February 2012 Vacancy Election: Full Report

Final Report of the UAW, Local 2865 Election Committee

February 14-15, 2012 Statewide Vacancy Election

The following is our final report for the February 2012 Vacancy Election for the positions of Southern Vice President and four Los Angeles Head Stewards. Voting took place on nine University of California campuses on February 14-15, 2012, and the ballot tally took place at the UCLA Local 2865 office February 16-17, 2012.

More information on the election is available here.

We counted 907 valid ballots. Erin Conley received the most votes for the statewide, Executive Board position of Southern Vice President, and thus she is elected to this position. Renee Hudson, Alexandra Holmstrom-Smith, Alexei Nowak, and Mathew Sandoval received the most votes for the Joint Council, Los Angeles Head Steward positions, and thus they are elected to these positions. Table 1 (from the report’s pdf version) shows the distribution of votes by campus and candidate:

The Election Committee resolved all challenge ballots at the ballot tally. We counted all cast ballots except two that were cast by voters who we confirmed were not Local 2865 members. We resolved all other challenge ballots in favor of counting the votes. No cast ballots were blank. Appendix 1 contains a record of the challenge ballots and their resolution by campus.

The Election Committee is satisfied that this statewide election proceeded in a fair and democratic manner overall, and that the vote count is reliable.

Also, several officers were elected by acclamation in uncontested elections. See Appendix 2.

Challenges and Suggestions for Future Elections

Below we note some aspects of the election that we feel should be improved in subsequent elections.

(1) Ballot box size: The 10” x 6” ballot boxes, while easy to transport, were too small for campuses with large turnouts.
(2) Website notification: Advertisement of the election and information regarding the election could have been more apparent and easy to locate on the website.
(3) Poll worker neutrality: The Election Committee has concerns about proper poll worker comportment with respect to maintaining neutrality while volunteering. We received evidence from two campuses indicating that poll workers may not have remained neutral while volunteering. Overall, poll workers appeared to have conducted themselves in an impartial manner; however, we feel the lapse in poll worker neutrality is likely a statewide issue that evinces a need for more thorough training.
(4) Coordinating the election at San Diego and breach of protocols: The most serious challenge was coordinating the election at San Diego without an active election committee member from San Diego or a campus officer or volunteer willing to be responsible for the election. The Election Committee was unable to find anyone to assume responsibility for the election at San Diego, even following the Executive Board’s decision to allow compensation for a short-term staff member in this role and a statewide search for such a person. While three members volunteered to assist with the election at San Diego, none of these members were available to bottom-line the election. This void in organization and accountability played a role in enabling several irregularities in the election at San Diego.

(a) Failure to use the double-envelope system that the Election Committee agreed upon: On February 13, at the recommendation of the UAW Region 5 International Representative and while coordinating poll site assembly and staffing for the next day, the chair permitted San Diego poll workers to forgo the double-envelope system for ballots not cast as challenge ballots. The decision to simplify polling procedures was due to the difficulty in coordinating the election at the San Diego campus, including the necessity of relying on volunteers who did not receive training from the Election Committee and were confirmed the eve of the election; further, the membership roster provided a check against double voting. The chair’s decision, however, was in breach of the Election Committee’s agreed upon protocols. In the future, the full committee should be consulted before departing from the adopted protocols. Finally, while not a formal International directive and proffered under relatively urgent circumstances, the International Representative’s recommendation to dispense with a basic ballot safeguard is of some consternation given the controversy surrounding the Local’s previous statewide election —one culminating in a recent International Executive Board order that the Election Committee receive training via the International President’s office or Region 5 to “protect the sanctity of UAW elections.”
(b) Revision of polling locations and hours the day before the election: San Diego volunteers originally planned to run two daytime and two evening polling stations each day, and these locations and hours were timely noticed to the membership in accordance with the bylaws. Due to the inability to find someone to coordinate the election and a sufficient number of volunteers, the polling stations and hours were reduced to one daytime location per voting day. The membership received notice of the revised polling information the day before the election.
(c) Failure of polls to open at all as scheduled on February 15 and inadequately publicized, last- minute, evening poll site: For unknown reasons, the polls did not open at San Diego on the morning or afternoon of February 15 as scheduled and noticed to the membership. The Election Committee chair and volunteers scrambled to provide an opportunity for San Diego members to vote. In late afternoon, they identified a volunteer with access to the union office who was willing to open and staff a polling station in the evening during hours and at a location originally noticed to the membership. The volunteer had not been involved with the election at San Diego prior to that day. By omission of the Election Committee chair, notice of the polling site went out to only one of the two registered challengers and not to the candidates directly. We are pleased that the polls were ultimately able to open for a few hours on February 15; however, the circumstances of an untrained poll worker managing the polls without the presence of challengers, the failure to notify the candidates, and the difficulty in publicizing to members a polling location organized at the last minute are reasons for concern.

Planning and running an election require considerable work in the week prior to and during the election. The Election Committee strongly urges the Executive Board and Joint Council to consider better procedures for ensuring, at least two weeks prior to the election, that someone will be available and responsible for coordinating the election on a campus in the absence of an active Election Committee member or volunteer on the campus willing to be accountable for the election. We suggest that the Executive Board and Joint Council consider designating a staff person to coordinate the election in the latter circumstances. Preferably, this staff person would be physically present to assist with the election, although if necessary, a non-present staff person could work with a small number of responsible campus unit officers or volunteers.

In Solidarity,
Election Committee UAW Local 2865

Appendix 1: Challenge Ballots and Ballot Reconciliation

The Election Committee counted the ballots by campus in reverse alphabetical order, except that San Diego was the final campus we counted since we did not receive the ballot boxes until February 17. Due to reliable recordkeeping by poll workers, volunteers, and Election Committee members, we were able to account for nearly all printed ballots. Small discrepancies appear attributable to poll workers forgetting to check off or add names to the membership roster, minor enumeration errors, and bad weather that blew away several ballots. Given this recordkeeping and the lack of evidence of wrongdoing or negligent behavior in the election process, the Election Committee was able to resolve all challenges in favor of counting the ballots as valid votes, with the exception of two ballots cast by voters who were not members.

Santa Cruz:

• One ballot challenged at polls by poll worker, who noted on challenge list that voter placed ballot in box before completing a membership card. The voter did not complete a card, did not claim to be a member, and was not on the membership roster. Given the lack of evidence that the voter was a member, the Election Committee ruled that this was not a valid ballot. The poll worker erred in permitting the voter to cast the ballot before completing a membership card.

• One ballot challenged by Election Committee at tally on basis that outer envelope lacked identifying information. The Election Committee deemed the ballot valid, because the number of ballots in the ballot boxes matched the number of names crossed-off and added to the membership rosters, and we found no other evidence of negligence or wrongdoing that would suggest this was not a valid ballot.

Santa Barbara:

• Four ballots challenged at polls by poll workers on basis that voters claimed to be members of other campus units. We verified that the voters were members in good standing through an examination of the campus unit membership rosters and the statewide office’s query of the membership database. We deemed these four ballots valid.

• One ballot challenged at polls by poll worker on basis that voter claimed to be a member and did not complete a membership card at the polls, but was not on the membership roster. The statewide Local 2865 office queried the membership database and informed the Election Committee that this voter was not a member. The Election Committee deemed this ballot invalid.
Riverside:
• No ballots challenged at polls.
• One ballot challenged at tally by Election Committee on basis that outer envelope lacked identifying information. Consistent with our treatment of the Santa Cruz ballot (see above), due to the close correspondence between the number of ballots cast and number of names crossed-off or added to the membership roster, as well as the absence of evidence of negligence or wrongdoing, we deemed the ballot valid.
Los Angeles:
• One ballot challenged at polls by poll worker on basis that voter claimed to be member of another campus unit. We verified that the voter was a member in good standing by examining the campus unit membership roster and deemed the ballot valid.
• One ballot challenged at polls by poll worker on basis that voter claimed to be member of both the Berkeley and UCLA campus units and was not on the UCLA membership roster. The statewide Local 2865 office queried the membership database and verified that the voter was a member in good standing in the Berkeley unit; based on evidence that the voter had transferred to UCLA, we deemed the ballot valid and counted both the vote for Southern Vice President and votes for UCLA Head Stewards.
• One ballot challenged at tally by Election Committee on basis that voter did not enclose secret ballot envelope in outer envelope, and four ballots challenged at tally by Election Committee on basis that outer envelopes lacked identifying information. We deemed the five ballots valid, because the number of ballots in the ballot boxes matched the number of names crossed-off and added to the membership rosters, and we found no other evidence of negligence or wrongdoing that would suggest these were not valid ballots. Upon opening the secret ballot envelope that lacked an outer envelope, we found enclosed the outer envelope with identifying information and confirmed the voter was a UCLA campus unit member in good standing.
Merced:
• No ballots challenged at polls.
• Two ballots challenged at tally by Election Committee on basis that ballots lacked identifying information on the outer envelopes. Because there were only two cast ballots at Merced and two names checked-off the membership roster, and because we found no evidence of wrongdoing or negligence suggesting that these were not valid votes, we deemed the ballots valid.
Irvine:
• One ballot challenged at polls by poll worker on the basis that the voter claimed to be a
member of the UCLA campus unit. After examining the UCLA membership roster and
verifying that the voter was a member in good standing, we deemed the ballot valid.
•Three ballots subject to challenge at tally by Election Committee on the basis that the outer envelopes lacked identifying information. Given the correspondence between the number of names crossed-off or added to the membership roster and the number of cast ballots in the Irvine ballot boxes, as well as the absence of evidence of wrongdoing or negligence suggesting that these were not valid ballots, we deemed the ballots valid.
Davis:
• One ballot challenged at polls by poll worker on the bases that voter claimed to be a member of the UCLA campus unit. We identified the first voter as a member of the UCLA campus unit by examining the membership roster and deemed the ballot valid.
• One ballot challenged at polls by poll worker on basis that voter’s name was not on membership roster and voter completed a membership card at the polls. We deemed the ballot valid, because the protocols adopted by the Election Committee for this election do not require voters who complete membership cards at the polls to cast challenge ballots, and we had no evidence suggesting that the voter was ineligible to become a member.
• Because the ballot boxes contained 73 ballots, but poll workers added or checked-off only 68 names on the membership roster, the Election Committee reviewed the roster to match voter names on the envelopes to the names checked-off or added to the roster. We found the names of five members on the envelopes that were not checked-off of the roster. Thus, we accounted for the 73 cast ballots as valid votes.
Berkeley:
• No ballots challenged at polls.
• Two ballots challenged at tally by Election Committee on basis that the voters’ names on the outer envelopes were illegible. By examining the membership roster, we were able to identify the voters as members. Therefore, we deemed the ballots valid.
San Diego:
• One ballot challenged at polls by poll worker on basis that voter’s name did not appear on membership roster. The statewide Local 2865 office verified that this voter was a member in good standing, so we deemed this ballot valid.
• All ballots cast at San Diego on February 14 challenged at tally by Election Committee on basis that ballots lacked any envelopes. Because the number of number of ballots in the ballot box matched the number of names crossed-off and added to the membership roster, all cast ballots were accounted for on the ballot box verification form, and we found no other evidence of wrongdoing or negligence suggesting that these were not valid ballots, we deemed these ballots valid.
• All ballots cast at San Diego on February 15 challenged at tally by Election Committee on basis that (a) ballots lacked any envelopes, but Election Committee chair had requested prior to polling that poll worker use the double-envelope system if the San Diego Local 2865 office had these envelopes; and (b) the polling station was not properly noticed to the membership and challengers were not available to be present. Following an examination of the ballot box verification form, membership cards completed by new members, and membership roster, we deemed these ballots valid. The number of ballots in the ballot box matched the number of names crossed-off and added to the membership roster for February 15, and we found no clear evidence of negligence or wrongdoing that would suggest these were not valid ballots.


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