First-time voter – CILIP 2011 Elections

I’ve been a member of CILIP (in various guises) since 2003 and every October, without fail, I receive my ballot form for the elections and think ‘Ooh I should really investigate that’ before I put the paper down somewhere, promptly forget all about it and rediscover the form about a month after the voting has finished.

(Actually, that’s not quite true. On occasion I have opened the envelope, looked at the form and promptly filed it in the recycling bin. Bad Jo.)

So, why did I decide to participate this year? Blame Twitter. For the first time I actually *knew* a few of the people running for Council and Vice-President of CILIP. I read the manifestos (for a change) and then did a slightly odd thing. I voted for the candidates that:

1.       I ‘knew’….in a virtual sense at least

2.       Didn’t mention UCL in their manifesto.

Ok, the first one is probably quite normal. In any given situation you’re likely to support the people you have some sort of relationship with, unless they’ve ‘wronged’ you and you’re set on revenge – ‘Pah! I disagree with their stance on copyright. I will show them who’s boss by not voting for them. BWAHAHAHAHA!’. The second reason is actually very pathetic but having been humiliated by that particular institution twice in my thirty years on this planet I tend to give it a wide berth. Incidentally I know some really nice people that went to UCL, good friends, etc., but still. I’m not proud of how I did it, I’m just saying.

Reader, I voted. I sent the form off, rather pleased with myself for not only completing the form but actually finding a stamp and a post box and posting it.

A couple of days later I started to feel…uneasy. Had I really made the right choices? Had I been seduced by people that were part of the Twitterati – the infamous Librarian Crowd – and had fed my ego (and therefore encouraged silly old me to vote for them) by replying to some inanity I’d voted on Twitter? Also, were people running on an unofficial slate and had I blindly – and stupidly – voted for the people on that slate?

Slate. For those that don’t know, at The Place That Shall Not Be Named (you’re bright, you’ll work it out) and probably other institutions but it’s the one I have experience of) a new student committee is elected every term and one of the peculiarities of their elections is that the nominees are not allowed to canvass for votes. Not publicly, anyway. It’s a well-known secret that people are buttered-up, people decide to run ‘together’ on the quiet and if candidate A, B, and C, all running for different positions and decide to co-ordinate their efforts, an agreement is made that any friends of candidate A will also vote for B and C, and so on. Officially, slates don’t exist, but everyone knows that they do and turns a blind eye, effectively (well, not always but that’s another story…).

So, there were (are) hashtags on twitter that imply that certain people are running together. They aren’t (as far as I know) but their similar views on certain issues make them a good team. I’m not a complete moron. I’d read the manifestos. I got the measure of the candidates through their Web 2.0 output. I felt I knew them well enough to believe that they would do a good job.

I spent a good week or so after posting my ballot off feeling a bit…used. Then I got over it. Only the truly Machiavellian (I encountered plenty of those in my brief stint at the Place That Shall Not Be Named) types deliberately set out to win friends and influence people. The people I voted for in the CILIP Elections had decided to run because they wanted to change things from the inside. They all seem like good, genuine people whom I have grown to like and respect. Heck, I’d happily go for a drink with them. Moreover, they are happy to put their heads above the parapet and advocate what we’ve all been thinking about the profession and about CILIP in particular (don’t get me started…) and for that I can only applaud them. I finally feel that, if elected, the people I’ve voted for might actually be able to represent the interests of the average information professional – if such a thing exists.

My reasons for voting the way I did may not be the most scientific but after seven years of apathy I finally put some crosses in some boxes, and voted.

No, I’m not telling you who I voted for… 😉

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5 thoughts on “First-time voter – CILIP 2011 Elections

  1. I can’t decide if I’m ashamed or not to admit it, but I have always voted in CILIP elections, and I have tended to vote for the people I know, even if only tangentially, in preference to unknown names. It was often people I’d encountered through the Career Development Group, although there was one year I was pleased to be able to vote for a lovely ex-boss : )

    Interestingly, this year it was even more of a case of deciding whether to vote for the names I knew or not: not through the traditional CILIP groups this time, but through Twitter. And did I really ‘know’ them at all if that was the extent of it? Guess we’ll all eventually find out whether we voted for the right people or not!

    • Why does that not surprise me? 😉

      Sounds like quite a few of us have done the same thing. The voting figures will be fascinating and if I wasn’t a Librarian with a Life I’d love to do some statistical analysis on them!

  2. Thank you for writing this post. I’ve been meaning to comment for days and days, because I’ve had various thoughts about the CILIP election this year, but I’ve not been able to work out quite what I want to say.

    Like you, this is the first time I’ve felt engaged with the election, and that’s mainly because of my, and the some of the candidates’, involvement with Twitter. But like you, I’ve also felt uncertain about my voting choices. I felt quite reluctant to vote, in a way, because I felt like I didn’t know *enough* to make a decision, and as though I couldn’t make a fair decision about the people I decided not to vote for. I think this is probably more my problem than one of the election itself – I find myself unwilling to base judgements on the way people present themselves in their manifestos and in the online hustings, despite the fact that these are exactly the media through which I am supposed to make my decision.

    So maybe my comment is just: choosing whom to vote for is hard if you care about the organisation you’re voting for and you think your vote will make a difference.

    • Unlike a political election where you essentially vote for the party, in the CILIP elections you’re actually voting for an individual, based on their beliefs, personality (yes it matters)and ability to do the job. Therefore you’ll always go for the familiar over the unknown because that’s human nature isn’t it?

      After I published this post I wondered whether I had done the right thing. Was I right to be so honest about my voting habits? Would the candidates be angry? However, I strongly suspected that I was voicing something that was interesting to a number of people and so it has proved – both on the blog and elsewhere.

      I think this IS the first CILIP election that will be decided on Twitter and maybe that isn’t actually a bad thing…

  3. Sorry to be late in on this one. I found your post really interesting. On a factual point, CILIP is perfectly happy for people to campaign on behalf of other people, so groupings of #votehashtags are legally, morally and ethically acceptable. I’m also happy to be very upfront about who I was/am/did vote for. Of course, *if* I get elected (and that’s by no means any kind of certainty – there is another excellent candidate) I’d work with anyone who the members voted for. If you’re not sure of how a candidate stands on a position you can always ask them in email or via the hustings, and I don’t think it matters if you’ve already voted – their response may affect others who have not yet voted. Hope that sets your mind to rest, 🙂

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