I was a witness to these elections, and with all due respect to everyone involved, this ruling seems a little insane. No one took minutes? Really?
This is shameful.
To: Young Democrats of America National Committee
CC: Mr. Rod Snyder, Acting YDA President, Ms. Emily Robinson, YDA Secretary
From: YDA Judicial Council Chair Matthew Silverstein (on behalf of the YDA Judicial Council)
Date: July 16, 2010
Re: Judicial Council Recommendation Regarding Young Democrats of Louisiana Elections
1. On or about June 1, 2010, the Young Democrats of America was notified by Ralph Johnson of the following concerns:
1. Christopher Plummer, YDL EVP, through his capacity as Election Commissioner, had placed a restriction on the acceptance of proxy votes of members of YDL. This restriction was that the proxies had to be delivered by June 9, 2010 in order to be counted. YDL’s convention was to be held on June 11, 2010.
2. Christopher Plummer, YDL EVP, through his capacity as Election Commissioner, had removed Ralph Johnson’s name from the ballot as a candidate for president of YDL. Mr. Johnson had previously been certified as a candidate for president of YDL.
3. A candidate for president of YDL, Jason Hughes, of Orleans Parish had allegedly been certified as a candidate in violation of the YDL Constitution.
2. Mr. Johnson, at that time, requested review of these allegations by the YDA Judicial Council and the assistance of YDA.
3. Following a review of the YDL constitution, YDA declined involvement and instructed Mr. Johnson to seek the review of the YDL Rules and Charter Committee.
4. Mr. Johnson, in his capacity as president of YDL, called a meeting of the Rules and Charter committee of YDL. The YDL Rules and Charter committee is chaired by the EVP of YDL by virtue of the YDL Constitution. Christopher Plummer objected to the holding of a meeting which had not been called by the chair, himself. A motion was made by a member of the committee to hold a meeting to hear the matters, which was seconded by another member of the committee.
1. The president of YDL has the authority to populate the committees, and Mr. Johnson had done so following YDA’s instruction to have the committee review the issue. Allegedly these members were approved by a vote of the Executive Committee of YDL.
2. After a number of questions were asked of Mr. Plummer, he left the call.
3. The committee then voted to remove Mr. Plummer as Elections Commissioner, voted to replace Mr. Plummer with Charlee Renaud, and voted to reinstate Mr. Johnson on the ballot as a candidate for president of YDL.
5. YDL convention and elections were held on June 11, 2010.
6. On June 15, 2010, YDA was asked to refer to the Judicial Council for review a complaint of a number of procedural deficiencies occurring during YDL state convention with regard to the election of National Committee members (President, National Committeewoman and Committeeman). This request was made jointly by Ralph Johnson and Katrina Rogers.
7. A request for more detailed information was made by acting YDA President Rod Snyder.
8. On or about June 17, 2010 YDA received a supplemental memorandum establishing twelve more detailed complaints of deficiencies from Ralph Johnson and Katrina Rogers. Those complaints are as follows:
1. The elections chairman failed to properly put rules in place for the Election of National Committee Members (i.e. State President and National Committeewoman) and subsequently the entire elected YDL Executive Committee.
2. The elections chairman systematically ignored constitutional provisions within our YDL Constitution and YDA Charter and Bylaws as well as he failed to consult or utilize Robert’s Rules of Order as required in our constitution.
3. The elections chairman was partial and biased maintaining and having inappropriate conversations with other candidates that were not privy to all candidates, including but not limited to developing and strategizing schemes to influence elections and sharing improper information with other candidates to whom he was aligned in an effort to aid their activities.
4. The elections chairman unilaterally disqualified a candidate from the elections on inappropriate grounds without the authority to do so. After which, YDA was consulted and stated that the YDL Rules & Charter Committee had original jurisdiction of the matter. The Committee was constituted and met to adjudicate the matter with, an YDA Representative present, and made several decisions overruling prior decisions of the elections chairman. The said chairman ignored those rulings.
5. The elections chairman disenfranchised membership by requiring members who submitted proxies to have registered and paid registration for the convention, but gave them no prior notice that there was a requirement for the proxies to be accepted until after registration and the business session had been called to order by the state president. There had been no notification in any previous correspondence to membership or officers that this would have been a requirement. Never before has registration for the meeting or payment of registration been a requirement to submit a proxy at any meeting, conference, or convention of Young Democrats of Louisiana. It violates YDA discrimination clauses in regards to economic status as well as DNC and LDP rules.
6. The elections chairman in conflict with item 5 (which is inappropriate) allowed those who were present, but had not registered and/or paid to vote.
7. The elections chairman allowed proxy votes to be voted inconsistent with the instructions and/or wishes, in writing and verbally, of the person issuing such proxy.
8. The elections chairman ignored the membership wishes when a vote was called for stating “he had the power to make the decision and a motion would be improper,” thus leaving a duly made and seconded motion to overturn him on the convention floor under threat of calling campus police if it was persisted, thereby forcing members to be silent on issues they would have otherwise spoke up against and vote under duress, a clear method of voter intimidation.
9. The elections chairman promulgated and allowed violations to occur inconsistent with YDA CHARTER ARTICLE XI, SECTION 1115 Requirements; Restrictions. No law or rule of any chartered unit may conflict with this Charter and any provision which does so conflict shall be null and void. Every unit shall be required to hold a general convention not less than biennially. The National Committee shall have authority to revoke the Charter of any unit for violation of any law or rule of the Democratic Party, at any level. Restrictions on voting commonly referred to as “unit rule” are prohibited. Units shall not discriminate on the grounds of race, religion, national origin, economic status, gender or sexual orientation.
10. The elections chairman promulgated and allowed violations to occur inconsistent with YDA CHARTER ARTICLE XI, SECTION 1140 Rules. Each official body of the Young Democrats of America created under the authority of this Charter shall adopt and conduct its affairs in accordance with written rules, which rules shall be consistent with the Charter and the Bylaws and other provisions adopted pursuant to authority of the Charter, including resolutions or other actions of the National Convention or National Committee. The National Committee shall maintain copies of all such rules and shall make them available upon request.
11. The elections chairman promulgated and allowed violations to occur in direct violation of YDA’s guarantees to members in YDA Charter Article XI, Section 1150 in particular Sections 1150(a), 1150(e), and 1150(f).
12. The elections chairman promulgated and allowed violations to occur inconsistent with YDA BYLAWS ARTICLE, SECTION 405 Selection of Chartered Unit Representation. Each chartered unit shall provide for the selection and, where vacancies occur, the replacement of its representatives on the National Committee. Each unit shall provide certification to the Secretary of their representatives, and such certification shall be made by the presiding officer of the chartered unit they represent provided, however, that such certification may be waived by the National Committee by a two-thirds (2/3) vote.
9. On June 20, 2010, Matthew Silverstein, Chair of the YDA Judicial Council called for a meeting, to be held on June 30, 2010, of the YDA Judicial Council after being referred the issue by the President in accordance with Section 830 of the YDA Bylaws.
10. A meeting of the YDA Judicial Council was held on June 30, 2010. In the meeting, lasting over two hours, testimony from numerous members of YDL was presented concerning the conduct of the elections of YDL on July 11, 2010. A second hearing was called for to be held on July 11, 2010.
11. On July 1, 2010, the YDA Judicial Council was presented with numerous emails and documents generated leading up to the State Convention of YDL. A recording of the YDL Rules and Charter Committee meeting occurring on June 9, 2010.
12. On July 11, 2010, the YDA Judicial Council convened for a second meeting to provide time for additional witness testimony.
Analysis of Pertinent Testimony
The focus of the question referred to the YDA Judicial Council and thereby the focus of this opinion, and these recommendations, is upon the propriety of the YDL elections concerning the President, National Committeeman and National Committeewoman as they have an active role in YDA and YDA has a direct interest in assuring the legitimacy of elections of its own officials.
It became clear through questioning and testimony presented during both meetings of the Judicial Council that no official minutes were taken of the YDL State Convention. No official record of events was available to be presented, and, therefore, the YDA Judicial Council was forced to rely on often conflicting witness testimony as to the conduct of the elections of the YDL officials, most importantly YDL officials that, by virtue of their office, hold seats on the National Committee of YDA.
A few facts were uncontested, and confirmed with the testimony of Christopher Plummer: the credentials committee of YDL neither met, nor provided a report to convention, as to the authenticated voting members of YDL; and no attempt was made to reference, follow or utilize the procedures required by the YDL Constitution, YDA Charter and Bylaws, and/or Robert’s Rules of Order. It was also uncontested that certain proxies were denied, based upon the requirement that the alleged YDL members submitting proxies register for convention, which was put into effect on the day of convention without prior notice. Un-contradicted testimony was offered that had these proxies been counted the results of the elections would have been different.
These facts alone warrant the following opinion and recommendations. It is the opinion of the YDA Judicial Council that the Young Democrats of Louisiana’s attempted convention of June 11, 2010 was so devoid of proper order and procedure that the election results cannot be considered as official acts of the Young Democrats of Louisiana.
Furthermore, we recommend to the YDA National Committee that it provide guidance to the officials of YDL and oversee the rules and procedures concerning an upcoming election to be scheduled by the YDL. Additionally, we recommend that the involvement of the YDA Southcentral Region Director be requested, as well as the involvement of the Democratic Party of Louisiana. We also recommend that YDA provide active guidance to YDL in revising its Constitution and Bylaws.
Upon motion, the YDA Judicial Council unanimously recommends that the YDA National Committee disregard, void and invalidate the attempted elections and the results flowing from the YDL convention of June 11, 2010.
The election results have not been certified as valid by the President of YDL, as is required by the Charter and Bylaws of the YDA prior to the seating of National Committee members from that state. We also recommend that the National Committee suspend and deny the seating of the President, National Committeeman and National Committeewoman from the State of Louisiana until a new and proper election is conducted.
Sometimes, sunshine can hurt, but it’s absolutely imperative. As I said earlier, I was present for these elections.
I don’t dispute the integrity of the YDA Judicial Committee’s findings, but I also reject the validity of proxy votes for an organization under probationary status.
There are two sides to every story, of course, but anyone who attended the convention should be able to attest to the complete pandemonium. It’s not too surprising that YDA felt the need to intervene.
Still, it’s disheartening– not because it invalidated the elections of some good people who simply wanted to serve, but because it speaks to an overall lack of unity and professionalism.