General meeting 2022 – Constitutional amendments

The rationale sections are informative and are not part of the resolutions. Here is the current constitution for reference.

Resolution 1

The members of the Society of Research Software Engineering resolve that the following amendments be made to their constitution:

Add clause 10.4.4, reading

Any decision by the members to elect trustees of the CIO may be performed using a single-transferable vote based on a ranked-choice list of candidates. In this case, the specific version of single transferable vote used to choose the winners must be provided at the time that the voting opens.

Rationale: By default, as per clause 11.6.1, all decisions by the membership are by a simple majority. This currently includes the election of trustees. However, this is not always suitable. For example, a simple yes/no decision does not work well for when there are N candidates for M positions. 

We are proposing allowing the use of a single transferable vote (STV) system for elections where it is appropriate. This is a system designed for fairly selecting between candidates when there are multiple positions available and rules out traditional “tactical voting”. For more information on STV see details from the Electoral Reform Society, OpaVote and the Royal Statistical Society.

There are numerous variants of STV (e.g. Scottish STV or Meek STV), changing how votes are redistributed, which each have their pros and cons. To avoid locking this choice into the constitution we propose flexibility in the choice, but that it must be communicated clearly to the membership at election time.

Details and discussion on GitHub

Resolution 2

The members of the Society of Research Software Engineering resolve that the following amendments be made to their constitution:

Change clause 13.1 to read

At every annual general meeting of the members of the CIO, one halfthird of the charity trustees shall retire from office. If the number of charity trustees is not a multiple of twothree, then the number of trustees required to retire shall not exceed one halfthird of all trustees;

Rationale: At present one-half of the trustees stand down each year at the AGM. The trustees chosen to stand down are those who have been the longest in office (see clause 13.2). This means that there is an effective two-year term for trustees.

This leads to high churn in the board and a difficulty in maintaining institutional knowledge as well as lost time due to onboarding and mentoring of new trustees. In the recent governance review from the NCVO it was recommended that we alter this to a one-third stepping down (an effective three-year term) which is also the default in the Charity Commission’s model constitution. After extensive discussion among the trustees, we decided to propose this change to the membership.

Details and discussion on GitHub

Resolution 3

The members of the Society of Research Software Engineering resolve that the following amendment be made to their constitution:

Change clause 13.3 to read

TheTrustee vacancies so arising may be filled by the decision of the members at the annual general meeting; any vacancies not filled at the annual general meeting may be filled as provided in clause 13.4;

Rationale: At present, the only trustees that we are allowed to appoint at election time are vacancies “so arising” from the forced “half step down rule” in 13.1.

We propose a change so that we can appoint to vacancies which came from people voluntarily stepping down or being removed, rather than just those vacancies arising from the forced step-down.

Details and discussion on GitHub