE SHOULD BE A REPORT FROM THE NOMINATING COMMITTEE.
2. ballots:there should be someone at the door to give out ballots to all members.
Very important: IF THE VOTING HAS STARTED, THE MEMBER MUST RECEIVE ONLY BALLOTS FOR POSITIONS FOR WHICH NOMINATIONS PROCEDURE HAS NOT FINISHED.
3. Give members an overview of election procedure
– members should have ballots and the candidate profiles of declared candidates
– ballots were picked up at the door
– latecomers will be given ballots only for those positions that have not been voted on already
– some members have already agreed to stand for election
– meeting will be accepting nominations from the floor for the Board and for each committee
– members will be given an opportunity to read or re-read the candidate profiles from previously declared candidates before marking ballots
– members will be given an opportunity to mark ballots for each committee before the next nomination
– ballots will be deposited in the ballot boxes at the end of the whole election
– in other words, after members have marked ballots, keep it until we are finished electing all the committees and the Board.
MARKING YOUR BALLOTS
– no proxy voting is allowed
– you can put the first name or last name
– names are written for the members, if possible
– MEMBERS MUST CHOOSE AS MANY NAMES AS THERE ARE POSITIONS OPEN. For example, you must choose five names for the membership committee this year.
– each name must appear on your ballot only once.
– if you do not choose the full number of names to fill the positions on the committee, your ballot will be spoiled and not counted.
– ask “Are there any questions?”
– do 1 committee at a time – use the order below, not the order on the agenda
– read out the names of those already running for that committee – tell how many are needed
– tell them which slip is to be used
– emphasize the colour and repeat everything slowly
– call for nominations from the floor
– call slowly three (3) times
– if anyone is nominated, ask if the person agrees to stand
– if the person nominated is not there and there is no written agreement to stand, the name cannot be accepted.
– if the person agrees to stand, the name will be added to the chalkboard list
– after 3 calls, declare nominations for the ————————— (committee) closed.
If the number of candidates matches the number needed, no election is held – the candidates are acclaimed. NOTE: if one position is for 1 year, the elected candidates themselves will decide who will be the 1 year person.
If an election is necessary –
– ask the candidates to come to the front
– introduce them slowly so that members can put familiar faces together with names
– give the members time to read any blurbs.
– ask the candidates if they wish to speak for up to 1 minute.
Board members will speak or read their blurb for up to 2 minutes.
– there should be a time keeper for speakers.
– remind them about spoiled ballots and the correct colour
– remind them which committee they are voting for now
– give them enough time to read and write the names – make sure they know the names of the candidates
– get a sense if they are finished, then go on to the next committee
– ballots are collected at the end of the elections
6. Finishing up
– ASK FOR A MOTION TO DESTROY THE BALLOTS IN 24 hours. (after the meeting, someone responsible (not a candidate) should take charge of the ballot boxes. SECONDED AND VOTE.
– AT THE END OF THE ELECTION, give them a few minutes to put the ballots in the boxes.
– Ask for volunteers to count (not candidates) and go to another room with the ballot boxes.
7. REPORTING THE RESULTS
– successful candidates will be listed alphabetically without any indication of the number of votes for each candidate
– ballots will be kept for 24 hours before they are destroyed
– PLEASE GIVE THE RESULTS TO THE SECRETARY OR CHAIR OF THE MEETING AND PUT A COPY IN THE WEEKLY BOX.
– normally results are announced at the get-together after the meeting.