August 8, 2021
NOW elects national officers every four years. Our national board of directors is elected every two years in even-numbered years. This year was scheduled to be an election year for our national officers, but as was the case last year, the conference and elections had to be held virtually.
This year’s election carried some controversy as a slate of two younger women was denied the right to run through procedural votes of the National NOW Board of Directors and some controversial rulings and actions by NOW’s parliamentarian and presiding leaders of meetings at which these rulings were upheld. There were two teams that were approved – the incumbent officers and a team of two activists (Gay Bruhn and Beth Corbin). Maryland NOW members were mailed links to the campaign websites as well as a link to the site sponsored by the young women who tried to run.
Some challenges became apparent in the virtual format we have had to adopt the past two years. Under NOW’s election rules, each approved team or slate has access to the membership lists and can mail campaign materials as often as they choose. For members who want to raise issues that they believe aren’t being addressed, it became clear with this virtual format it was very hard to get such messages out to voters. The online sessions offered little opportunity to actually raise questions or have serious discussions about matters of concern to chapters and states.
Some Maryland NOW officers and members were part of a group questioning issues that really weren’t being addressed – problems with membership processing, a sharp decline in the number of our chapters nationwide, and how money due chapters and states through rebates was being paid out. The failure of the office staff to renew our fundraising permits (officially called Charitable Solicitation Certificates) and, consequently the organization’s inability to mail renewal notices to most members for between 6 and 9 months has had crippling repercussions throughout NOW, yet was never addressed by the incumbent officers. It’s fair to say that most members were not even aware of the problem.
The incumbents did prevail and won the election. They will serve for a four-year term.
Registrations for the conference numbered 746. Of that number, 577 cast ballots for one of the two teams. This meant that 169 members eligible to vote did not vote — 22.6%. The incumbent slate “Forward Together NOW” won with 368 votes cast, and the slate of “Empowering Voices NOW” received 209 votes.
Traditionally, the work of NOW is generally conducted in business sessions held on the last two days of the conference. Bylaws were to have been voted on in Saturday’s session, and Issue Resolutions (the organization’s “action plan”) were to have been voted upon in Sunday’s business session. With registration for the conference of 746 members, a quorum of 186 (or 25%) was needed to conduct business at these meetings. On both Saturday and Sunday, only about 60% of that number was present, so both sessions were canceled when it became apparent that no quorum would be present.
Resolutions can be taken up by the National Board of Directors at any National Board Meeting, but changes to National NOW’s Bylaws can only be considered at annual meetings.