Ask the Chairman - Are there national guidelines for conducting lodge officer elections online?

Q. Dear Mr. Capp,

I had a question on how lodge leadership elections should be held. My lodge is going to hold our lodge elections soon. However, at the last lodge executive committee meeting, the lodge voted to have an online ballot for the lodge positions (lodge chief, vice chief, secretary), rather than an in-person election process. 
 
We were looking on the OA website for guidance on this topic, but could not find any. Would you be able to provide us with information on whether a lodge can hold online lodge elections? We would like to ensure that our lodge is following national standards. 
 
Thank you very much for your time.
 
Tyler
 
A. Tyler,
 
Thanks for your note. As time goes on, we expect to see much more of this type of thing coming up and may have to outline some "best practices" that lodges might use as a tool in addressing these questions. For now, however, the Order of the Arrow does not dictate any particular procedure for lodge officer elections.

Lodges should adopt their own election procedures, which should be properly approved and, preferably, made a part of the lodge rules well in advance of election season. My own thought is that it would be unfair to any of the candidates for office to change or add rules within a few weeks or months of the time candidates are contemplating a run for office. It would be best to identify new rules or change rules soon after the currently serving offices are elected, so that there is plenty of time for everyone to understand and assimilate the new procedures.
In addition, in moving to electronic voting, we would ask lodges to carefully think through how one "proves" identity, how viral campaigning may or may not affect an outcome, and to consider matters of lodge dues and BSA registration.

In sum, however, the Order of the Arrow does not have a national prohibition regarding online lodge elections, or any other procedure for conducting lodge officer elections, except that they be part of the duly approved lodge rules.

Thanks for checking,

Ray

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