The ATA Chronicle - September/October 2020 - 18

DISCUSSION ON TWO PROPOSED BYLAWS AMENDMENTS continued
to seek candidates who do not have any
Board experience, finding eligible outside
candidates who have the necessary
experience, abilities, and knowledge to
step into high-profile officer positions
involving significant amounts of volunteer
time is very rare.
As a result, the proposed resolution
mandating multiple candidates forces
the committee to potentially nominate
candidates without Board experience,
persons who may not have the time or
skills to take on additional responsibilities,
or who may simply accept the nomination
with the intention to lose, which does
not serve the membership or the Board
member in question.
Moreover, our experience as
committee chairs has shown that
losing candidates are less likely to run
again or increase their involvement
in the Association's affairs. Putting
yourself in the spotlight of an election
can be a harrowing experience that is
quite different than the experience of
actually governing. As a result, talented
candidates with excellent administrative
skills may be scared off from repeating
the experience. This does not serve
the Association's interest in developing
stable and competent leadership.
Ironically, the proposed resolution
puts more power in the hands of
the Nominating and Leadership
Development Committee vis-à-vis the
membership. ATA's Bylaws include a
petition process that allows a member
to be added to the slate by collecting
the signatures of 60 voting members. In
the case of the officer positions, if the
committee is forced to put forward two
or more candidates for each position,
this significantly dilutes the chance of a
petitioning candidate from achieving a
clear majority of the votes cast. A threeway race can easily result in a so-called
"false majority," which can undermine
confidence and trust in the system and
the officers in question.
Although the committee tries to focus
on the candidate's skills rather than
their stance on any particular issue, a
more politically-minded committee in
the future could also rig the slate with
their preferred candidate and another
candidate who has agreed to lose in
order for the committee to achieve its
18

The ATA Chronicle | September/October 2020

ATA still maintains a flexible
approach of encouraging the
nomination of multiple directors
and officers, as well as a petition
option to ensure that any member
has a path to the Board.

aims. This is one of the reasons why the
leading parliamentary authority, Robert's
Rules of Order, does not recommend
mandating multiple candidates.1
Lastly, the resolution has no
enforcement procedure. If the committee
is unable to find a second candidate
for a given position, what then? Is the
ballot not valid? Is there no election until
another candidate steps forward? Does
it put legal liability on the committee
members? These are additional
challenges that need to be considered
when applying such a permanent change
through the Bylaws.
ATA operates as a nonprofit organization
and not as a public utility, governmental
office, or labor union. It is subject to
different laws and customs. Within the
world of association governance, using
single officer candidates is considered
best practice, although opinions and
arrangements can vary widely among
different associations.2
Nevertheless, ATA still maintains a
flexible approach of encouraging the
nomination of multiple directors and
officers, as well as a petition option to
ensure that any member has a path to
the Board. This allows the Nominating
and Leadership Development Committee
to identify and put forward the best
possible candidates with the right skills,
experience, and energy to ensure that the
Association runs smoothly and efficiently
in the face of financial, technological, and
legislative changes in the translation and
interpreting world.
The committee is very aware of
the membership's desire for multiple
candidates and will certainly make
every effort to propose appropriate
multiple candidates, even for officers.

The committee is not opposed to having
multiple candidates on the slate, and has
done so in the past, but it is simply not
always possible to achieve. Mandating a
relatively permanent requirement through
the Bylaws in the interest of having
"multiple viewpoints"-which is not
necessarily guaranteed or something that
the committee considers-creates far more
potential problems than it does solutions.
While the proposed resolution may be
well intentioned in the present, it is not
considered best practice and may prove to
be detrimental to the good governance of
the Association in the future. We strongly
recommend voting against the resolution
mandating multiple candidates for officer
positions and staying with the existing
elections policy, which has served ATA
well over the years.
NOTES
1	
Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised
(11th edition, page 433, lines 22-28):
"Although it is not common for the
nominating committee to nominate more
than one candidate for any office, the
nominating committee can do so unless the
bylaws prohibit it. It is usually not sound to
require the committee to nominate more
than one candidate for each office, since
the committee can easily circumvent such
a provision by nominating only one person
who has any chance of being elected."
2	

"Building Better Association Boards
Advancing Performance through
Nomination, Recruitment, and Selection
Processes." (American Society of
Association Executives, page 6): "Officer
elections holding noncompetitive
elections for officers is considered a
leading practice. Having either the
nominating committee or the board do
the vetting reduces the likelihood that
unselected members in competitive
elections become disengaged, and
also results in a competency-based
system. In noncompetitive elections,
the leadership slates officers based on
alignment of competencies with desired
strategic needs. Officer positions are
filled by someone who has recently sat
on the board, commonly current board
members." See: http://bit.ly/ASAE-boards.
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The ATA Chronicle - September/October 2020

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