Oct 20, 2009 5:03 PM
Steve Brown , Bob Lederer , firstname.lastname@example.org, WBAI
Staff Notices , Bill Crosier , Yosh Yamanaka , Tracy Larkins , Ethan Young , "LES@PACIFICA"
Subject: WBAI ELECTION: Opportunity to View & Understand WBAI Membership List
To: Pacifica National Election Committee, Pacifica National Board, WBAI Local Station Board Members and Candidates, WBAI Staff & Stakeholders
From: Grace Aaron, Pacifica iED, LaVarn Williams, WBAI interim General Manager, Les Radke, National Election Supervisor, Ethan Young, WBAI Local Election Supervisor
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The WBAI Local Station Board election has encountered a major problem. The mailing sent out for the election was mistakenly sent to a WBAI membership list that was over 1 year old. Measures are being taken to rectify this mistake and proceed with the election. Details of this are below in an email sent out yesterday by Les Radke, National Election Supervisor.
In order to provide as much transparency as possible, Berthold Reimers, who is a database expert hired to investigate and resolve our membership database problems, will be available to those interested tomorrow evening, Wed., Oct. 20th
from 7 pm to 8:30 pm and again on Thursday evening, Oct. 21st
also from 7 pm to 8:30 pm to show anyone interested the membership database for WBAI being used for the election, how it works, how it is generated, etc.
Interim Executive Director of the Pacifica Foundation
National Election Supervisor
WBAI interim General Manager
WBAI Local Election Supervisor
From Les Radke, National Election Supervisor
WBAI Local Station Board Election Update
On behalf of Pacifica Radio, we would like to inform WBAI members and staff about the problems we have encountered in ensuring ballots are mailed to all eligible voters in the 2009 Local Station Board election.
Many WBAI members have received and returned their ballots. Many more informed us that their ballots never arrived. At the end of September 2009 the National Election Supervisor launched an investigation to sort out gaps and data errors in the lists used for ballot mailing.
Here are the results of that investigation:
- The list that was supplied by the WBAI office to the Pacifica National Election Supervisor, Les Radke, was more than a year old. The list included members for the period of September 1, 2006 to August 31, 2007. This list contained only names and addresses, and no other information (such as date or method of payment, or status as volunteer). As a result, the national election staff had to assume that the list was up to date they had no basis to judge otherwise.
- When the problems with ballot delivery came to light, the interim General Manager of WBAI, LaVarn Williams, hired an outside database expert, Berthold Reimers, to prepare a membership list of the proper time frame for the current election (July 16, 2008 to July 15, 2009).
- Mr. Reimers then obtained the mailing list sent to Mr. Radke and compared the 2 lists. The outdated list used for the ballot mailing contained almost 5,795 names and addresses of current members who are eligible to vote according to the Pacifica Bylaws. The list also contained 8,878 names and addresses of people who were members from July 2006 to July 2007, but whose membership has since lapsed and who are, thus, not eligible to vote in this election. Replacement ballots have already been mailed to over 1,300 members eligible to vote.
We are correcting the flaws in this very troubled election process:
1) A list has been prepared of current members eligible to vote in the 2009 Local Station Board election who have not already received ballots. Those members who already received ballots, who renewed their membership during the 2008-2009 period, remain eligible to vote and will not receive extra ballots. The same applies to those who have received either replacement ballots or were sent ballots in response to complaints to the Local Election Supervisor.
2) Those who received ballots, but shouldn't have because they did not renew their membership for the July 16, 2008-July 15, 2009 period will have their ballots invalidated electronically. Their votes will not count in this election.
3) A mailing of ballots to the more than 10,000 eligible voters who should have received ballots, but didn't, will be sent out by first class mail within 5 days.
4) The election will be extended until November 15th
to ensure that these members have ample time to review candidate information and mail in their ballots.
5) Website and on-air announcements will be made to ensure that eligible voters are made aware of the situation, when they can expect to receive their ballots, how to get candidate information, etc.
6) Members who requested the election mailing list be sent to a mailing house so that they could send out their own mailing to the membership will be given the option of having the updated mailing list sent to a mailing house of their choice. This list is composed of eligible members who never originally received ballots but may have received replacement ballots - those who were erroneously not included in the original ballot mailing.
All Pacifica Local Station Board ballot mailings were sent out by nonprofit bulk mail from Berkeley, CA. This is the least expensive mail rate available to Pacifica, but it is also slower, harder to organize, and less reliable than first class. Furthermore, it is not guaranteed by the United States Postal Service.
Pacifica chose bulk rate for one reason: cost. Nationally, a total of 72,000 ballots were mailed out. First class mailing would have cost more than 72 cents per ballot. Bulk mail cost 38 cents per ballot. Choosing bulk rate saved Pacifica more than $30,000 but greatly complicated the problems with ballot delivery.
A significant number of members who WERE mailed ballots, but complained of not having received their ballots led us to believe that mail delivery anomalies were due to Post Office delays. There have been significant post office delays in mailings to WBAI and WPFW members in Washington, D.C., even though there were no significant mailing list problems with WPFW. However, the volume of complaints from members complaining of not having received ballots in the WBAI election caused us to begin the investigation outlined above.
This is the best and only workable option for seeing through the WBAI LSB election. We cannot invalidate the election and start from scratch without disenfranchising those voters who were eligible to vote and who did mail in their ballots.
We very much regret the frustration and inconvenience caused by these errors. We are taking the measures necessary to proceed with this election in the fairest way possible and to the best of our ability.
For the Pacifica election campaign staff,
WBAI Local Election Supervisor
National Election Supervisor