by Doug Boyd
When I interviewed Don Ritchie on September 25, 2015, for the Nunn Center’s Interviewing the Interviewers oral history project, we spoke of many things regarding the history of the Oral History Association (https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/catalog/xt712j685w90). Among the many things discussed, Don recalled the debate regarding the OHA transition to the mail ballot for electing leadership. The rationale behind using the mail ballot was to broaden membership voting and be inclusive of engaged membership who were not able to attend the annual business meeting. A few years ago, OHA transitioned to electronic voting for electing leadership, once more updating our organizational methods to better meet the needs of our membership.
As you know, we are in the process of transitioning to a new institutional home (we are in the contract negotiation phase, and I hope to have an announcement soon). During this year of transition, we have taken the opportunity to scrutinize and update our administrative policies. Specifically, we have identified the need to update our constitution and bylaws in order to be a more nimble and more effective organization. Some of the changes include:
- Expanding OHA Council from four to five elected members.
- Changing “Institutional” membership to “Partner” membership.
- Making minor linguistic changes to allow the utilization of a co-director model for OHA leadership, rather than limiting OHA to a sole executive director.
- Formalizing standing committees.
We will communicate these changes in a more specific fashion in the next few weeks. However, as an organization, we can only make changes to the constitution with an in-person vote at the annual business meeting. For the same reasons that we transitioned to mail ballot and then to electronic voting for electing leadership, I am advocating that we empower the transition of all membership votes (including making changes to the constitution and bylaws) to electronic voting platforms.
The following is what we are proposing as a constitutional change to advocate for empowering electronic membership voting for changes to the constitution and bylaws.
Currently, our constitution reads:
Amendments to this constitution must be proposed in writing by at least ten members and filed with the executive director. Copies of the proposed amendments shall be sent by the executive director to all members at least thirty days in advance of the meeting at which they are to be considered. If approved by the Council, they may be adopted by a majority of the members attending any business meeting of the Association; if not so approved, a two-thirds vote of the members in attendance will be required.
We are proposing the following:
Amendments to this constitution must be proposed in writing by at least ten members and filed with the executive director. Copies of the proposed amendments shall be sent by the executive director to all members of council at least 60 days prior to the annual meeting. If approved by the Council, proposed amendments may be adopted by a majority of the members voting. Voting on constitutional amendment(s) will be done electronically. Amendment(s) approved by Council must be presented to the membership at least 30 days prior to the annual meeting. Discussion of the amendment(s) will take place at the business meeting. A transcript of the discussion on the constitutional amendment(s) together with a ballot shall be sent to the membership no later than ten days after the close of the business meeting. Members will then have 30 days to cast their ballot. If Council rejects a proposed amendment, a vote can take place at the business meeting to authorize a membership vote on the proposed amendment. A 2/3rds majority vote is required at the business meeting in order to authorize a vote on a proposed amendment that has been rejected by Council. A proposed amendment that has been rejected by Council must then be approved by a 2/3rds majority membership vote following a 30-day discussion period in order to be approved.
If approved at this year’s business meeting, I believe that this change will enable our organization to be more nimble, dynamic, inclusive, and effective. I am looking forward to seeing you all in October.