Voting on Officers

We elect our officers in the spring to have the new leadership in place for the summer. If you do something similar, do you have the outgoing seniors have a vote in who the next year’s officers will be? We are having quite the debate right now.


On our selection committee we invite:

  • Graduating Officers (seniors)
  • Any mentor
  • Alumni
  • Officers who aren’t applying for a higher up position

To attend and voice their opinion. The system seems to have worked for us in the past with usually the President and the lead mentor(s) getting a final say for new positions.

If the other students generally get a vote in the selection process, then I would let the graduating ones do so as well. That’s based on the presumption that all of the candidates have worked with the team long enough for the outgoing members to know how well-suited they would be for the jobs. If you don’t normally let the non-graduating students elect the officers, then there’s still a fair rationale for letting the graduates vote: they’re presumably more experienced. (Or maybe you could base it on actual experience: a person gets one vote for each full FRC season, up to a maximum of four.)

While people often gravitate toward voting (and especially first-past-the-post) as a way of making important decisions, it’s worth considering whether that’s really a good idea given your particular set of circumstances. Is every person supposed to have an equal say in the matter? Is it possible for the two best candidates to split the vote, and allow a third (who is supported by a minority only) to win? Is support from a plurality more important than the total amount of support a candidate receives?

To me, it sounds like the committee process, culminating in an instant-runoff vote (rank the candidates) or range vote (score the candidates) might give the voters some more flexibility in expressing their preferences.

Then again, it might be overkill if you’re just choosing from a pool of three candidates, or something like that.

A lot of teams just let the mentors pick this stuff. That has advantages too—but depending on the internal politics of your team, that might not be wise.

And one more thing to consider: do you really want to put the candidates through an election process of any sort? Mightn’t they have better things to worry about, than securing enough votes for an officership on a school team?

We have our technical captains appointed by the mentors and previous captain. Then offices like president, vp, secretary, etc. are voted on by the students. We do not let seniors vote in the election process. We feel that that only the students who will be on the team should have a say in who will be their leadership.

We have a system where the candidates choose amongst themselves who should be the leaders of the team in each area. They are guided by the previous captains, but ultimately the incoming candidates hold the power. Mentors have the right to veto if they don’t like the administration.

We switched to this system after having two really bad selections by the mentor.

Our team allows outgoing seniors to vote on the President and Vice President, this is done in the spring and we have a fall vote to vote on secretary and treasurer and sub-team managers.

Speaking from the standpoint of a college student:

My Aero Design team does something very similar–all officer elections are held at the end of the spring semester (if possible–it’s been held in the beginning of the fall semester a couple of times). All current student team members are eligible to vote. That includes both graduating seniors and incoming members for the next year who might not have been around very long. Advisors cannot vote, but can provide input on candidates.

Our team does elections in the spring also. We found it is helpful to have student leadership throuhout the spring & summer months when we are still very active. A few years back we put in a voting process that allows all members that have been part of the team throughout the build season to cast a vote, students who have just joined do not vote. Outgoing seniors vote toward the mentor vote. The mentor vote is only used if there is a tie in the student voting. Each ballot is marked with an M(mentor) or an S(student). It has been interesting to see that the voting has been fairly similar between the mentors and students. Most elections have had the same elected person result but a different percentage of votes for candidates.

We only allow students that have been through a build season to vote because many years ago we had a student bring a bunch of his friends to that meeting that were going to join the team just so he could get votes. Most of the students that he brought didn’t stay with the team but voted for him.

Our two team captains and safety captain are nominated by team members, and chosen by our head mentors and the previous year’s captains. Other leadership positions on our team are filled by conduction of an interview by our team’s head mentors and chosen based on performance in the interview, resume, and previous observed performance.

Only students that will be in the club next year will vote. Seniors can not vote, but they can nominate.

You can only run for one position after running for a position you can only be nominated to be able to run for another position.
You run for pres and lose
You can only be nominated in order to run for the 3 other positions.

To be able to run you need a nomination with a second.

5 minute speeches from each person running; you need majority vote.
In case of tie you rerun with another 5 minute speech.
And it gos on.
In case of a never ending tie, team mentors can break the tie.

We vote on 6 officer positions every spring. Everyone must be nominated, and seconded before being in the voting pool. Elections are sometimes highly competitive; the presidential one came down to 1 vote this year. Our team has ~55 people on it. The seniors are allowed to vote, since, presumably, they have been with the team for a long time, and know whats best for it. The positions are:

President: The head of the team

Build Team Manager (Vice President): Manages the technical side of things; project manager

Treasurer:Keeps track of the money

Admin: Bugs people to get their money/forms in. Also in charge of counting hours

PR: Shows people what we’ve got, organizes demonstrations, talks to sponsors

Outreach: Organizes giving back to the community, with things like team members volunteering, or community service elsewhere.

Our elections are held much the same way. Each candidate for a position gives a short speech on why they would be good for the position and what they would do with subteam. And yes we do allow our seniors to vote on new leaders. In my opinion you should allow the seniors to put in their vote for new leaders, even though they won’t be there when the leaders are in charge, the seniors that we end up still coming after their last season are those that do really care about the team and have put in a lot of work over the past four years. Also they’ve seen leaders come and go and can more easily spot who would be good for a certain position.

Team 166 has all team members apart from seniors vote. Seniors are generally allowed to voice an opinion, but not to VOTE.
People may run for the two Captain positions. They have to post a speech on our private Yahoo Groups, as well as present it out loud at one of our Friday meetings, and a week or two later people vote. In addition, people can also run for Team Council positions. The Team Council works (mainly during the offseason) to decide what the team will be doing during the upcoming year, and is composed of two students in each grade (apart from incoming Freshmen) and the subteam leads. The voted members are chosen the same way as the Captains, except I don’t think they have to give a speech (I missed that meeting this year). The subteam leads are chosen in the offseason by the Captains and the mentors.

910 elects two captains at the end of the season (tonight is the voting for 2012’s captains, in fact). Team members and mentors of the current season are invited to vote on the next year’s captains (the 2011 team elects the 2012 captains).

I think its important for us to have outgoing seniors vote. Its kind of like having an informed third party throw their voice in to the mix. They may be ok with making the right decision, rather than the popular one. Also, it can provide continuity in the overall direction of the team. They can help to ensure that the team stays on consistent path towards a goal, instead of potentially having radically different views come in to change things frequently and never actually accomplish anything (not that that happens with other elections… )

Everyone, even outgoing seniors vote. However, not all votes are considered equal… Our handbook clearly states that the captains are “chosen by the mentors with respect to student input”. So, we take the votes, look at them, and consider what the team wants with regards to what we’ve seen from the students who were voted for. Thus far, the votes have gone right along with our own feelings on who was ready to take on the role of captain :slight_smile: