‘Getting Out the Vote’ Through Electronic Balloting
I have exciting plans to share with you regarding the 2005 IFT leadership election. For the first time, IFT members will vote on-line. This move to electronic balloting responds to changing times and requests from some of you. “E-balloting” serves at least two goals I have emphasized during my term: Enhancing communication, and reaching out to our members around the globe. From May 1, 2005 through June 1, 2005, IFT members may cast their ballots from any Internet-connected computer anywhere in the world.
On-line voting for President-Elect, Membership Representatives to the Executive Committee, and Councilor Representatives to the Executive Committee was approved by the Executive Committee in October 2004. Efforts to streamline IFT election processes had already begun with a series of procedural revisions and constitutional amendments recommended by the Task Force on Leadership Development (2003-2004) and approved by the Council on July 12, 2004.
The amendments went before the full voting membership for a paper-ballot vote in September-October 2004. The proposed changes aimed to reduce the number of candidates nominated for President-Elect, Membership Representatives to the Executive Committee, and Councilor Representatives to the Executive Committee—and to eliminate the step whereby a Council vote culled the list of nominees for President-Elect and Membership Representatives to the Executive Committee before the vote by the full membership. Ballots were tallied by the Chicago accounting firm of Clifton Gunderson, results reviewed by an IFT Tellers Committee in January, and all the amendments passed, with more than 90% of those who returned ballots voting in favor of ratification.
The ratification of the amendments raises two points related to the upcoming elections. First, you will see fewer candidates on the 2005 ballot; two of your distinguished colleagues will run for President-Elect; four for Membership Representative; and four for Councilor Representative. As always, only those of you who are Councilors will be eligible to cast votes for the latter.
The second point takes us back to why electronic elections are a proactive step in reaching out to members. Historically, between 15% and 22% of eligible IFT voters have cast ballots in paper-ballot, leadership elections. Returns for issue votes, like this most recent ballot on constitutional amendments, have been even lower. Electronic elections have become an increasingly popular choice for associations, in part, because of better voter turnout.
We have evidence from our own grassroots. Several Sections and Divisions have already voted on-line. As Gregory Stucky of the Sensory Evaluation Division reported in last year’s Spotlight newsletter, “This year marked our second year of running our elections electronically . . . our participation increased by 15% over last year resulting in the highest participation to date.”
Sections, Divisions, and the IFT Student Association (IFTSA) have been invited to take advantage of the new technology, as well. Section, Division and IFTSA elections will be open March 21, 2005 through April 8, 2005.
To participate in an IFT electronic election, voters will visit a secured Web site customized to meet election requirements and provide information on candidates. Access will be restricted by a required login and each username and password will be verified to ensure single, unique votes. While the Web site may be accessed from any computer, the system will only recognize current, paid IFT members. Make sure you have renewed your membership for this year if you wish to vote.
You will be hearing from us often in the coming weeks as we use all IFT communication vehicles to make members aware of this new process. We ask for your help in spreading the word and in helping to ensure that we have accurate e-mail addresses in our system. E-mail is the best way to direct members to the voting Web site. If you have a new e-mail address, write to [email protected] and include your name and IFT member number in the message. All other inquiries should be sent to [email protected].
In closing, and on behalf of IFT, I extend my sincere sympathy to all of those suffering after the recent tsunami and to our members in those countries so terribly affected. You are in our thoughts. IFT is investigating ways to leverage the knowledge and expertise of our members to contribute to long-term relief efforts. We believe that food science and technology can address some of the problems resulting from this terrible disaster and recognize that, once the television cameras leave the area, long-term solutions to support the communities and people affected will be needed. Your suggestions are welcomed.
by HERBERT STONE
IFT President, 2004–05
President, Tragon Corp.
Redwood City, Calif.