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How many candidates should be on the ballot for a Board position?

Why only 2 if we have more people willing to run?

This question is asked often. Different groups/organizations do it in different ways, but generally the best practice is to have only 2.
While this is not an exhaustive list, here are some of the reasons why ACBS only has 2 people on the ballot for each position:

PROS (reasons for more than 2 to appear on the ballot)

  • A candidate unknown to the Election Committee, but known to the members, has an opportunity to be elected.

CONS (reasons against having more than 2 people appear on the ballot for a single position)

  • A run off election would be needed.  Our bylaws (and most bylaws) say that to be on the Board, a candidate must receive 50%+1 of the votes cast.  If there were 7 on a ballot, the top vote getter could have at little as 14.5%, which is insufficient for election to a board.  A run off election would be necessary among the top 2 vote getters.
    • This is problematic too because not as many people vote in a "run off" election.  Voter fatigue sets in, and there are always fewer votes.  Also voters sometimes think there was an error with the first election because it seems to be happening "again".
    • Re-running the top 2 vote getters isn't without it flaws, because it's possible that the other candidates impacted each others chance (example: if candidates: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 were all from the same place, and candidates 6 and 7 were from a different place, the votes from region 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 may have split across those five, giving all of them a disadvantage).
  • Voters don't often read and research candidates in detail.  Having an unlimited number on the ballot could mean that the least qualified could be elected.  Having an Election Committee narrow the slate on the basis of representation, past volunteerism, ethics, etc., is an aid to the voters.
  • Those on the ballot with the largest social media presence or the largest number of published books/articles will likely always win. Name recognition on the ballot is really important, because the voters don't all read the bios/platforms of the candidates.  This inappropriately would likely result in those with the biggest name recognition winning each election.
  • You have more people on the ballot "not elected", and most candidates are unwilling to put their name forward, and not be selected, a finite number of times.
  • Those on the ballot from the largest region/profession/etc., are likely to win most of the time, which does not ensure diverse representation.
  • There would be no way of promoting equitable representation in different demographic categories (race, nationality, gender, etc.) across all of the available, open Board positions. 
  • Not basing inclusion on a ballot on ethics, dedication, volunteer history, and the ability to get things done can result in an unresponsive board member with few achievements.

Having only 2 candidates on the ballot for each position doesn't solve all of these potential problems above, but it does help in many cases. To assist with the potential issues above, an Election Committee can closely review nominees and select the 2 who will best represent and lead the association.

For Chapters: Ideally you would like to have 2, but if you only have 1 candidate, you may still hold the election (and should, unless your bylaws indicated that you do not need to hold them in that case).

Here are a few links to how Nominating/Election Committees are encouraged to operate:

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