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An Important Notice to USPA Members

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An Important Notice to USPA Members
A Call for the Meeting and a Notice to Amend

On July 16, 2010, at 7 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Nashua, located at 2 Somerset Parkway, Nashua, NH 03063, USPA will host an annual general membership meeting. All members in good standing are invited and urged to attend. If you cannot attend, you are urged to complete the adjoining proxy to allow an important change to USPA’s by-laws. USPA is initiating this proxy effort to change its by-laws to allow the use of an online voting process for electing its board of directors. The online voting process would be in addition to the current and continuing use of paper ballots for the election.

Like all associations, USPA has a set of self-developed by-laws that codify certain aspects of how the association will be run, including how elections for the board of directors are to be conducted. As is also common, certain parts of USPA’s by-laws are subject to change by a two-thirds majority of the board (not always as easy as you might think), while other parts, specifically anything dealing with board elections, can only be changed by a quorum of the membership at a general membership meeting. Getting a quorum of USPA members, specified by the by-laws as 10 percent of the membership, isn’t easy either. In fact, since USPA’s annual general membership meetings generally attract only a few dozen members, getting a quorum is nearly impossible without a proxy effort.

USPA’s board election process occurs every two years, with 2010 being an "on" year. All 22 board seats—eight national directors and 14 regional directors—are up for grabs for those candidates who meet requirements. In general, the election process seems to work well, with one exception: Only about 10 percent of the membership typically votes. That means that some 3,200 members elect the 22 leaders that make decisions for all 32,000 of us.

A majority of the board of directors believes that if our by-laws are changed to allow secure online voting, then more members will participate in our board elections. Since USPA’s current by-laws require the use of paper ballots and the U.S. Postal Service for the election, the by-laws need revision to allow for other balloting methods. Importantly, approval of an online voting process will not end the use of paper ballots; every member’s issue of Parachutist will still contain a paper ballot, which may be completed and mailed. However, if the by-laws change is approved, members will also be allowed to simply log on to a secure website to vote.

Proposed Changes
USPA’s by-laws specify that election ballots contain the "original signature" of the voting member, and the ballots be "mailed." At its last meeting, the board of directors adopted the following motion, "Move to solicit proxies from the USPA general membership for the sole purpose of amending the USPA by-laws to allow online voting in the election of USPA directors."

As a result, USPA is now soliciting proxies in support of changing the by-laws to also allow online voting, in addition to the continuing use of paper ballots that can be returned by mail.

Explanation
When developed, USPA’s by-laws only contemplated the use of paper ballots returned by mail for election of the board of directors. If supported by affirmative proxies, the board would be authorized to change the by-laws to allow the use of online balloting in the conduct of board elections. The by-laws would continue to require the use of paper ballots; there is no proposal to do away with paper ballots.

Procedures
To meet the quorum requirement of 10 percent, approximately 3,200 members will need to be present or represented by proxy. A proxy is not technically a vote. Rather it is an authorization a member gives to another member to vote on his behalf. A member may assign his proxy to any member in good standing who will be present at the meeting. Typically in proxy solicitations, the proxy is given to an officer of the corporation in order to facilitate the validating and counting of the proxies. For this meeting and this proxy statement, the USPA Board of Directors Secretary has been selected as the person named on the proposed attached proxy statement.

For proxies to be valid, the person signing the statement must be an individual regular member of USPA on the date of record, which is established as June 30, 2010. Proxies may be sent to USPA at any time but must be received prior to the meeting. Members are encouraged to submit proxy statements at their earliest convenience in order to facilitate validation and counting.

IF YOU DO NOT INTEND TO ATTEND THE GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING ON JULY 16, 2010, IN NASHUA, NEW HAMPSHIRE, PLEASE FILL OUT AND SIGN, THEN MAIL, FAX (540) 604-9741) OR E-MAIL (uspa@uspa.org) THIS STATEMENT OF PROXY.
I Jumped with the guys who invented Skydiving.

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So let me ask the obvious question. Why should electronic voting get the membership more involved than the current method? Is it so hard to put a stamp on a letter?

Yeah, I know, it's like old people, it's not kool, you can't vote on your iPhone. But this is skydiving. This is life and death. If you can't put a freaking 43 cent stamp on an envelope, are you really going to take the time be an educated, responsible e-voter? Or are you just going to vote for the guy with the kool sponsors?

I have voted in every USPA election since I joined in 1988. The $4 I spent on stamps in 22 years haven't bankrupted me yet.

I have spent time talking to every candidate who ever ran in my region, and many of the national directors as well. That time was not wasted, whether I voted for the person in question or not.

I am not opposed to e-voting, but I really don't see it making a huge difference. If 90% of us can't bother to sign a piece of paper and stick it in the mail, I don't think a whole lot more people are actually going to participate just because it's on the interwebs.

It's not the last step putting the piece of paper in the mail that matters -it's the thought process that goes into deciding who and what you want to vote for.

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If 90% of us can't bother to sign a piece of paper and stick it in the mail, I don't think a whole lot more people are actually going to participate just because it's on the interwebs.



If 90% can't be bothered to vote in elections, I wonder if 10+% can be bothered to vote by proxy for this motion. Sadly, I'm guessing not. [:/]
"There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." -P.J. O'Rourke

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If 90% of us can't bother to sign a piece of paper and stick it in the mail, I don't think a whole lot more people are actually going to participate just because it's on the interwebs.



If 90% can't be bothered to vote in elections, I wonder if 10+% can be bothered to vote by proxy for this motion. Sadly, I'm guessing not. [:/]




There could be a lot more than just online voting riding on the success of this proxy. The BOD is weary of asking members for their participation only to get a "Ho Hum" reaction. In the future, we really need to change the BOD term to 3 years. More would be accomplished without the interruption of an election plus the cost of elections would be reduced by 50%. That also would require a proxy vote. So, either the members participate or USPA remains stagnant and in the dark ages. The BOD has no authority to make these changes without YOUR approval.

These proxies can be emailed or faxed, so please take a moment to send yours to USPA.

Ed
N&E Chair



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Please do not send in a proxy to USPA.

As a card carrying member of the National Association of Parliamentarians, I can tell you that proxies used in a deliberative assembly give away your fundamental right to debate a question.

Here is a quote from Robert's Rules of Order, 10th Edition that applies to USPA:
Quote


A proxy is a power of attorney given by one person to another to vote in his stead; the term also designates the person who holds the power of attorney. Proxy voting is not permitted in ordinary deliberative assemblies unless the laws of the state in which the society is incorporated require it, or the charter or bylaws of the organization provide for it.

Ordinarily it should neither be allowed or required, because proxy voting is incompatible with the essential characteristics of a deliberative assembly in which membership is individual, personal and nontransferable.

In a stock corporation, on the other hand, where the ownership is transferable, the voice and vote of the member also is transferable, by use of a proxy.

But in a non-stock corporation, where membership is usually on the same basis as in an unincorporated, voluntary association, voting by proxy should not be permitted unless the state's corporation law - as applying to nonstock corporations - absolutely requires it.



In a nutshell RONR prohibits proxy voting, but the bylaws may allow it or the state laws may require it.
NY state law does not require proxy voting.
The USPA bylaws do allow proxy voting.

Quote


Article II—Association Meetings
SECTION 1: GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETINGS
General Membership Meetings (GMM) may be called by
the BOD, the USPA Executive Committee, or the USPA
President. A minimum of one such meeting shall be held
each calendar year. A quorum of the general membership
shall be 10% of the total membership. Regular members
are entitled to vote either in person or by proxy at the
meeting.



What USPA should be doing is putting a measure/referendum on the ballot, that specifically states the changes to the bylaws,
eg Amend Section abc as follows, strike '.....' and insert '.....'

I have asked several people several times, including at the last BOD mtg to provide this information.
All of them said (paraphrased) 'Well, we don't know the exact text right now.'
They also do not have answers to important questions about recounts and duplicate ballots via both means of voting.
There are several issues about how members would obtain their username and password to login to vote.
One person told me they were going to use birthday as the password.
Well, DZOs have that info. Anyone ever organizing a world record has that info. Facebook has that info.
The path for compromise exists. Not saying anyone would actually do that, but the path should not be open.

Just say no to this proxy.

Or better yet send me a proxy & I'll make a motion of

"Amend Section 1-1, Article II, Section 1 General Membership Meetings as follows:
Strike 'either' and 'or by proxy at the meeting.'"
The final sentence would read:
'Regular members are entitled to vote in person.'

This will force USPA to make amendments to the bylaws that pertain to the "to size, composition, and election of
the USPA Board of Directors" in a proper manner by putting the exact changes on the ballot.

USPA will then stop wasting membership money on these stupid proxy initiatives.

.
.
Make It Happen
Parachute History
DiveMaker

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Gee to bad we can't vote online for this online voting thing and get it settled, then again that would have required some fore thought and planing by our fearless leaders of the last 15 years or so, in other words this should have been handled a long time ago!
you can't pay for kids schoolin' with love of skydiving! ~ Airtwardo

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>Gee to bad we can't vote online for this online voting thing and get it
>settled, then again that would have required some fore thought and
>planing by our fearless leaders of the last 15 years or so . . .

Damn those USPA members who couldn't have predicted the rise of the Internet 30 years ago! I bet if you had been around you could have set them straight.

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Explanation

When developed, USPA’s by-laws only contemplated the use of paper ballots returned by mail for election of the board of directors. If supported by affirmative proxies, the board would be authorized to change the by-laws to allow the use of online balloting in the conduct of board elections. The by-laws would continue to require the use of paper ballots; there is no proposal to do away with paper ballots.



Please help me to understand. If there is no intention of doing away with the paper ballots in lieu of on-line voting; why are you going thru this exercise?
Nobody has time to listen; because they're desperately chasing the need of being heard.

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Well, I can neither make it to the meeting; nor am I willing to give the equivalent of a "General Power of Attorney" for my vote unless there is some specificity with regard to implementation. For example;

Will it be first or third party proctor?
a. If third party; how much will that cost and is it more financially advantageous than the current methodology?
b. If first party - No.

Will it be by electronic signature?

Will it offer 128-bit encryption

How will the integrity of the voter lists be protected?
Nobody has time to listen; because they're desperately chasing the need of being heard.

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Read the BOD notes for the last few meetings and talk to your BOD members. They have been working with multiple third parties to determine a solution and all of these items are addressed in the solutions. There has not been any mention of being first party ran for this that I have seen in a BOD meeting minute. Until a vendor is selected its impossible to say the cost and other technical factors since each company does things differently. Amending the bylaws to lock it into a specific method is not a great idea since then to alter that if something better comes along takes a massive effort again.

This is not a unique issue for organizations and there are factors beyond cost like participation percentages that need looked at also. If we can go from the roughly 10% of member voting today to say 25-40% with electronic voting is a higher cost to run the election worth it?
Yesterday is history
And tomorrow is a mystery

Parachutemanuals.com

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If we can go from the roughly 10% of member voting today to say 25-40% with electronic voting is a higher cost to run the election worth it?



That depends on what you think of the choices of those additional 15%-30% who didn't care to make the effort before, but can vote more easily now.

As Moshe said, the mail-in ballot hasn't been that hard to use. If that's what kept those people away, I don't know that I really want them voting now just because it is easier.

Simply increasing the vote count may be literally more democratic, but it doesn't necessarily say we'll make better decisions.

If it only serves to enhance the popularity contest aspects of the voting, then I would say, "no, it wasn't worth it".

Of course, we won't know until we do it, so I guess we should give it a go.

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Thanks, Eric.


The fact of the matter is - that much homework really isn't that important to me.
I vote in every election which takes about ten minutes - tops.
I'm sorry the issue is low voter turn-out; but, that's not a voting methodology issue as much as it's a voter apathy issue.
More ways of voting is not going to decrease apathy.

Keep sending me ballots and I'll keep sending them in.
Nobody has time to listen; because they're desperately chasing the need of being heard.

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Jan,

We had a choice. We could complicate the issue with so many details that almost no one would read it or those that tried would doze off, or we could simplify matters and tell the members what we intend to do. We could not please 100% of the BOD with the wording and we will not be able to please 100% of the members either.

This is a legitimate effort to begin to bring USPA into the 21st century. I believe the vast majority of members are in favor of online voting or I would not be supporting it. USPA will not be forced into doing things another way if this effort should fail. If the proposal does not pass, I believe it will be dead entirely.

I would like those reading this to know you sat beside me during much of this discussion in Phoenix and we talked. What I see in your post is surprising and does not match what I recall at that meeting. Sometimes I think you must have a twin. ;)

Take care,

Ed



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Jan,

We had a choice. We could complicate the issue with so many details that almost no one would read it or those that tried would doze off, or we could simplify matters and tell the members what we intend to do. We could not please 100% of the BOD with the wording and we will not be able to please 100% of the members either.



This is exactly the problem. The BOD will not be making changes at the BOD mtg.
The members will be making the changes at the GMM, if there is a quorum.
There has to be a motion that says:
'Amend Section ... by striking '.....' and inserting '....'

If you do not provide that ahead of time, then no one can debate the changes.

Remember that 'fast one' that Bagley pulled on the changes to Section 3 that was rescinded at the next meeting?

Quote


This is a legitimate effort to begin to bring USPA into the 21st century. I believe the vast majority of members are in favor of online voting or I would not be supporting it. USPA will not be forced into doing things another way if this effort should fail. If the proposal does not pass, I believe it will be dead entirely.

I would like those reading this to know you sat beside me during much of this discussion in Phoenix and we talked. What I see in your post is surprising and does not match what I recall at that meeting. Sometimes I think you must have a twin. ;)



I want online voting too.
But I want a system that cannot be compromised.
I was part of the testers of the program USPA intends to go with.
I was able to vote for other people very easily.
One director never received his invitation to vote.
USPA only 'tested' the proposed vendor with BOD & staff members.
This is not a good sample set because they all know how the election process works.

There are also other methods that would be able to reduce the cost significantly.
One is to use an opt-in method of voter registration. This means that the cost of the online part of the election is based on how many people vote online and not based on the entire membership roster. This would lower the cost of online voting to about $8000, not the current estimate of $15-20,000.

I have asked you several times how you are going to reconcile multiple ballots submitted, especially one paper and one online.
You have not answered that question.

I have asked you several times how you are going to do a recount.
There is no electronic recount feature, nor mirrored server, to establish integrity of the online votes.
You said there will be some clerk somewhere entering data from the paper ballots.
There's bound to be data entry errors. Can this system find them via a rechecking of the paper ballot with the online ballot?
How will those votes be distinguished from a member directly voting online?
IOW, how do you cross check the paper ballot entries done by a clerk during a recount?

Will a member be able to log back in and verify their vote?
This should be a requirement because someone could submit a vote and not know if it got recorded because of a power failure, dropped wireless connection, accident on the information superhighway or Windoze locking up etc, etc.

Another issue is when the online poll will close?
Will it be the same as the paper ballots?
This is something needs to be addressed in the GM changes and verified with the vendor.

USPA should provide the proposed amendments now.
Or do you expect the amendments to magically appear at the GMM?

.
.
Make It Happen
Parachute History
DiveMaker

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This is exactly the problem. The BOD will not be making changes at the BOD mtg.
The members will be making the changes at the GMM, if there is a quorum.
There has to be a motion that says:
'Amend Section ... by striking '.....' and inserting '....'

If you do not provide that ahead of time, then no one can debate the changes.




This was decided by Constitution and Bylaws, Mike Mullins, Chair. I agree with their decision and I disagree with you. The members decide whether or not they want online voting and if so, the board and staff implement it. Also, you seem stuck on parliamentary issues. We consulted with New York attorneys (where USPA is incorporated) and they advised us. Personally, I will take the advice of the attorneys over a parliamentarian.


Quote


Remember that 'fast one' that Bagley pulled on the changes to Section 3 that was rescinded at the next meeting?




Actually, it wasn't Bagley, but he is no longer involved with the Committee and no one is trying to pull anything other than getting online voting for the members.


Quote


I want online voting too.
But I want a system that cannot be compromised.
I was part of the testers of the program USPA intends to go with.
I was able to vote for other people very easily.
One director never received his invitation to vote.
USPA only 'tested' the proposed vendor with BOD & staff members.
This is not a good sample set because they all know how the election process works.




We want to hire professionals who do elections on a daily basis with excellent records. Of course it was easy to vote for someone else during a test with no safeguards in place. We used commonly known passwords and usernames. The demonstration was just to show you the system.


Quote


I have asked you several times how you are going to reconcile multiple ballots submitted, especially one paper and one online.
You have not answered that question.




Actually I did answer the question. Why would you say that I didn't? All paper ballots will be keyed into the online system which checks for one voter, one vote.


Quote


I have asked you several times how you are going to do a recount.
There is no electronic recount feature, nor mirrored server, to establish integrity of the online votes.
You said there will be some clerk somewhere entering data from the paper ballots.
There's bound to be data entry errors. Can this system find them via a rechecking of the paper ballot with the online ballot?
How will those votes be distinguished from a member directly voting online?
IOW, how do you cross check the paper ballot entries done by a clerk during a recount?

Will a member be able to log back in and verify their vote?
This should be a requirement because someone could submit a vote and not know if it got recorded because of a power failure, dropped wireless connection, accident on the information superhighway or Windoze locking up etc, etc.

Another issue is when the online poll will close?
Will it be the same as the paper ballots?
This is something needs to be addressed in the GM changes and verified with the vendor.
USPA should provide the proposed amendments now.
Or do you expect the amendments to magically appear at the GMM?

.



You have asked a "ton" of questions over time and I believe I answered all of them. You are so deeply into minutiae that, in my opinion, is best handled by professionals.

Unfortunately, you have misrepresented some of what I said. I misspoke, corrected it and you choose for some reason to repeat my mistake without making reference to the correction I made. Why would you do that?

To reiterate, a member may check in as often as he/she likes to view the ballots. When the member presses the "VOTE" button, he/she receives a paper receipt of the vote and is locked out of going back.

The committee has made some suggestions concerning user names and passwords. Birthday was recommended as a username along with a password generated by the provider. Even USPA would not have access to the password list since it would be entirely handled by the provider. I can't say this is what will actually be used.

None of us on the committee or the USPA staff are professionals at online voting. If the members want online voting, professionals will be used. Your questions and tone indicate that you are deeply into micromanagement. That is not the method or intent of the N&E Committee.

Ed Dixon
N&E Chair



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Read the BOD notes for the last few meetings and talk to your BOD members. They have been working with multiple third parties to determine a solution and all of these items are addressed in the solutions. There has not been any mention of being first party ran for this that I have seen in a BOD meeting minute. Until a vendor is selected its impossible to say the cost and other technical factors since each company does things differently. Amending the bylaws to lock it into a specific method is not a great idea since then to alter that if something better comes along takes a massive effort again.



I agree with you on this part, Phree, and the cost proposed to develop the system seems exorbitant anyway, since there are so many plug n' play tools that need little modification to run these sorts of things.
But...I also believe that if folks can vote from their i-whatever and if they can do it without much distraction...we should see turnout significantly increase.

My _biggest_ concern is that a brother of a cousin who gave a high-ranking USPA cat tickets to the Senators game gets the bid vs a serious, careful assessment of some of the options available.

If the latter part of that concern is addressed, I'm willing to bet that the system selected will be a long term system, that will have been carefully vetted for issues before being put into play.

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This is an effort to allow USPA members to vote for their BOD representatives online in addition to the present snail mail ballots.

1. Click here and print out a proxy form.
http://www.uspa.org/Portals/0/Downloads/Proxy%20Download.pdf

2. Fill it out with your vote (for or against), information and signature.

3. Send it to USPA via email, snail mail or fax as instructed on the form.

That's it.

Ed



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My _biggest_ concern is that a brother of a cousin who gave a high-ranking USPA cat tickets to the Senators game gets the bid vs a serious, careful assessment of some of the options available.

If the latter part of that concern is addressed, I'm willing to bet that the system selected will be a long term system, that will have been carefully vetted for issues before being put into play.




DSE, You can certainly let that concern rest. Mike Mullins would not put up with any of that, nothing like that is getting past me and if it did, Jay Stokes would roll some heads !! There is at least a double layer of protection.

By the way, it's good to see you care enough to come to the meetings, even when under the weather.

Ed



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Eric,

I want to apologize if my response appeared callous. What I probably should have said was that I'm not willing to revisit the noise to signal ratio again. As one who does their homework and does vote, I am not opposed to online voting. What I am concerned with are the details of how the online voting will take place _after_ giving a proxy.

Having said that, does anyone know if the proxy will be accepted with an Adobe encrypted digital signature?
Nobody has time to listen; because they're desperately chasing the need of being heard.

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