Single Transferable Voting FAQ
What is the Local Station Board (LSB)?
Do LSB members need to know something about running a radio station?
How many members are there on the Local Station Board?
What voting method is used to elect so many seats at a time?
What is the “term of office” for an LSB member?
What is the time commitment of serving on the board?
Are LSB Members paid for their time?
How is diversity on the boards to be promoted?
What are the powers and responsibilities of the Local Station Board?
Are there any other powers and responsibilities of the Local Station Board?
What is the relationship between the LSB and the Pacifica National Board (PNB)?
Each of Pacifica’s five radio stations has its own elected Local Station Board (LSB), which has two distinct roles:
(a) the LSB is a standing committee of the Pacifica National Board (PNB), with specific duties and responsibilities related to the station, as outlined in Article 7 of the Pacifica Bylaws.
(b) LSB members also serve, simultaneously, as “delegates”, representing station members in the annual election of Directors to serve on the PNB and to carry out other related duties, such as voting on proposed bylaws amendments.
No. The bylaws do not require any special qualifications and the LSB is not involved with station operations or programming decisions.
LSB responsibilities outlined in the Pacifica bylaws require a broad skillset, and include: approving and monitoring the annual budgets, evaluating the General Manager and Program Director and, when needed, to conduct a search for candidates for these positions. The LSB’s are also asked to assist station staff with fundraising and provide general guidance to ensure that the station meets community needs.
24 in total - 18 listener-members and 6 staff-members (paid and unpaid). Each group is elected by their respective class of members.
The bylaws specify a system of ballot tabulation known as the Single Transferable Vote (STV). This system is promoted by advocates for democracy throughout the world as an effective tool to provide proportional representation of diverse viewpoints. It ensures that even if a voter’s first choice does not receive enough votes to win a seat, that voter’s 2nd, 3rd, 4th (etc) preferences can help elect a backup choice to represent them on the LSB.
A separate FAQ explaining STV is available here.
Three years. The bylaws also provide term limits, prohibiting any individual from serving more than six years consecutively.
The Pacifica bylaws require LSB elections two years in a row, followed by one year off. Half of each class of seats comes up for election at a time. Thus, the 2012 elections will elect 9 listener members and 6 staff members. Future elections are planned for 2013, followed by on “off-year” in 2014 when the cycle repeats, with elections in 2015, 2016, (not 2017) etc.
It’s hard to say exactly, but most LSBs meet once per month; and members usually also serve on committees of the LSB and the National Board, in person or by conference call.
No. The bylaws only allow LSB members to receive reimbursements or advances to cover reasonable (approved) expenses incurred in the performance of their regular duties.
Diversity is dependent on recruitment of candidates and the will of the voters. The bylaws do, however, call for the creation of “committees of inclusion” to monitor diversity in station staffing, programming, and elections.
Article 7, Section 3 of the Pacifica Bylaws states:
Each LSB, acting as a standing committee of the Foundation's Board of Directors, shall have the following powers, duties and responsibilities related to its specific radio station, under the direction and supervision of the Foundation's Board of Directors:
A. To review and approve that station's budget and make quarterly reports to the Foundation's Board of Directors regarding the station's budget, actual income and expenditures.
B. To screen and select a pool of candidates for the position of General Manager of its respective radio station, from which pool of approved candidates the Executive Director shall hire the station's General Manager. The LSB may appoint a special sub-committee for this purpose.
C. To prepare an annual written evaluation of the station's General Manager.
D. Both the Executive Director and/or an LSB may initiate the process to fire a station General Manager. However, to effectuate it, both the Executive Director and the LSB must agree to fire said General Manager. If the Executive Director and the LSB cannot agree, the decision to terminate or retain said General Manager shall be made by the Board of Directors.
E. To screen and select a pool of candidates for the position of station Program Director, from which pool of approved candidates the station's General Manager shall hire the station's Program Director. The LSB may appoint a special sub-committee for this purpose.
F. To prepare an annual written evaluation of the station's Program Director.
G. To work with station management to ensure that station programming fulfills the purposes of the Foundation and is responsive to the diverse needs of the listeners (demographic) and communities (geographic) served by the station, and that station policies and procedures for making programming decisions and for program evaluation are working in a fair, collaborative and respectful manner to provide quality programming.
H. To conduct "Town Hall" style meetings at least twice a year, devoted to hearing listeners views, needs and concerns.
I. To assist in station fundraising activities.
J. To actively reach out to underrepresented communities to help the station serve a diversity of all races, creeds, colors and nations, classes, genders and sexual orientations, and ages and to help build collaborative relations with organizations working for similar purposes.
K. To perform community needs assessments, or see to it that separate "Community Advisory Committees" are formed to do so.
L. To ensure that the station works diligently towards the goal of diversity in staffing at all levels and maintenance of a discrimination-free atmosphere in the workplace.
M. To exercise all of its powers and duties with care, loyalty, diligence and sound business judgment consistent with the manner in which those terms are generally defined under applicable California law.
Article 7, Section 4 of the Pacifica Bylaws addresses this question as follows:
By resolution, the Foundation's Board of Directors may delegate any other corporate powers it deems appropriate to an LSB with regard to that specific radio station. Any such power delegated to an LSB is subject to revocation at any time by the Board of Directors. Any and all actions, resolutions and policies taken or adopted by an LSB may be overridden by a majority vote of the Directors if said action, resolution or policy is found by the Board of Directors to be adverse to the mission and/or charitable or business purposes of the Foundation, to exceed the power or authority granted to said LSB or to be inconsistent with these Bylaws, the Articles or applicable laws and regulations.
The PNB is the governing body for Pacifica, providing oversight and guidance to Pacifica’s Executive Director and the entire Foundation, focusing on policies relevant to all Pacifica stations. LSB members from each station are asked to serve on and assist with the work of most PNB committees, including Finance, Programming, Governance, Elections, etc.
As a standing committee of the PNB, the LSB’s carry out the specified duties relating to the station General Manager and the station.
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Is an STV election really different than most elections?
Why is proportional representation better for electing a representative board than common winner-take-all elections?
What does Choice Voting (STV) accomplish?
How does STV work?
What will the ballot look like?
What if I only like one or a few candidates?
Will ranking alternate candidates hurt the chances of my favorite candidate?
Can I give the same ranking to several candidates if I like them equally well?
Is this a standard voting method? Where else is it used?
Why did most U.S. cities that adopted it discontinue using it?
Yes. The Pacifica elections for Local Station Boards use a system of counting votes known as “Single Transferable Vote” (STV), or “Choice Voting”, which provides for proportional representation that is very different from “winner take all” systems that are common in most elections.
Under winner-take-all voting systems, the majority has the potential to elect every single seat on the board, which leaves minority viewpoints unrepresented. This is not possible under proportional representation. All significant (self-defined) minority groups have the chance to elect a share of seats proportionate to their share of support among the voters.
STV allows electors to vote for their preferred candidates knowing that their vote will transfer if that candidate cannot win; thus, eliminating the need for voting for a less favored candidate because they have more chance of winning.
The single transferable vote gives freedom of choice to electors and ensures, as far as possible, that their preference is satisfied and not distorted or frustrated.
Each voter has a single vote, but that vote may end up being divided into fractions of a vote that help elect more than one candidate.
Voters indicate their preferences for candidates by ranking them (1st choice, 2nd choice, etc.). A voter’s alternate rankings can be thought of as backup or contingency choices to make sure a member’s vote isn’t wasted on a sure winner who has a surplus of votes, or a sure loser, who can’t possibly win.
Initially, only the voter’s first choice is counted. Only if that first-choice candidate has more than enough votes to win, or if that candidate has so little support that he or she can’t win, will a ballot count towards the election of a lower preference.
The details are spelled out in Article 15, Section 1 of the Pacifica Bylaws, as summarized:
1. First a ‘winning threshold’ is calculated as:
[(the total number of valid ballots cast) ÷ (1 + the number of seats to be filled)] + 1
This is the minimum number of votes a candidate needs to get elected. Any candidates who have enough first choice votes to reach the winning threshold are declared elected.
2. If a candidate receives more votes than needed to win a seat, the “surplus” portion of each vote in a winning candidate’s pile is transferred to each of those voters’ next preference candidate so that each vote is fully used.
3. If there are still unfilled places after the first preferences have been dealt with and any surpluses transferred, then the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated and voters who favored that candidate have their votes transferred to the voters’ second preferences. Any candidate who now has more than the winning threshold is declared elected.
4. This process continues until all of the seats are filled.
Next to each candidate’s name, the voter will see an array of boxes under numbered column headings. To indicate their 1st choice, they will mark the box under the heading “1”; for the 2nd choice, they will mark the box in column “2”, etc.
Each voter can express as many preferences as they desire - from just one, up to as many as there are candidates running for election.
However - a vote for single candidate, or only a few, may be wasted if that (or those) candidate(s) either have enough support from others to win a seat – or have so little support that she or he cannot win a seat. For this reason, the best strategy is always for the voter to rank as many candidates as they have an opinion about.
No. Ranking additional choices cannot hurt your favorite candidate. These are just contingency choices, in case your favorite candidate already has enough support to win a seat or has no chance of winning.
Yes. If you give the same ranking to several candidates, your vote will simply be divided equally among those candidates.
Choice Voting (STV) has been used for over a hundred years in thousands of elections for both governments and numerous private associations. It is currently used to elect the national legislature in Ireland, and the Senate in Australia.
Cambridge, Massachusetts has used STV to elect its city council and school committee since the 1940s. At one time, STV was used by over 20 cities in the United States, including New York City at the time of Mayor LaGuardia.
In most cases, proportional representation was repealed because it worked exactly as intended. It allowed full diversity on city councils, including racial minorities and third party candidates. The dominant groups in these cities were eventually convinced to repeal proportional representation so that the majority could again exclude minorities.