Re: Troop Elections - The Mechanics
settummanque, or blackeagle (blkeagle@DYNASTY.NET)
Tue, 20 May 1997 13:24:25 -0500
John Durbetaki asked about how Troop elections are conducted:
The reason why there's not a clear "procedure" in the Scoutmasters'
Handbook, John, as you will read here on this list, is because there's about
upteen (upteen is my word I'm using this week for "a lot of" *grinning*)
different ways that a unit may hold those elections. What works best is
what works with *your* unit.
We've always used a nomination, candidate speech, questions, and then
secret ballot-type format for all of the elections in all of the units that
I've served as "primary leader" for. This parallels what they do in school
and church for youth leadership, and (somehow) closely parallels what they
will see or experience in adulthood. It's not the best way, and I grant it
that it's not the way that smaller units HAVE to do things...but with a
medium to large unit, that's the way I've done it.
Another way, which was told to me is the "traditional way" that senior
leadership was elected back in the "good old days", was that each Patrol
holds an election on their own for Patrol Leader and Assistant. Then, the
Patrol Leaders would among themselves, elect a Senior Patrol Leader, and
that Patrol's Assistant would become Patrol Leader and would have to appoint
an Assistant. The Senior Patrol Leader would then appoint his "staff": the
Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, Scribe, Librarian, Den Chiefs, and other
officers. I don't like it, but it may work with your unit.
>How are qualifications set?
That's up to your Patrol Leaders' Council, John.....they set the
qualifications (of course, with your consent and approval.). Such
qualificiations may include a period of time in the Troop (waiverable if the
person transferred to your Troop from another) or in Scouting (or both),
the attainment of a certain rank, or the attainment of a set of skills or
all or none of the above. The "qualification" could just be "whomever can best
lead the Troop, represent us to the adults in our Troop and community,
and can be an example to us in and out of Scouting".
>Is there any filtering process (for example does PLC approve candidates
>or is anyone who meets the requirements eligible)?
It should be anyone that meets the requirements/qualifications that's been
set up in advance by your PLC....you don't want to "filter" too many Scouts
or you'll end up "appointing leaders" again!
>How are campaigns conducted (probably effects SPL more than PL)?
In the typical "political campaign style" (hopefully without any graft,
corruption, or other un-Scoutlike conduct!! *wide grin*). In my units,
there's very little "campaigning" done because the nomination, speech and
election's all done on the same night....but let's get real here....if we
know that an election for Grand Poobar is coming up, and we want to run for it,
we're going to do what we can to talk to as many people beforehand, convince
them that "I really want to be Grand Poobah, and I think that I can provide
the leadership we need"....before the nomination and election night. Our
Scouts are just like us, and they've got this thing figured out as well.
>How long are campaigns?
Like I stated, they can last from the time you announce that the unit's
going to have elections until election evening, or a very short run during
>How is voting done (secret ballot, show of hands)?
I don't like "show of hands" because if we're talking about demonstrating
citizenship to our Scouts, the "right to vote and to disssent" should be
private, just like it is with us adults. I only like "show of hands" in a
last-minute, "we need a decision and we need it NOW!" kinda format, where I
can't wait for someone to tear up paper, hand out pens and tabulate votes
Secret ballot, with the opportunity to vote for "none of the above" or
"another Scout that meets "the requirements" whom you feel would be a better
leader than the ones listed." To aid this, I take a piece of cardboard or
use the chalk or whiteboard and list the names of ALL of the Scouts that are
"eligible" according to the PLC's "qualifications", even though they may not
be "nominated". Some Scouts are kinda shy about standing up and stating
their loyality to a friend....they think that it's "bragging"
(and in some cases, it is). I list the name in last-name alphabetical order
as not to influnce or favor one Scout over another. I also list all names
using the same color marker or chalk, again as to not to "highlight" (even
subconsiciosly) a particular Scout.
Lastly, I don't allow myself nor my Assistants (nor any other adult present)
to have an "opinion" or "a suggestion" about "whom we would vote for or what
we thought". Our thoughts, suggestions, and opinions aren't needed
here....nor should they be included in ANY part of the process. Let the
Scouts elect THEIR leadership, not the leadership that WE want in place! I
ask those adults that can't understand that concept to leave the room....and
yeah, John....I had to bite my own tongue as well when in one case, a boy
was nominated that I really had NO INTEREST whatsoever in working with, and
rather to leave the room or turn around
or give some other indication of my *personal displeasure*, I just stood
there and didn't say anything (and man, did I want to say some stuff THAT
>Our elections are mid July (after Summer Camp). I think the candidates
>should be known to the Troop before camp so that the boys can see the
>candidates in action. Any thoughts?
Not bad. It gives your Scouts -- and the adults involved -- a chance to see
all of the Scouts in your unit, AND allows for those "late bloomer" leaders
to come out and "show their stuff" in a DIFFERENT environment other than
"regular Troop meetings and stuff".
One of the things I ask my PLCs to insist upon in their "qualifications",
John, is that each Scout MUST be willing to attend Junior Leader Training as
soon after the elections are held and at times during the year that are set
aside for such training. Some Scouts have no problem in serving as a
leader, but when it comes time to be trained to do that job better, all of a
sudden, they have a variety of other things that they "need to do". I give
my new leaders two opportunities and after they haven't attended the second
opportunity, they are removed from office (effective or not) and a new
election held to fill the "unexipired period of office". I've only had to
do it once, and then I hated to do it because the kid was a GREAT Scribe.
But he knew that it was coming, and left the Troop anyway.
Whatever your PLC and you work out, John....STICK TO YOUR GUNS and don't
change the rules or the procedure because you "don't like the direction it's
going in". Bad move all the way around....in real life, we have to deal
with whomever the majority elects, we learn to work with or around the
person (hopefully we learn to work with the person!) and we look forward to
his or her leaving that office and a new election with new leadership.
That's the way it's done in this country, and as teachers and coaches of
citizenship, that's the way it should be done in our units and among our
youth, the leaders of this country long after we're gone!
Let us all know how the election turns out, John...there's a LOT of Scouters
out there like you wanting to know how YOU did it and what happened!! GREAT
(c) 1997 Mike Walton ("no such thing as strong coffee,...") (502) 827-9201
(settummanque, the blackeagle) http://www.vhm.com/~uscardnl/
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