SDEA Violations of the Standing Rules during the 2013 Internal Election

A version of this document was presented to the SDEA Board at their meeting on April 10, 2013.

SR 9.1.A.4 (Election Committee) The Elections Committee is charged with ensuring that elections are conducted in a fair and impartial manner.

The Elections Committee has made many, many “mistakes” over the course of the Spring 2013, and every SINGLE mistake has been in favor of the incumbent SDEA leadership and against the candidates running as the part of the Breakfast Club union reform slate.  Given the egregious number of Standing Rules violations and that these violations ALL favor SDEA Board members (who hand-picked members of the Elections Committee) or candidates affiliated with SDEA Board members and the Election Committee members, the Election Committee has clearly not conducted our elections in a fair and impartial manner.

SR 9.1.D.1 (Timeline) Schools on alternative calendars shall be considered when setting election timelines.

Creating a voting window during Spring Break while all year-round teachers are on vacation is a violation of both the Standing Rules and common sense.  Why unnecessarily disenfranchise such a large number of our members?  Mailing ballots to the homes of over 7,000 members is much more expensive than having them delivered to our work sites when everyone is back at work.

SR 9.1.E.3 (Procedures) Candidates will receive confirmation from the SDEA office that their Declaration form has been received either by email, US mail, or a written receipt when hand delivered.

Several candidates hand delivered their Declaration of Candidacy forms to SDEA before the stated deadline and when they asked for a receipt, they were told that receipts are not given out.  Aside from this being a violation of our Standing Rules, because of this lax election oversight it wasn’t until the following day that anyone at SDEA realized a candidate, Stephanie Marble, had turned in the wrong form at which point they sent her an email telling the her to submit proof that she had turned in the Declaration or she would be removed from the ballot.  And then they removed her from the ballot (read full report HERE).  If the Standing Rules had been followed, this would not have happened.

SR 9.1.H.2.c.7 [Note: The numbering may be incorrect on the SDEA website.] (Voting Methods and Distribution of Ballots) At the time of counting, prior to opening, the names on the outer envelopes shall be checked against the official list of eligible voting members.  The list and envelope shall be marked to show that the voter has returned a ballot and that the envelope has been checked.

The Elections Committee can absolutely check the official list of eligible voters to see which teachers from Perkins voted and if these votes could have affected the outcome of the election. In recommending that the SDEA Board vote to uphold both March Capitelli’s and Lindsay Burningham’s challenges, the Elections Committee did not check to see how many voters from Perkins had actually voted. In fact, Nieto stated that she could not check that number because it was “confidential” — a statement that is not supported by the Standing Rules.

SR 9.1.H.2.c.8 [Note: The numbering may be incorrect on the SDEA website.] (Voting Methods and Distribution of Ballots) The outer envelopes shall then be opened and put in a separate stack for safekeeping as a record of voters.

In addition to referencing the list of eligible voters that was marked to show which voters have returned ballots, the Elections Committee can also refer to the outer envelopes to see how many Perkins teachers voted. The envelopes are required to be kept so that our union DOES have a record of who voted in case that information is needed at a later date, like now, when election challenges are filed.

SR 9.1.I (Vote Requirement) All vote requirements shall be established in accordance with CTA guidelines.  Unless otherwise specified, all elections shall be decided by majority vote.  Write-in votes are valid and must be counted.

Write-in votes for Stephanie Marble in which the voter did not fill in the corresponding bubble were inaccurately classified as illegal votes and were not counted.

SR 9.1.I.1 (Vote Requirement) A majority vote means more than half of the legal votes cast.

More than half is any quantity greater than fifty percent.  However, the EC used the formula of “50% + 1” to calculate the total number of votes needed to win by a majority vote.  Even without including the valid write-in votes that the EC mislabelled as “illegal”, Stephanie Marble still received 50.6% of the vote which is “more than half of the legal votes cast”.  Yet the EC failed to declare her the winner and are requiring a run-off election.  Additionally, even when applying the “50% + 1” formula to calculate the total votes required to win by a majority, the math was done incorrectly in the race between Elizabeth Algren and Monique Anderson for SDEA Board Seat 1.

SR 9.1.I.4 (Vote Requirement) For unit officers, the election will be by majority.

Stephanie Marble received over fifty percent of the vote, thereby winning by majority.  EC did not declare her the winner by majority.

SR 9.1.I.6 (Vote Requirement) If a candidate does not receive a majority vote, a run-off election shall be conducted among the candidates receiving the highest number of votes…

As Stephanie Marble DID receive a majority vote, SDEA should not be holding a run-off election for Board Seat 8. The run-off itself violates the Standing Rules.

SR 9.1.J.4.b (Counting of Ballots) Blank and/or illegal ballots for each office/position shall be set aside.  Examples include the following: Voter’s intent unclear; 

The Election Committee improperly categorized write-in ballots as “illegal” if the voter did not fill in the corresponding bubble, completely disregarding the clear intent of the voter.

SR 9.1.J.6 (Counting of Ballots) The Elections Committee should categorize each illegal ballot, make a determination of whether the vote(s) in that category should be counted separately, as listed in 4 above, and make a note of the decision.  The ballots should remain separate.

There are no notes detailing why write-in ballots for Stephanie Marble were categorized as “illegal” even though the voter’s intent was clear.

SR 9.1.J.7 (Counting of Ballots) The Election Committee will prepare the Teller’s Report, recording information on the total number of votes cast, the number needed to win/pass, the number of votes received by each candidate/issue and the number of blank and illegal ballots for each office/position with an explanation of illegality, and signed by each Elections Committee member.  

The Teller’s report did not include the explanations for why write-in votes, where the voter intention is clear, were declared illegal.

SR 9.1.J.8 (Counting of Ballots) The Chairperson of the Elections Committee will deliver the report of the election results to the president and the interested parties. 

Stephanie Marble and Shane Parmely were  both candidates in the election and thus both interested parties. They attended the counting of the ballots, but were both denied the results of the election after the ballots were finished being counted.  The Election Committee Co-Chairs said that they had given the results to SDEA President Bill Freeman and that he would be calling candidates the next day to notify them of the results.  When Parmely asked why it was okay for them to tell her the results after the last election (which they did), but it was not okay now, Election Committee Co-Chair Kandi Nieto said that Freeman told them they weren’t supposed to tell members the results last time either and that they shouldn’t tell her this time.  This contradicts our Standing Rules.

SR 9.1.K.4 (Challenge Procedure) Upon receipt of the challenge, the Elections Committee will notify all the candidates in the election being challenged that a challenge has been filed. 

Candidates were NOT notified upon receipt of the challenge.  Apparently, there have been multiple challenges filed and no one was notified upon the Election Committee’s receipt of the challenge.  Candidate Emily Neidhart was notified a couple of hours before the Board was set to meet and discuss the challenge to her seat, even though the meeting to discuss the issue of the challenge had been confirmed the previous day which is when current Vice President Lindsay Burningham would have been notified of the meeting. Candidate Nancy Dosick was never notifed that her seat was challenged, and the Board voted to overturn her victory without her ever being notified or having a chance to respond or attend the meeting.

SR 9.1.K.4.d Within ten (10) calendar days after receipt of the challenge, SDEA’s Elections Committee shall, in accordance with the unit’s bylaws and standing rules, conduct an investigation whether or not the challenge: Identify violation(s) that may have affected the outcome of the election

If the violation could not have affected the outcome of the election, then the challenge should be dismissed.  The only possible elections that the email sent by Carter Anderson (the evidence the Board used to uphold the challenge for both Neidhart and Dosick’s seats) could have affected were for SDEA Board Seat 4, and CTA Seats 4, 5, and 15, as these are the only seats voted on by teachers at Perkins.  Any other challenges referencing this email should be immediately dismissed. Also, if the Elections Committee conducted an investigation, it must have been very cursory, as none of the candidates nor the sender of the challenged email were ever contacted to be interviewed regarding their knowledge of the email or any of the circumstances surrounding its sending.

Anderson wrote a letter describing what happened while she campaigned for the Breakfast Club slate.  From her comments, it is clear that her email did not affect the way teachers at her site voted as no one could even find the original email that she sent.  It was her face-to-face interactions with people at her site that motivated them to vote.  Additionally, another teacher at her site was actively campaigning for non Breakfast Club candidates and was even helping people fill out their ballots in the lunch room.  Clearly, Anderson’s long-forgotten email was not a deciding factor in how anyone at Perkins voted. But at no point during their “investigation” did the Elections Committee ever interview (or attempt to contact) Anderson about her email.

Alternately, it is possible to mathematical determine whether or not teachers at Perkins were the determining factor in any election.  The Elections Committee has a record of each member who voted.  Even assuming that all votes from Perkins teachers went to the Breakfast Club candidates (which we know is untrue because people were publically voting against Breakfast Club candidates), by subtracting the total number of Perkins votes from the total votes received by the winning Breakfast Club candidate, it can be determined whether or not the email “affected the outcome of the election.”  Not only would this save our union thousands of dollars, it would also save dozens of volunteer hours by the Election Committee.

SR 9.1.K.5 Any member of the Board of Directors who was a candidate on the ballot, or whose immediate family member is a candidate on the ballot, shall abstain from voting on the report.  If in the case where the majority of the Board of Directors is unable to act on the challenge the decision shall move to the next highest decision making body according to the unit’s governance documents.

Nine Board members were on the ballot:  Michelle Sanchez, Elizabeth Ahlgren, Scott Mullin, Iris Anderson, Dennis Schamp, Kristen Brown, Erin Kole, Claudia Weimer, and Lindsay Burningham.  This means that none of them are allowed to, or should have been allowed to, vote on any challenges.  This also leaves less than a majority of Board members to make a decision and all challenges should be referred to CTA.

In conclusion, it is clear from the above violations that the pending election challenges should either be dismissed and/or that this matter be referred to CTA.

4 thoughts on “SDEA Violations of the Standing Rules during the 2013 Internal Election

  1. Pingback: NEW: Explaining the Email Heard Round the World | The Breakfast Club Action Group

  2. Pingback: NEW: SDEA Board Overturns Another Breakfast Club Election Victory, Endorses Kevin Beiser | The Breakfast Club Action Group

  3. Pingback: NEW: Freeman’s Majority Slipping, BARELY Passes Resolution Praising Work of Election Committee | The Breakfast Club Action Group

  4. Pingback: NEW: Laaaaaast Caaaaaall for the SDEA Election! | The Breakfast Club Action Group

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