[eDebate] Question re: topic balloting

Darren Elliott delliott
Wed Apr 26 01:19:42 CDT 2006


Thank you for taking an interest in the organization and it's operations.  Far too often people tune out our processes.  Our organization is only as strong as the people who get involved.  Also thanks for reposting this.  For me it got lost in an array of emails while I was doing Phi Rho Pi.  Let me chime in on what I know.

1.  The topic committee process for deadlines seems to fluctuate from year to year.  As a new committee member this year I plan to recommend that the committee set dates, hold meetings at NCA and CEDA in addition to the summer, create a timeline, and stick to it.  We MUST make the process more accessible to our members and more user-friendly.  

2.  I believe the term of the Chair is determined at the previous years meeting and is instituted for the following year.  In other words Mancuso was reinstituted as Chair last June to fill that role this year.  At the end of this years meetings I assume there will be a similar call to determine the Chair for next year.

3.  As for duties of the Chair I agree the constitution does not outline the duties.  I am with Martin Harris on this one in terms of constitutional authority.  Defining them precisely seems to be outside the purpose of the Constitution and By-Laws.  Maybe not.  If others disagree I am willing to entertain their ideas.  I do think the Chair should solicit input on initiatives and get consensus of the committee, who are elected to represent the community.  Since I am new this year I am curious to see if this is the way things occur.  I have no reason to believe they occur otherwise.

4.  The topic "wording" papers as a starting point have been tossed around by many members of the committee and non-members for a few years now.  This falls in line with the need to get a timeline set for the topic process and to have that process more defined and more accessible to the membership in my opinion.  I am intrigued by the idea of wording papers as it can help the community focus and understand what they are voting for.  One recent criticism has been a community vote for "Europe", for example, turns out to be nothing that was predicted when the actual resolutions come out.  Wording papers may alleviate these problems.

5.  The entire constitution needs to be updated.  There have been a number of amendments passed since 2003 and the current online copy MUST be updated.  I agree with you 100%.  I will push this change at the summer meeting.  My understanding was this was going to occur at the end of last summer.  Again, leadership must set an example for the community or apathy ensues.  Thanks for not being apathetic.

6.  I think "email" is loosely defined to include the votes being done electronically.  This may have been codified and not updated in the constitution as Martin suggests.  If not codified, I would still say the balloting is legitimate as the vote occurs and an "email" is generated to Jarman.  The password protection makes sense as not too long ago people who were not coaches thought they could vote and so students unknowingly were casting their "school" vote without the actual Director having a say in the vote.  The password system was created to prevent that.  

I hope this helps.  Hopefully you can make it to KC for the Summer Meetings.


Darren Elliott
Director of Debate--KCKCC
CEDA 2nd VP Elect

>>> "Sarah Snider" <snider.sj at gmail.com> 04/25/06 6:56 PM >>>
I sent this out a few weeks ago and nobody really responded. I am
particularly concerned about item number 6 on this list.

currently Jarman has indicated that people can vote on the website or via
fax, mail or email. Are we only counting the votes that come in via email,
mail, or fax? Because the CEDA constitution does not allow for voting via
secure website-

I do think that Steve has worked hard to better the process. Unfortunately
the CEDA constitution does not even mention some of the things that steve
has initiated.

Pages 16 and 17 of the CEDA constitution discuss topic selection (I've
pasted it below)

Some comments that I have about this process.
1. The constitution does not have a timeline for topic paper submissions?

2. The constitution says nothing about the term of the chair. Is the chair
the chair from the point they are elected until their term on the committee
ends? Do we elect one every year?

3. What are the duties of the Chair? According to the constitution they just
show up. Steve has clearly gone above and beyond the charge of the CEDA

4. the constitution says nothing about topic "wording papers" which I
understand are different from topic area papers (this would be one of
Steve's recent initiatives).

5. Didn't we just change the topic release date? This should be updated in
the constitution.

6. and lastly aren't people voting with passwords on a website? The
constitution says that these votes won't be counted because they are not
faxed, mailed, or emailed. I think this is problematic.


Section 1: The CEDA Topic Selection Committee will be responsible for
choosing problem areas and writing debate topics. The CEDA Topic Selection
Committee will consist of nine members: The President, 1st Vice President,
2nd Vice President, three at-large members, one student representative, one
representative appointed by the National Debate Tournament, and one
representative appointed by the American Debate Association. Open
nominations for the at large members will be solicited at the Fall business
meeting. The term of office of the three at large representatives will be
three years, and to provide for overlap one will be elected each year.

Section 2: Within two weeks of the national tournament the committee will
report to the

Executive Secretary no fewer than three problem areas to be voted upon by
the general

membership. In early July the committee will report to the Executive
Secretary no fewer than three resolutions corresponding to the winning topic
area. The resolutions should be phrased so as to affirm the value of future
and specific governmental change, and suggesting a broad but predictable
array of potential affirmative plans.

Section 3: The Executive Secretary will distribute a topic selection ballot
to all CEDA members in early July. Only mailed, faxed, or emailed ballots
received by the deadline designated by the Executive-Secretary will be
accepted. The designated deadline must be no more than five days before the
topic announcement date.

Section 4: Topics will be selected through a proportional voting system.
Voters will be required to rank as many choices as they wish, consecutively,
with one being the first rank. After all votes are cast, the number of valid
ballots will be determined, and it will require a majority of that number
(50% plus one) of first place votes for a choice to be elected. All first
place votes will be counted. If one choice receives a majority, it wins. If
not, the choice with the LEAST first place votes will be thrown out, and
ballots that had the discarded choice as first will be counted using their
second place votes. This process will be repeated until one choice attains a
majority. If two or more of the choices to be eliminated have equal numbers
of first place votes, they will be eliminated together, with second place
votes for both added to the respective first place totals on the same round.
If a choice is eliminated and its second choice is already eliminated, that
ballot's third choice will count as a first choice, and so forth.

Section 5: The CEDA topic will be announced on the last Friday in July. When
announcing election results, the Executive Secretary shall report the total
number of ballots received and the vote totals for each topic wording.

Revised as of January 31, 2003 (questions, contact
jeffrey.jarman at wichita.edu )

Section 6: The chair of the Topic Selection Committee will be a committee
member selected by a majority vote of the committee.

Section 7: The Executive Secretary shall, upon receipt of a problem area
ballot or a topic wording ballot, provide acknowledgement of its receipt via
email to the sender. The notification shall not disclose the particular
vote, but is merely intended to inform the sender their ballot has been
received and will be tabulated. The Executive Secretary shall inform any
member of problems with their ballot at this time ( e.g. improperly
completed ballot). When announcing results, the Executive Secretary shall


Just some observations. I know I'm not a member of the CEDA executive
committee or anything I don't want to make it seem like I don't respect
those who do put in serious effort into this organization and process, but
we definitely need to at least bring the constitution in line with the way
we are actually doing things.

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