LCC Commission on Nominations and Elections: Nominations from the Floor

Synod is continuing its march towards a restructured future with elections to the various Synodical positions taking place at the three Districts (1). Following the results of the restructuring vote at the 2017 convention, on March 14, 2018 the Commission on Nominations and Elections (CNE) sent out a call for nominations with a submission deadline of May 15, 2018. This is in keeping with SYNODICAL BYLAWS 2.531

8. At least five months prior to the Convention, the Committee shall determine its complete list of candidates and alternates, obtain the consent of the persons it proposes to nominate, and transmit its final report to the secretary in ample time to provide for its publication in the official periodicals of LCC before the Convention and also in the official convention workbook. This report shall contain pertinent information concerning each candidate, such as age, occupation or profession, regional affiliation, residence, specific experience and qualifications for the office in question.

According to the LCC West Region Elections document there appears to be some controversy pertaining to how the CNE has set limits on nominations which would seem to preclude nominations from the floor. Specifically:

The question concerned the “having of nominations from the floor” during the Convention. We have tried to give full opportunity for congregations to participate in the nomination and election process by:(1) first having a round of nominations for such positions; (2) checking as to whether a nominee would let their name stand or not; (3) securing the “Candidate Profile” pages from those who accepted such nominations;(4) giving a further opportunity to all congregations to nominate (after this first process was completed) any additional nominee — and setting a deadline date of 10 days before the Convention in order to have time to process the nomination and “Candidate Profile” forms, run off copies of those forms and make such copies available to all delegates at the beginning of the Convention. It was hoped that this would enable a more efficient and time-saving element to the elections at the Convention.

I would interpret this as another well-meaning attempt to “make things better” by  changing the rules on the fly as opposed to following the procedures set out by Synod in convention and requiring Synod to accept the consequences.

However, while this seemed to be a good process to follow, the question surrounding this process has resulted in the following opinion:{NOT THE OPINION OF THE CCMS}

And here’s where we need to come to a full stop.

The only Commission that has the authority to render a binding opinion on a question pertaining to the meaning of an unclear portion of the Synodical documents is the Commission on Constitutional Matters and Structure (CCMS).  If the CNE felt there was an ambiguity that needed to be remedied then they should’ve asked the CCMS for an official ruling.

Continuing….

“giving… the ability to nominate even up to 10 days before a Convention is certainly more than generous but it does not negate the provision in 2.315,5 for candidates to be nominated from the floor“. There is a further proviso along with that opinion that it should be made very clear to the Conventions that nominating from the floor will require just as much documentation on the individuals nominated as may be required to vet that person adequately (as described in the Bylaws themselves). Such provisions cannot be changed at this point because of the existing Bylaws.

On this we’re agreed.

Here’s the CNE’s proposed solution:

THEREFORE , the CNE, while still believing that the process needs adjustments, and yet not wishing to violate any Synodical Bylaws, commits to the following. The ‘Nomination and Election process” at the District Conventions will allow “nominations from the floor” providing that all the requirements regarding the necessary documentation are fulfilled. (a) you have the written consent of the person to be nominated, and (b) the 2 page Candidate Profile has been completed and received by the CNE at least 10 days before the District Convention.

This will then require the information to be processed, copies made, and the information provided to all the voting delegates at the Convention. Then there will also be the necessary “giving of time” for the delegates to review such materials. Following this, the slate will be declared completed, announced so the action is clear. Then the ballots can be reset , have copies made, and be distributed among the delegates so that the voting process can take place, followed by the tabulation of votes that are cast, and the announcing of the results.

While I applaud the CNE’s desire to run a smooth series of elections, I submit that this 10 day limitation exceeds the CNE’s authority and here’s why.

Here’s what the synodical bylaws say about nominating a Synodical President (2.503f):

f. The Convention shall have the right to alter the slate at the proper time by amendment. The amendment procedure shall include merely a motion, a second, and a vote on the amendment, deliberately excluding verbal characterizations and discussion of the motion (except for the chair to ascertain that the requirements have been met as to the eligibility, consent, and the filing of the biographical form). Any delegate making a nomination from the floor shall have secured prior written consent of the candidate whom he wishes to nominate. Such delegate shall immediately submit to the secretary this document and written pertinent information concerning his nominee as detailed in bylaw 2.503e.

What I read this to say is that it is the nominating delegate’s responsibility to secure written assent from the nominee as well as provide the convention with the documentation required by 2.503e.

The process for nominating a Synodical Vice-President (2.513f) is identical – the nominating delegate is responsible for getting a signed assent from the nominee as well as provide the convention with the documentation required by 2.513e.

In both cases the CNE’s role is to verify that all required paperwork had been submitted and then present that information to the convention. Given that the nominating delegate is supposed to immediately provide the required paperwork on  making the nomination, the CNE cannot mandate they do so 10 days ahead of the convention.

The procedure for floor nominations of other Synodical offices is a little different as there’s no explicit requirement for the nominating delegate to do anything beyond making the nomination. Instead the CNE’s role is to confirm that the nominated candidate has passed the vetting process for the position as detailed in Bylaw 2.531 Nomination Processes:

5. If a nomination is made from the floor, the CNE should first check the accompanying documentation to be sure the person is adequately vetted before the name is put forward to the Convention

9. The chair of the Commission shall submit the Commission’s report in person to the Convention at one of its earliest sessions and immediately thereupon qualifying nominations may be made from the floor of the Convention.

What is adequate vetting? Bylaw 2.534 Vetting Process states:

1. Vetting of candidates for all individual or group positions shall be the responsibility of persons other than those who submitted the nominations.
2. The vetting process shall include:
a. a comparison of the candidate’s qualifications and competencies with those required for the position,
b. the affirmation of peers who can confirm the candidate’s qualifications and competencies,
c. demonstrated experience with the same or similar responsibilities as the position includes.

The bylaw details the vetting process for each of the positions and then concludes with –

12. The Commission shall confirm the previous vetting of anyone nominated from the floor for any elected position. Nominations from the floor shall be accepted if the conditions for candidacy including vetting are fulfilled.

For example, if someone wanted to make a floor nomination to the Regional Pastor position the vetting requirement is:

10. Regional Pastors
Candidates shall be vetted by the president in consultation with the regional pastors. Regional pastors being considered for re-election shall recuse themselves from the vetting process.

Since there’s no regional pastors and the SP only has to consult with them if there were, a floor nominee to the Regional Pastor position could be “vetted” with a simple assent by the Synodical President. Once that vetting process has been completed the CNE is mandated to accept the nomination.

What I haven’t found in the Synodical documents is anything that allows the CNE to mandate a “10 days before the convention” limitation on anything – documentation included.

Personally I think it’s a great idea and if Synod changes its “rule of law” to give the CNE the authority to limit the submission period then the CNE can do so. But as things stand now the CNE does not appear to have that authority.


As a closing note I’d observe that all the rules I’ve discussed pertain to Synod in convention and nothing else – including these District / Regional conventions. There’s also the small matter that the Synodical documents make no provision for filling the Regional Pastor positions outside of a Synodical convention starting with the 2021 Synodical Convention. This in turns means that Resolution 17.01.04a is without effect. See this article for my arguments why.

Update 2018-09-12: The Central District Workbook has similar language.

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