Hands-On Testing and Analysis

Vote No on VMUG Board

Today I once again received an email from the national VMUG asking me to “vote” for their hand selected slate of candidates. When I went to the website I was presented with the three names of people the VMUG nominations committee hand selected and the opportunity to vote yes or no on the slate as a whole. Ladies and gentlemen this is how elections are run in North Korea where Kim Jong Un was elected with 100% of the vote in March of 2014.

OK the VMUG election is a bit fairer than the North Korean version, you can’t be shot for not voting and there is the opportunity to vote no.

However just like the North Korean election the actual voting will have no effect on who is “elected” the candidates have been handpicked, in secret, in a smoke-filled (ok only metaphorically smoke-filled as indoor smoking has been banned in most places) room and we the electorate are expected to rubber stamp the board and nominating committee’s choice and be happy with our bread and circuses.

The election email didn’t even talk about the candidates, and got one of their names backwards listing:

  • Association Director: Heinz-Hermann Adam
  • Association Director: Ben Clayton
  • Association Director: Brian Chylik

Where it’s pretty clear that Adam is Mr. Hienz-Hermann’s given name. (Correction it appears Heinz-Hermann is Mr. Adam’s given name and VMUG got it right)

The email didn’t even include links to the candidates’ biographies and statements. Those were only available from the survey page for voting. Real elections are about issues and candidates, not getting a sufficient number of approvals for what has already been decided.

This “election” is so broken that I voted NO and I urge you to do the same. Only if the number of no votes is significant can we, the members and primary stakeholders of VMUG, get a real say in the management of the organization. I will continue to vote no for all candidates until:

  • The nomination process is made public. All nominated candidates, with their bios and campaign statements should be posted on a VMUG election site. The board can endorse candidates but the process has to move out of the smoke-filled room.
    • If there are a lot of candidates have a primary, online elections aren’t expensive
  • The ballot MUST include more candidates than there are offices. 4 candidates for 3 board seats is better than take it or leave it.
  • Even better allow write in candidates and campaigns
  • At very least that allow voting for or against individual candidates. I don’t know any of the three candidates but if Clyde Snodgrass was a candidate and I knew him to be a bad guy I should be able to vote against Clyde and for the other candidates

I’ve served on the board of non-profits before including NYACC (The New York Amateur Computer Club) and NYPC (New York PC User’s Group) and am well aware of the fact that 5% or less of an association’s members do all the work. That it’s hard to recruit people to serve isn’t an excuse for hand-picking your board.

If asked I will stand for any open seat and serve to the best of my ability. I will make calls and find good candidates. The VMUG board can find candidates, they have to make the public effort.

I will NOT put my name in nomination to the current secret process.

Until we, the voters get to choose the board and officers of national VMUG I will vote NO on every candidate and I urge you to do the same.

Let me be very clear here I do not know the candidates in this election. My objections are not to the people but to the very broken process. These are volunteer positions and I’m sure are hard work, candidates should be encouraged. My objection is to the secret process that makes it easy for a self-perpetuating board to do whatever they want regardless of the membership’s wishes.

Until VMUG elections look more like US or UK elections and less like the old Soviet Union elections I vote NO.

  • Jim Millard

    According to the bylaws (; Article VI, Section I.D.c.) a “NO” vote on the slate results in a general election, so this wouldn’t be simply “tilting at windmills”.

  • Interesting that Article VI 1.D.e says “Write-in candidates may be accepted according to VMUG’s BGPs.” but no write in candidates are allowed.

    Of course those referenced BGPs aren’t anywhere easy to find on the VMUG site either. I’m just a geek so BGP is Boundary Gateway Protocol to me.