Election Tasks for Pacifica Stations and GMs
From: Eve Moser
Date: Mon, 10 Nov 2003 20:29:49 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Election Tasks for Pacifica Stations and GMs, DRAFT Memo, 9/30/03
A list of "General Manager and Station Election Tasks" by Terry Bouricius, National Elections Supervisor, is posted here for the benefit of all. Terry asks that it be read in the context of the accompanying explanatory notes.
Eve Moser [CdPNY, WBAI area]
Election Tasks for Pacifica Stations and GMs, DRAFT Memo, 9/30/03
1. This was a DRAFT for a memo to GMs that the National Election Supervisor prepared on September 30, 2003, at the request of the Executive Director and the General Managers as the result of a conference phone call. This may have been some changes in the final text of the actual memo that the ED sent to the GMs in early October.
2. The National Elections Supervisor cannot order station managers or staff to do anything. He can only work through the Executive Director by proposing procedures, and ultimately either certify or not certify the election. The Executive Director is ultimately responsible for seeing that the preparation tasks are completed so that the elections are conducted successfully. The actual preparation, outreach, etc. for the election is in the hands of the station management and staff. The one exception is the actual preparation, mailing and counting of ballots, which no management nor staff will be involved with, and is instead completely in the hands of Local and National Election Supervisors. But the Local Election Supervisors also do not have the authority to order station management nor staff to take particular actions in preparation for the election.
General Manager and Station Election Tasks
1. Transmit a complete copy of all subscriber and volunteer databases to Dan Coughlin , regardless of their state, immediately (today).
2. Get promos on the air immediately (in various languages when possible) announcing that the election process has begun and that listeners interested in running can contact the Local Election Supervisor or visit the web site for petitions and candidate information.
Require these to be run at least once during every show (some listeners may only listen to a single show they like). There will also be other promos that will be required early, such as for recruiting volunteers to the new Election Supervisory Panel of neutral individuals to be appointed by the Local Election Supervisor.
3. Using the KPFA budget as a model, and after consulting with your Local Election Supervisor and the Executive Director, establish an election budget for each station that includes an agreed to stipend for the Local Election Supervisor. (while they may be paid through the National Office, the money, as I understand, is originating from station budgets.)
4. Set up a phone extension, or other phone number with voice mail or an answering machine exclusively for the election supervisor to receive messages. these messages may be listeners requesting candidate packages, or making charges of staff violating the fair campaign provisions, or whatever. Therefore nobody should be allowed to listen to the messages without the express permission of the Local Election Supervisor.
5. Make sure all paid and unpaid staff and anybody who has access to the air, or web site posting has read and signed the fair campaign provisions statement. This is not a "pledge" to abide by them, but simply a statement that the person has read and understands them. If somebody says they don't "understand them, refer that person to me. This is a REQUIREMENT of the bylaws, and failure of a staff person to sign is grounds for dismissal in my opinion - though you should check with your labor contract people.
6. Update your staff lists - both paid and un-paid staff. Prepare a "rough-cut" of who you believe are eligible to vote based on the language in the bylaws (pasted here:
"STAFF MEMBERS "Staff Members" shall be: (1) any non-management full-time or part-time paid employee of a Foundation radio station; or (2) any member of a Foundation radio station "Unpaid Staff Organization" or "Unpaid Staff Collective Bargaining Unit" which has been recognized by station management, or, if the station has neither such organization or bargaining unit, then any volunteer or unpaid staff member of a Foundation radio station who has worked for said radio station at least 30 hours in the preceding 3 months, exclusive of fundraising marathon telephone room volunteer time. Said volunteer work shall be performed under the supervision of the Foundation radio station management and shall not include volunteer work on committees of a Local Station Board. Radio station management employees and Foundation staff employees who are not employed at a Foundation radio station shall not qualify as Staff Members, however, such employees may qualify as Listener-Sponsor Members by contributing the requisite minimum dollar amount as set forth in Section 1(A) of this Article of these Bylaws."post and circulate your rough-cut list to give those aggrieved an opportunity to explain why they think a name should or should not be included. Try to resolve these disputes internally. If they cannot be resolved refer the individuals to the Local Election supervisor who will make a final determination, subject to a final appeal to the National Election Supervisor.
To aid yourself and the Election Supervisors in evaluating claims of un-paid staff (particularly in collective situations, that they should be on the voter list, you should send to me as soon as possible a series of "bench-marks" for the average number of hours of behind-the scenes labor is reasonable to produce each hour of on-air programming for various types of programs (news, community, music, etc.). I will then adopt a guideline for determining how many "voters" is the appropriate number for such collectives, which will be standard across all five stations, subject of course to challenge based on documentation of hours worked. If the collective can't agree on WHICH staff are eligible, or disputes the total number of votes allocated to their collective (remembering the votes are cast individually not as a group), they can appeal to the Local Election Supervisor.
7. Set up systems to facilitate prospective candidates in gathering petitions.
In preparing for the Local Station Board elections each station needs to facilitate the ability of prospective candidates to reach out to other listeners for the purpose of collecting nomination petition signatures.
There are at least three procedures that you should all be setting in place.
A. Providing any listener seeking a nomination with the opportunity to have a statement posted on a special web page summarizing why that individual should be a candidate. The details can be established by the Local Election Supervisor, but the cooperation of your web master will be essential. By publicizing this web page on air, listeners who are interested in assuring they will have candidates to their liking to vote for will be able to visit the web page and browse through the candidate statements, and send email messages or phone call candidates with either questions, or offers to sign their petitions. The format will be set by the Local Election Supervisor, but might have an opening sentence from each candidate with a link to the full 500-word candidate statement that would then have a link to send an email to that candidate or the candidates other contact information. Something like this…
Tina A. Franklin
Jose ValenzuelaB. Listeners who do not have internet access should be able to also learn about prospective candidates seeking nomination signatures. Each station needs a phone number (or extension) with an answering machine or voice mail for the Local Election Supervisor to allow listeners who would like to offer themselves for solicitation to contact the station, giving their mailing address and or phone number and permission for prospective candidates to contact them with information in search of nomination signatures. We cannot be certain if many listeners will take this option to add their names to a "please contact" list, or if any prospective candidates will spend the postage to contact them, but we must provide non internet options for listener candidate outreach.
C. The third procedure (which is also accessible to non internet users) is to have several "Meet the candidates" community gatherings. It is hoped the Local Election Supervisor and any existing election committee will play a role in organizing these, but logistical help from station staff, and on air publicity for these events will be necessary.
8. Update listener volunteer lists, both names and addresses. Prepare a "rough-cut" list of those who appear eligible to vote (worked at least three hours in past year) and cross-reference it to the subscriber list. Once you have a rough-cut of eligible volunteers who have NOT contributed the minimum $25.00 in the past year, this smaller list should be mailed a post card to the last known address with address correction notification, informing them that Pacifica will be mailing them a ballot this Winter unless they notify the station that they do not wish to be considered a member. Then you need to have numerous on-air announcements for a one week period after the post cards should have arrived that all volunteers who the station has records for have been mailed a post card, and that if any listener believes he or she SHOULD be eligible to vote due to volunteer labor, rather than due to $25 minimum contribution, but that listener did NOT receive such a post card, then that person should call the station to straighten out the records. If somebody calls and eligibility is still in dispute the listener should be directed to appeal to the Local Election Supervisor.
9. Provide a means for listener subscribers to check if they are on the voter list.
Listeners who are not sure if they are qualified voters will need to have a way of checking, so that they can either pay-up, or challenge a possible error in the database. To reduce the amount of office time devoted to answering phone calls, you might want to establish a way for listeners to check the database on the internet. You will need to figure out with your database people how best to do this. One possible way is to post a truncated but searchable version of the database on your web site -- including names and the first several characters of the address line (but not the entire address to prevent commercial interests from mining our data base for junk mailings, etc.) Another possible means is to allow an individual to type in their name and address, and have a Yes/No response from the web site. The trick is how to handle slight differences in names or addresses such as
"23 Ash Street" vs. "23 Ash St."In case a database error is alleged, you will need to have in place an impartial means of resolving such disputes. Again, if a dispute cannot be resolved the individual should be referred to your Local Election Supervisor to appeal any disputes that cannot be resolved internally.
This system should be in place as soon as possible. Let me know if there is no cheap and reasonable way to automate this. If not you may want to offer volunteer work to some listener just to screen these sorts of inquiries, providing the volunteer with a copy of the database under strict confidentiality agreements.
10. Adjust Subscriber lists. This means sorting the database to determine year-to-date totals through the "Record Date" (cutoff point for the annual $25.00 requirement). Also, identify multi-name subscriber households that have contributed more than $50, so that they can be subdivided into separate membership records, since they will be mailed separate ballots. Some multi-member household may need to be contacted to determine, for example, if three names gave $50, how should the names be grouped on two separate ballot envelopes?
11. As we approach the end of the nomination period in November, each station will need to quickly update their databases again as the membership drives wind up. At this time I am making an educated guess that the "record Date" for cutting off membership for this election will be around November 14. This means that bills to new subscribers during the October drive who want to pay by check should take priority in terms of data-entry so that bills can go out as soon as possible - ideally by November 7th at the latest, to give new subscribers a decent chance to get their checks in by the cutoff date (having "pledged" is not sufficient.) The bills should have an election insert including a bold statement about the deadline for receiving checks for voting eligibility.
12. All of the FINAL voting lists (subscribers and volunteer listeners combined, and a separate list of staff voters need to be given to the Local Election Supervisor no later than the close of candidate nominations (My best guess is November 15th or November 22nd)
13. During the "campaign period" (from the close of nominations through the deadline for returning ballots), each station will need to schedule substantial air time for election programming, including candidate forums, and promos informing listeners how they can find out more about candidates and urging members to send back their ballots, etc. I will work with you and the Executive Director to develop a "minimum on-air election coverage requirement" for all stations.
14. The stations will have NO INVOLVEMENT with distributing or collecting petitions, with collecting candidate statements, with preparing candidate information to be mailed with ballots, with preparing ballots themselves, with mailing ballots, with the return of ballots, or with the counting of ballots.
15. I have not settled on what role if any the station may need to play in a waiver process for low-income listeners, but the station will probably need to mail out application forms to individuals who request one.
I am sure other tasks will surface that need station staff cooperation and effort, but this is the bulk of it I believe.
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