Pacifica elections primer
A PRIMER ON PACIFICA'S LOCAL STATION ELECTIONS
By David Greene
The reorganization of the five-station Pacifica Radio network is centered on listener elections, with the expectation that elections of the Local Station Board (LSB) Delegates and Pacifica National Board (PNB) Directors will ensure accountable and representative governance.
Each station has a local election coordinator who is convening an election committee to help implement the elections. The actual schedule of elections, which should take about three months, won't be certain until bylaws are finally approved. Listener-sponsor elections and staff elections will take place at the same time.
Successful elections will rely on:
These elections will use a system of proportional representation called Choice Voting.
Proportional representation (PR) simply means that a given percentage of the vote will win approximately the same percentage of seats. In the case of the listener representatives, with 18 seats on the station board, each seat will be elected by about 1/18th of the voters. Put another way, a group of like-minded voters no larger than 1/18th of all voters should be able to elect their preferred representative to one of the seats. This system guarantees that a diversity of groups of like-minded voters can support their preferred candidate(s) and win their fair share of the 18 seats. Nevertheless it is possible that the gender and ethnic makeup of a Pacifica station's LSB might not match the demographics of a Pacifica station's signal area. As mentioned in the bylaws discussion, a mechanism may be included to add seats to the LSB to bring the board composition more in line with regional demographics.
COMMUNITY OUTREACH AND EDUCATION
Elections will include over a month of campaigning to inform voters about
the candidates and the election process, including:
ROLE OF THE STATION
The elections will rely on the irreplaceable resource of the airwaves: station on-air personalities and recorded messages will remind listeners about upcoming deadlines and events; some campaign events will be broadcast, and the station will pay for all election expenses.
ROLE OF THE VOTERS
Listener-sponsor voters must qualify as a:
The deadline to qualify will be announced once the schedule is established, but will be at least one month before the ballots are mailed. Couples who have given at least $50 and have given their local Pacifica station both names should receive two ballots.
To be valid, 10 percent of eligible voters must cast a vote. Voters will receive a mailed paper ballot and will have approximately 30 days to evaluate the candidates, then complete and return the ballot. Online voting should also be an option.
With at least 18 listener representatives being elected, there may 40 or more candidates! To vote, first decide which candidates you do -- and do not -- support. Then rank those whom you do support in order of preference – 1st choice, 2nd choice, etc. You may rank two or more candidates the same, but your single vote will then be divided among all candidates with the same rank. Do not rank those that you do not support.
Every vote is important – just 264 votes would win a seat in a 5,000-vote election!
To run for the board, you must
A lack of diverse candidates would severely jeopardize the ability of the election to result in a diverse board.
For more information on bylaws or elections, see your local station web site or www.pacifica.org.
PACIFICA'S NEW DEMOCRACY: AN OVERVIEW
By David Greene
The December 2001 settlement of lawsuits against the former Pacifica Radio Board of Directors -- for "gross abuse" of authority and diverting Pacifica from its founding purposes of promoting peace and understanding among people of all races, creeds, and nations -- created an interim board which is required to revise Pacifica's bylaws.
Proposed new bylaws provide for Listener Sponsors to elect 18 "Delegates" and the non-management staff (paid and unpaid) to elect six "Delegates" to a Local Station Board (LSB) at each of the five Pacifica radio stations. The Delegates from each of Pacifica's five stations would each elect, from among the station's Delegates, four Directors (for a total of 20) to serve on the Pacifica National Board (PNB). Two additional Directors will be chosen by the Board of Directors from nominees submitted by Pacifica Affiliate stations around the country.
The Delegates will also serve as a Local Station Board (LSB) with considerable authority and responsibilities, including approving the station budget, approving the hiring of a station General Manager and a Program Director, reviewing the station manager's and program director's performance annually, and ensuring that "station programming fulfills the purposes of the Foundation and is responsive to the diverse needs of the listeners (demographic) and communities (geographic) served by the station." It is hoped that decentralized LSBs will provide more knowledgeable and accountable oversight of station management than the remote national board did in the past. However, all authority and legal responsibility for oversight of Pacifica management – and all five Pacifica radio stations – ultimately rests with the PNB, which may overrule an LSB if necessary.
In addition to reiterating the founding purposes of Pacifica, as written in the original Articles of Incorporation, the new bylaws state the following Principles: The Foundation is committed to peace and social justice, and seeks to involve in its governance and operations individuals committed to these principles.
Approval of the bylaws has been delayed by concerns that elections might not provide sufficient representation for traditionally under-represented groups. Some are advocating creation of special "Committees of Inclusion" to set diversity goals for each station based on signal area demographics. If an election fails to meet the goals, then the Committee of Inclusion could add up to five additional Delegates from the highest vote-getters among unelected candidates. Others believe this proposal undercuts democratic accountability and may be illegal.
Currently, the interim Pacifica National Board is split on this issue. The December 2001 legal settlement stipulated that bylaws must be approved by 2/3rds of the interim board and by majority vote of at least three of the five current station LABs. But 2/3rds of the interim board cannot reach on agreement on a new set of bylaws. Therefore, the matter is being referred back to the Alameda Superior Court judge who brokered the December 2001 settlement.
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