Ask the Chairman - What is the role of the Scoutmaster and the OA Troop Rep during a unit election?

Q. Dear Ray,
I am the parent of an OA troop representative. I found out that our Scoutmaster changed the results of our troop’s unit election then told the senior patrol leader, who then told one of the Scouts affected by the vote in his favor. This Scout was not chosen by the vote of the troop but the Scoutmaster put his name on the list and took one of the other Scouts name off the list that actually received more votes. The Scoutmaster then handed the list to the OA troop rep and told him what he had done.

My son is going to talk to the Scoutmaster. What is the chain of command in a situation like this? I am loosing faith in the Scoutmaster it makes me wonder how many other elections are fixed?

I would like to do what is right on behalf of both Scouts. I am going to print out your year long schedule and review it with the Scoutmaster.

A Concerned Parent

A. Dear Concerned Parent:
Thanks for your note; sorry to hear of this situation. I believe you are right to have your OA Representative chat with the Scoutmaster about this. Sounds like there are two things about this election which need some attention:

  1. As to the “chain of command” as you mention. Troop elections are to be done by a trained election team sent from the chapter or lodge. If the rules of conducting elections are not maintained, we often get disputed results. If the election WAS conducted by a lodge or chapter team, they would have had to sign off on the results as having been legitimately voted by the quorum of youth members present.
  2. There is a very legitimate time for a Scoutmaster to “take names off” the slate of candidates to be voted. That would be before the ballot is created and presented to the unit. The Scoutmaster has a duty, actually, to be certain that the candidates meet the camping and other requirements and live the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives. Changes after the fact are not part of our program after the Scouts speak their minds by ballot.

To help with these kinds of abnormalities, we are working right now, as a national organization to clarify all of this in a new (online) resource to be introduced at NOAC 2015. We are in the final editing of the Guide to Unit Elections, now and hopefully, all unit leaders, OA troop representatives, OA troop representative advisers and those conducting elections in units will adhere to it to avoid the kind of situation you have described.

I also agree with you that your Scoutmaster might want to review the “year-long calendar” to prep for an OA election that I published and which served so well to dispel these kinds of unfortunate outcomes from troop-elections-gone-awry.

Thanks for bringing your situation to my attention. If you do not get satisfaction, I would definitely take it up with the adviser to the election team which the lodge or chapter should have been invited to send to your troop to conduct this election. Let me know if they want to talk with me to help clarify their role and how these elections should be administered, recorded and communicated.

Ray

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