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Baronial Pollings
Just got my polling for the Baronial election in the mail. Apparently, for the election to be valid, they require fully filled-in forms (five separate fields) from 50%+ of all paid members.

By postal mail.

And there is no SASE enclosed.

This plan strikes me as coming dangerously close to the "unrealistic" line, given how hard it is to get people to put anything in the mail these days. (I know too many people who find the whole idea of sending postal mail quaint, since they are doing all their bill-paying online.) I still think Kingdom made a very poor choice in arrogating the election process to itself, but sobeit -- there's not a lot we can do about it.

So: if you are a paid member, *please* be sure to fill out and return your ballot, even if you look at the slates and have the entirely reasonable reaction of, "I don't much care -- they'd all do a good job". It looks like we need a serious get-out-the-vote effort if we're to avoid things getting weird and unfortunate. Spread the word...

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What happens if the election is invalid?

That is a *very* good question. I have no idea, but would prefer not to find out the hard way -- I'm not coming up with any likely answers that I like...

What's the deadline, out of curiosity?

Do we know if the Majesties or the Heirs are going to be the ones making the final call?

You would seriously think this would be done online in this day and age, but then again with the website problems that sprang up this year...

More to the point -

1. I trust one of those sets of people more than the other in this instance, for better or worse. One set is local and one is, well, Southern Region.

2. I am not above going across the sidewalk and asking His Majesty to send a personal note to the Carolingia list urging people to get their ballots in.

January 15th; I assume Their Majesties make the decision, given the timing.

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Edward and Thyra, I believe, and I do generally trust them to be sensible. Still, I dislike the precedent of allowing the Crown that leeway, even if they aren't likely to do anything inappropriate with it.

The whole process smells to high heaven, frankly: while I don't believe anyone did it intentionally, the end result comes closer than I like to disenfranchising the Baronies via bureaucratic over-reach...

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Yeeeaaaahhhh -- this is one of those places where I am a deep believer in the "good parts of the Middle Ages" description of the SCA...

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Yep -- and then Kingdom decided that they knew better than the Baronies. How unusual...

It struck me a while back that one person with a grudge and a bit of cash could game the current system. Just register enough people as members who have no interest and would throw pollings away as junk mail.

I was sorely tempted.

That is also when I decided I was getting too worked up about SCA politics and it was time to take a six month vacation. :)

Besides I approved of the likely Baron...

Well, gaming the system's been altogether straightforward ever since the franchise was narrowed to paid members. I just tend to assume that it's too expensive to generally be worth the bother, and subject to massive social retaliation if anybody's ever caught at it...

Don't be so sure. Compare the cost to the liquid assets of the Barony. It's probably not much of a money maker, but other non-profits have been invaded that way; one of them was a railroad preservation society which owned some track and restored engines. It turned out to be profitable to pay for enough memberships to take over the society and sell the assets...

Yeah, but doing something like that in the SCA is clearly against SCA rules and I *suspect* it would constitute tax fraud (given our tax status). And I don't know of any SCA branches with really significant assets. There are easier ways to embezzle a few grand.

And as Dagonell indicates downthread, it's been tried -- but as I would expect, caused massive social backlash. It's certainly a plausible rules hack, but I suspect self-defeating on most levels...

I've seen that happen. One couple competing for the Baronial Coronets spent a young fortune buying memberships for their mundane friends to vote them in. It backfired because SCAdians who were going to vote for them, voted for someone else out of sheer disgust. They lost by a very slim margin and the atmosphere was quite hostile for a long time.
-- Dagonell

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that someone actually tried it. Good lord.

That would offend my sense of fair play.

I was more disgusted by the whole who is a member push to only paid members counting.

I have reached out to the other candidates about the issue, and I'll have envelopes and stamps with me at every meeting I go to between now and January 15th.

Okay, good -- thanks...

I belong to an organization that requires not only paper ballots in envelopes but the additional complication of writing a signature on the back of the sealed envelope, and sending it to an accountant in Atlanta. I guess in some sense that's still a secret ballot, though, because identifying stuff is on the ballot itself. I was a little startled by the ballot for the baronial election - lots of identifying required.
I am presuming it's OK to send two people's ballots in one envelope.

The paper ballots on their own don't concern me so much. It's the combination of paper ballots *and* a requirement of 50%+ returned *and* no SASE *and* the fact that this is a recreational club where people routinely ignore official mailings that worries me. It can be done, but I think it'll require some real effort.

I was a little startled by the ballot for the baronial election - lots of identifying required.

Yeah, it feels very bureaucratically suspicious, the typical result of people sitting around and asking, "What might be useful?" instead of "What is necessary?" (The Year of Birth certification strikes me as especially paranoid.)

I am presuming it's OK to send two people's ballots in one envelope.

I assume so -- nothing indicates otherwise.

Because I simply can't remember - was there an SASE with the last poll?

My recollection was that the polling took place on a pre-stamped postcard. Can't swear to it, though -- too many pollings over too many years. (I'm pretty sure that we have at least sometimes done the pre-stamped postcard thing, and that's worked decently well -- much lower activation energy for people to return the poll...)

That's my recollection, but it may have been the polling before...

That sounds right? I've only been around for one previous polling, so I think your recollection is correct.

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