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The Planet

Frequently Asked Questions About the Election

  1. Why is voting in Club board of directors elections so important? The Sierra Club is a democratically structured organization that requires the regular flow of views on policy and priorities from its grassroots membership in order to function well. Yearly participation in elections at all Club levels is a major membership duty. Your board of directors, which is required to stand for election by the membership, sets Club policy and budgets at the national level and works closely with the staff to run the Club. Voting for candidates who express your views on how the Club should grow and change is both a privilege and responsibility of membership.
  2. How can I participate when I don't know any of these people? How do I learn more? Talk with your group and chapter leadership and other experienced members you know. Read the ballot statement of each candidate online and/or in the ballot you receive in the mail. Visit the Club's Web site - - where there's a candidates' forum in which each candidate answers questions posed by various Club leaders. Or contact the candidates by telephone, e-mail, or post. They do want to hear from you!
  3. What is the election schedule? The Nominating Committee starts its work in the fall of each year, presents its candidates to the board at its November meeting, and announces them publicly to the general membership following the close of that meeting. Petition candidates have until the official close of nominations in early January to collect the required number of signatures from members. Ballot statements are prepared by candidates and then printed in a ballot pamphlet that accompanies the ballot mailed to all members beginning in late January. Ballots must be cast by noon EDT April 25. The Inspectors of Election report the results of the election to the secretary of the Club and other key leaders within a few hours after the voting ends.
  4. What is the difference between a Nominating Committee candidate and a petition candidate? A Nominating Committee candidate has been interviewed by the Nominating Committee, which conducts a search for candidates during the spring, summer, and fall of each year. Their search is widely publicized, and members are encouraged to suggest potential candidates. A petition candidate is one who is nominated by members of the Club at large through the petition process, which requires a specific number of signatures based on a percentage of the number of members in the Club. (This year that number is 381.)

  5. Who are the Inspectors of Election and what is their role? The Inspectors are three Club members who have been appointed by the board of directors. One is appointed Chief Inspector and the others as Associate Inspectors. The Chief Inspector coordinates the work of the three Inspectors and interacts with the Club secretary on election-related matters, as well as with Club staff that have election responsibilities. The California Nonprofit Corporation Code requires the appointment of Inspectors of Election and gives them broad authority to supervise all aspects of the national election process for the Club. As part of this supervision, the Inspectors resolve disputes that arise during the election cycle and ensure the fairness of all aspects of the election in accordance with the Club's Bylaws and Standing Rules as well as relevant sections of the California Nonprofit Corporation Code. The Inspectors also use guidelines published with the election schedule for each election cycle.
  6. Who counts the ballots? A professional service with long experience in conducting elections for national organizations is employed to handle the Club-wide election. This firm handles the details from printing the ballots and pamphlet, mailing, and the secure electronic recording and tallying of the ballots as they arrive both by post and by Internet.
  7. Will the Club have "free speech" Web sites for candidates and ballot questions this year? Candidates and ballot question coordinators will for the first time be able to create Web links to non-Club sites of their choosing from a Club-sponsored site. Under the rules issued by the Organizational Effectiveness Governance Committee and the Communication and Education Governance Committee, the Club may provide links from the Club-sponsored election Web site to sites of the candidates' choosing. Go to for more.
  8. May chapters and groups endorse candidates for the board of directors? As a one-year trial, the board of directors has authorized chapter executive committees to endorse candidates for the 2005 election. The rules for such endorsement are quite strict and are found under the heading "One-Year Experimental Policy on Chapter Endorsements" which is located at the end of SR 5-2-6 in the election bylaws, rules, and election policies.
  9. May chapters and groups endorse ballot questions? Yes. Chapters and groups, through their respective executive committees, may take positions on ballot questions at regular or special meetings. If a position is taken, it may be transmitted via an editorial in the entity's regular newsletter. Other information (letters to the editor, official statements by ballot question position coordinators) must be balanced for pro and con views when published in newsletters. Only the editorial should report the official position of the entity's governing body. No newsletter may accept advertising promoting a position on a ballot issue.

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