Guest Blogger: David Beer, International Policing Advisor, Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
For me and for others, a highlight of the IACP annual conference is the election of officers and voting on constitutional issues. Unfortunately, the percentage of conference attendees who actually vote is disturbingly low. This raises questions about the governance of elections and voting. Hoping to reinvigorate the process, an ad hoc Elections Committee was assembled to examine the situation and make recommendations.
Immediately, a number of key issues emerged:
- An automatic ascension for presidential candidates, which would eliminate the year-after-year election of vice presidential candidates ascending to the presidency
- The procedure for voting on constitutional amendments
- The requirement to attend the annual conference in order to vote
From these questions sprang myriad others concerning ethics, custom, tradition, need, and opportunity.
For all IACP members whose attendance at the annual conference is not always possible, the most important issue may be the requirement—or possible lack thereof—to be in attendance at the annual conference in order to vote. This is particularly, but not uniquely, relevant to members of the International Policing Division.
Needless to say, there has been spirited discussion on the requirement for attendance to vote, and the implications for changes and opinions are many and varied.
I, for one, have come down squarely on the side for change in the election process and procedure. Where we know there is no correlation between election attendance and voting habits, and where we should encourage members to be engaged in their association, members should not be denied the opportunity to vote merely because they are unable—for whatever reason—to attend the conference.
In the 21st century, where the technology exists to facilitate electronic voting globally, I am in favor. Are there questions of transparency and accountability to be addressed? Absolutely. Will we need new rules for election campaigning? No doubt. But as the IACP strategic plan emphasizes global strategies to increasing membership, organizational impact, and the organization’s relevance to the individual member, perhaps nothing is more important than giving people a “voice.”
The work of the Elections Committee is important to the long-term growth and health of the organization. I urge you to consider the issues, ask questions, and form opinions. It will be a hot topic at this year’s conference and into the future, one can be certain. When the time comes to consider change, vote as you please, but please vote!
Make sure IACP 2011, October 22–26, is on your calendar. For information, to register, and to secure housing, visit http://www.theiacpconference.org.