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Guidelines for co-operative elections

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A co-op elects its board of directors each year at its annual general meeting (AGM). Here’s some guidelines for how to prepare for and run an election.

Before the Meeting

  1. The board should create a nominating committee to find candidates that will be presented at the AGM. This committee should talk to regular members to raise awareness of the board’s duties and the upcoming election.
  2. In its bylaws, a co-op should state how much notice it needs to give members about the AGM. The secretary must send members notice of the meeting’s date, and a call for nominations for candidates to serve on the board. (Typically, the co-op issues the call for nominations two months before the meeting, and notice for the AGM one month before the meeting).
  3. Get members who want to serve on the board to submit a nomination form to the nomination committee. Another member should sign the form.

At the Meeting

  1. Make sure to include time for the election on the AGM’s agenda.
  2. Have the chair of the nomination committee present the list of candidates. The chair can call for additional nominations from the floor, three times — if that’s allowed in the bylaws.
  3. If the number of candidates is within the range of directors set out in the bylaws, the chair should call for the members to approve the slate of candidates. But, if the number of candidates is more than the maximum number of directors allowed in the bylaws, the members will need to vote.
  4. If you need to vote, issue ballots to the members in attendance. You’ll need to give each voter one ballot per candidate (i.e. if you’re electing four candidates, give everyone four ballots each). Each member will write the names of the candidates they wish to vote for on a ballot — one name per ballot.
  5. Designate someone to count the ballots — the nomination committee can do this before the meeting. If you’re electing four directors, the four with the most votes win.
  6. The chair should then ask the newly elected board of directors to stand and be acknowledged by the members.

After the Meeting

  1. The newly elected board should meet immediately after the annual meeting.
  2. At this first board meeting, directors must determine who will hold signing authority (if applicable), and who will serve as the officers of the co-operative.
  3. The directors should appoint a president, vice-president, treasurer, and secretary (or secretary-treasurer).
  4. The directors may, if necessary, strike committees to support the activities of the co-operative (e.g. finance, governance).
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