This week, the ALA Council's list is buzzing over the Association's move to an all-electronic voting system for the forthcoming election of officers and Council members. Of course any member of the Association is still going to be able to obtain a paper ballot on demand. Nevertheless, many are concerned that voting via the internet might pose a hardship for some members. From inside ALA, I can assure you that any member who is unable or unwilling to vote electronically will be accommodated, but to argue in 2008 that we should stick with paper ballots and the U.S. Postal Service seems futile. As it is, the ALA election runs from October (nominations were announced this week) until June (winners appear in American Libraries print). That's nine months, the same amount of time it takes to produce a child.
As councilor Christine Hage so aptly put it, “I may be off on my numbers, but I believe that ALA has about 65,000 members of which fewer that 20,000 vote. Members have several weeks in which to cast their ballots. The voting process probably takes less than 30 minutes. If find it hard to believe that a member of ALA, who actually is going to vote, would have difficultly gaining computer access for 30 minutes sometime in a two--three week window that voting takes place. If library staff or those associated with libraries are not able to get on a computer to vote, we have bigger problems than ALA voting."
Councilor Ria Newhouse put it even more bluntly: "WHY do we continue to go around and around about this when the option to have a paper ballot STILL exists? No one has (yet) proposed a total elimination! Until someone makes that proposal, it very much appears that all members are still being accommodated, so let's quit arguing about it."