Voting Privileges

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Participation in Committees by IHE Member Organizations is open and voluntary, but participants must take part regularly in committee meetings and teleconferences and perform committee assignments.

Each IHE Member Organization with Voting Privileges may cast one vote and counts as one towards quorum. Normally, the member's Primary representative on the committee casts the vote, but if they are absent, one of the member's alternates may vote.


Voting Privileges are based on the Roster Role and attendance of the Member Organization for each committee.

Briefly:

  • When joining a committee, IHE Member Organizations are granted Voting Privileges at the start of their second consecutive meeting.
  • If no primary or alternate representatives of an IHE Member are present for three consecutive meetings where a vote is taken, their privileges are suspended and they no longer count toward quorum.
  • IHE Members voting privileges are re-instated upon attending their second consecutive meeting.
  • An email ballot counts as a meeting.


Attendance and Voting Privileges FAQ

Q. What causes my voting privileges to lapse?

Missing three meetings in a row.

Q. How do I get them back?

Attend two meetings in a row. You may vote at the second meeting.

So if you skip three meetings then attend two, then out of those five meetings you will not have voting privileges at one of them (#4). You will have had voting privileges at four of the meetings. Of course you chose not to show up for three of them, but you had privileges.

Q. What if I skip every other meeting?

You will have voting privileges at every meeting.

Q. What if I carefully attend only every third meeting?

You will have voting privileges at every meeting.

Q. What about the other person from my company?

Attendance/Privileges are by member organization. If either of you attend, you both get credit.

So you could attend only 1 meeting in 6 and your partner could attend only 1 meeting in 6 and, if you choose your meetings carefully, still not have any lapse in voting privileges.

Alternatively, you could attend relatively regularly and your partner only substitutes for you once per year, and since your organization has voting privileges and they are designated as an alternate, they can vote.

Q. What if I can't attend any face to face meetings?

If you attend T-Cons, you will have no lapse in privileges unless three consecutive meetings are face-to-face and you miss them all.

I would suggest that a 3-day face-to-face be logged as a single meeting, and as long as you're there for part of it, you get credit.

Q. What does lapse of privileges prevent me from doing?

Voting.

You are allowed to attend meetings (and if you can do that twice in a row, you have your privileges back), you can contribute to discussions, work on documents, advocate for issues which may be put to a vote. But when an issue is put to a vote, you are effectively an unrecorded abstention.

Q. What if we don't have quorum at a meeting?

You can't take votes, so decisions requiring a vote have to be deferred to another meeting (or to an email ballot) since the bulk of the committee is not present.

Fortunately this won't go on for long since each deferral likely drops a few people from quorum. A decision required a vote (even if it couldn't be taken because of quorum), so those not present have a missed meeting.

The same thing goes for an email ballot. If quorum is not reached, the decision must be deferred to another ballot or meeting.

Q. What counts as a meeting?

Meetings (either face-to-face, T-Con or WebEx) where a decision requires a vote (whether or not quorum is present) count. Email ballots count (so don't forget to vote).


There is open discussion on whether a meeting where no decision is required (either because none was planned, or because nothing happened to come up) should count. There is a proposal to have some things designated as "Discussion Calls" rather than "Meetings" and that they not count toward attendance. The idea is that the committee will spend time discussing topics that are only of interest to a minority of committee members and the majority should not be logged as missing a meeting for not attending.

There is also an open discussion on whether approval of minutes should be considered a decision requiring a vote in all cases. Of course it is necessary when competitors are collaborating to have a proper minutes taking process as part of avoiding anti-trust issues, as Charles pointed out on the call. So we'll need to figure out what can be done.

Q. What if I submit an email ballot when my Voting Privileges have been suspended?

The Secretariat is responsible for checking all ballot submitters against the current roster and voting privilege status.

Since your voting privileges are suspended, your ballot is not counted towards the result or quorum.

Your attempt to participate is, however, recorded on the roster in parentheses "(+)", and counts towards regaining your voting privileges. If you also participated in the immediately prior meeting, this would constitute your second consecutive participation and your ballot would count towards the result and quorum.

Q. What about voting by proxy?

There was some discussion of this topic but the decision was not to go into much detail on this yet in the governance document.

My personal feeling is that since voting issues will often (hopefully) be listed on the advance agenda, a member who cannot attend the meeting may send an email to the committee secretary and chair with their opinion and vote. I think this should be allowed and should be listed as "proxy" on the attendance and should count as attending. This could be useful for active participants for whom the meeting time is in the middle of the night, or who has a conflict.

Another approach would be for someone who can't attend to give a "blank ballot" proxy to another attendee from another member organization to decide & vote on their behalf. This has not been specifically permitted. There was concern about possible abuse and the member is not really participating.

Q. Are these rules immutable?

No. If you think there is a problem (and hopefully if you have a suggestion for something better), inform the IHE Board (formerly the Strategic Development Committee) either directly or through your co-chair. The Board can revise the Governance document (and already has a pile of issues to work through).

Secondly, the Governance document allows some latitude for committees to define variations/extensions to the rules. This also needs to be run by the Board, but can be useful if there is are special situations that don't warrant changing the rules for everyone.

Q. What about difficulty attending due to time zones?

We certainly want to have participation from as many interested people as possible. Due to the span of time zones people are in this can certainly be difficult. Similarly, face-to-face meetings are most often held in close proximity to the organization that is sponsoring them and there have been calls to hold some of these meetings occasionally in other geographical areas.

Maybe we should not count a missed meeting against a participant for whom the meeting was between 11pm and 7am or on a weekend? Or maybe we should rotate meeting times so that no one has three consecutive meetings in that slot? I don't have any great answers for this one.


Abstention FAQ

Q. How does it affect quorum when a member organization abstains?

The member organization is represented and contributes to meeting quorum, which allows votes to be taken.

If the member organization chooses to abstain from any given vote, it still contributes to quorum.

Q. How does it affect "majority" when a member organization abstains?

The member has abstained from voting (i.e. chosen not to vote), so it does not count as a "yeah", it does not count as a "nay" and it does not contribute to the number of votes (i.e. the denominator for calculating the majority).

So if there are 4 voting members and two vote "yeah", one votes "nay" and one abstains, the proposal would pass with a 66% majority (two out of the three votes cast being "yeah").

Q. So abstentions are completely ignored?

No. Abstentions should be recorded in the minutes along with the votes.

Annecdotally, members who simply don't care about an issue often vote in favour. Abstentions often indicate members feel conflicted or lacking information about the issue or are otherwise reluctant to take a position. A vote with a high proportion of abstentions is valid, but perhaps worth the time to explore and consider the reasons for all the abstentions.