Jan 13, 2010

One Member, One Vote: OMOV

A discussion has begun on the USCF Issues Forum suggesting that One Member, One Vote ("OMOV") is the problem underlying most if not all of the USCF's woes at present.  What OMOV means in the USCF is who will elect the seven members of the Executive Board.  The issue is important.  The change desired by some, and the system of election to which the opponents of OMOV suggest the USCF should return, is one in which the delegates (plus likely a few other influential members, such as past Presidents) would elect the Executive Board members.  The argument runs that only in this way will the Executive Board be responsive to the delegates and will the multi-million dollar USCF have proper oversight.  The opponents to OMOV point to a small voter turnout in the last election, for example, to show that the USCF membership is apathetic and only the delegates are properly informed to make the EB member choices.  (4,000 + members voted.)  Moreover, if the EB members know who's the boss, they'll act right.  I have a few points to make here:

1.  Some of the finest USCF members in the history of the Federation have been and are tireless delegates.
2.  A substantial number of delegates aren't involved in USCF governance.
3.  An active and competent Executive Board is critical to the USCF's success.
4.  There is a weak cause and effect connection between OMOV and any of the USCF's present problems.
5.  The USCF's future health will be directly related to the efforts made by all of its leaders and members.
6.  The overstated downside of delegate elections is that chess insiders will govern the USCF with their interests foremost in mind.
7.  The overstated downside of member elections is that the elections will turn into popularity contests resulting in bad choices. 
8.  The delegates have a constituency of local members to whom they owe a modicum of service. 
9.  The members should take an hour or two out of their year to listen to their delegates, tell their delegates what they think, inform themselves to their own satisfaction on the candidates, and vote for the Executive Board members with the interests of U.S. chess in mind. 
10.  An informed membership engaged briefly (by voting) will go further toward improving the USCF than any other single measure. Put simply, the USCF will benefit enormously by a modest increase in informed voter turnout. 
11.  The delegates are critical to informing the membership.
12.  The USCF needs some level of governance overhaul, but the answer is probably not to be found in taking the members' right to vote for the Executive Board.

This summer three candidates will appear on the ballot to fill two vacant seats on the Executive Board.  I wish there were more candidates.  I am one of the three, with Mike Nietman and Sam Sloan being the other two.  The five already on the Executive Board appear to me to be good, competent people.  Look for your ballot prior to June, I believe, and when you get it, if you haven't already, take a small amount of time to inform your choice and vote

I will post time to time here on this blog on this issue between now and the vote this summer.  If you'd like to know more, and I can appreciate that you may not, sign into the USCF Issues Forum on the USCF website.  You need only be a member.  Be prepared for a substantial amount of crap on the Forum, but if you cut to the chase, you'll find the debate laid out well from every perspective.

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