Agenda item 26: Electronic voting

The BCA AGM is an important part of the governance of the organisation. In line with motion (1&2) improving engagement and participation of the membership is key to a healthy organisation.

In the past the BCA AGM was held in the same central location as council meetings. Unfortunately the only people who attended were the council members. Six years ago it was decided to move the AGM around the regions which hosted a ‘party weekend’ in the hope that it would encourage a wider attendance. On some occasions this has worked but numbers are still very limited. Usually you get the same 20-25 council members who normally attend meetings and then perhaps another 20-25 cavers mostly from the local region. These small numbers mean that out of a membership approaching 6000 an unhealthy influence can be had on policy from just a few, perhaps regionally biased, cavers. This is not good for the organisation’s democracy especially when the AGM has only been to the north once in six years!

The tedium of a meeting and the distance of travel are not conducive to encouraging engagement. However the proposed technological solutions for council meetings are not suitable to encourage several hundred members to engage with the AGM. The key business of the AGM is electing officers and voting on motions and it is voting which needs to be made more accessible for all the members.

Last year a motion on proxy voting failed. That motion had little support from council and the exec and no attempt was made to improve the motion to better suit the organisation. It was, at least, an attempt to address this issue and should be applauded. A better solution is electronic voting similar to that already used in the 2017 ballot. If motions and nominations were received by the council meeting prior to the AGM then there is a minimum of six weeks to run an electronic vote and count. This would make AGMs far more efficient and as this becomes a formal annual process preparations can be made well in advance. Therefore I propose the following motion:

“The BCA to investigate a process of electronic voting on motions and nominations properly presented to the Annual General Meetings. This process to be founded upon that used for the 2017 ballot but with greater use of professional help. The process, and any constitutional changes required to implement it, to be presented to the 2019 AGM with a view to full implementation at the 2020 AGM.”

Proposed by: Tim Allen