Voting Changes At IEEE Give Nod to Critics

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has adopted new voting procedures for choosing its top officers that are, in part, a response to continued pressure by dissident members to give the rank and file a greater voice in the institute’s affairs. In the fall the 280,000 member international organization will use a system that allows members to vote for more than one candidate for each office. Officials said that this system, called approval plurality voting, is the

Jan 25, 1988
The Scientist Staff

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has adopted new voting procedures for choosing its top officers that are, in part, a response to continued pressure by dissident members to give the rank and file a greater voice in the institute’s affairs.

In the fall the 280,000 member international organization will use a system that allows members to vote for more than one candidate for each office. Officials said that this system, called approval plurality voting, is the rarest and most direct way to select a winner in a contest involving more than two candidates.

IEEE's board of directors also has approved a bylaws change that would require it to nominate at least two persons for the offices of president-elect and executive vice president. Last fall only one person was nominated for each office: Emerson Pugh of Yorktown Heights, N.Y., for president elect and Dennis Bodson of Washington. D.C.. for executive vice president.

A constitutional amendment proposed by the dissident Committee of Concerned E.E.s that would have prevented such a “non-election” failed to win the required two-thirds majority in balloting last fall, but the fact that it received 57 percent of the vote convinced board members that a change was needed. The board had opposed the amendment in a statement accompanying the ballot.

“We think it’s the fairest way to go to best reflect the will of the membership,” said IEEE spokesman Tom White about the new system. “If you think two candidates are highly qualified, you can vote for both of them.” White said that the approval system is superior to a runoff, which requires a second election.

Irwin Feerst, the founder of the Committee of Concerned E.E.s who in 1986 narrowly missed winning a write-in campaign for president-elect, said the decision to nominate multiple candidates is “a very, very big victory for working engineers.”

The board has nominated two candidates for president-elect in 1989 and three candidates for executive vice president. Members will use the new approval voting system when they cast their ballots in September.


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(The Scientist, Vol:2, #2, p.7, January 25, 1988)
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