Femme Collective Voting Policy & Procedure

All major decisions (defined as anything that impacts the conference as a whole) will be vetted to the Steering Committee (made up of all the committee chairs, conference chairs, and group coordinators) either through Coordinator reports or, when necessary, all-Steering Committee conference calls.  All decisions will be made through democratic voting (outlined below).  All voting will be done via online polling so that votes are both public and recorded.  Voting must take place within the time frame established for that vote; no vote will be given less than 3 days for voting.  

Conference Chairs will call votes on all major decisions.  All votes will be held within a reasonable time and following email/conference call discussion of the issue by all Groups and/or Steering Committee as a whole.  Any Steering Committee Chair is allowed to call a vote either through their Coordinator or by speaking directly to Conference Chairs.  No Coordinator or Conference Chair may refuse to call a vote that a Steering Committee Chair has requested nor may they delay the calling of such a vote.

Decisions made during Steering-wide conference calls can be immediate, and all decisions made by the Steering committee *must* be voted on according to the Steering Committee’s democratic process (outlined below).  Committee/Chair decisions — aspects of the conference that are being organized and run by commitees/conference chairs are the responsibility of said chairs and will be made internally by committees according to the process each committee agrees to; these decisions will be reported on to Coordinators by chairs in “chair reports” by email or phone for response and feedback.  Coordinator reports must be submitted at least monthly (or more frequently as needed).  Coordinators are responsible for informing Conference Chairs of committee decisions in monthly calls (and by email/personal call if more immediate notification is prudent).

Voting Policy: Yes, No, and Hell No.  Here’s how it works: everyone gets to vote.  If all votes cast are yes or no, majority rules.  If a Steering Committee member votes “hell no”, then the decision cannot be made until further discussion occurs.  This means a “hell no” vote stops the action being voted on until the concerns that are voiced by the “hell no” voter are addressed to that person’s satisfaction.  Whenever possible, a “hell no” vote will result in a Steering Committee-wise conference call as soon as possible.  If not all Steering Committee members can make said call, discussion can occur over email, but Conference Chairs must speak directly to the “hell no” voter in person or on the phone before casting their vote.  After discussion, another vote is held and majority rules (unless another “hell no” vote is cast, but this situation shouldn’t arise if we’re working together well; if it does happen, we need to talk and it’s good to know that).

This process allows for democratic process (people vote “no” if they disagree, but are able to trust the group’s decision), but it allows for an override of majority and creates the space for minority voters to be heard on important issues.  The “hell no” option is used sparingly by all involved, ’cause if someone is voting “hell no” often, it’s clear that there’s an issue that goes deeper than the things being voted on or the thing being voted on is in direct conflict with one (or more) organizer’s core values for themselves or the conference.  “Hell no” votes are rare in the process, but their possibility keeps all of us atuned to the importance of listening to one another and prevents mob-mentality from carrying the day in a heated discussion.