By Ryan Murphy
The Working Press
Last year, only delegates representing chapters were eligible to vote in the Society of Professional Journalists’ national officer elections.
Officials said 830 votes were cast in SPJ’s first “one member, one vote” election for national officers, which accounted for about 11 percent of the 7,371 ballots emailed to members.
SPJ has a total membership of about 8,000.
“I think it exceeded expectations, to be honest … 800 is pretty darn good for the first year,” said Joe Skeel, SPJ’s executive director. “I think it’s a great start. I hope to build on it.”
Not only did SPJ members not have to leave their hotel rooms to vote, they didn’t even have to attend the convention. All voting took place online between Thursday and Saturday afternoons.
This is the first year that national officers were elected by popular vote. Previously, SPJ convention delegates only would cast a single vote on behalf of their chapters.
Last year’s delegation voted to change the election rules to give every SPJ member a say in choosing national officers.
“To go from 70 or 80 (voters) to over 800 is a massive jump,” Skeel said.
He said many of those who voted had positive things to say about the change.
“The opportunity to vote was really appreciated by those who cast a ballot,” Skeel said.
He noted that many SPJ members join for the local benefits and sometimes don’t pay as much attention to events and proceedings at the national level.
Skeel said he hopes the new voting structure will lead others, especially those who would not have known about elections, to vote.
“I hope it does open some doors and spark some interest,” he said. “I’d like to see what would happen if we had a slate with a higher number of contested elections.”
In the general election, only races for at-large director, region 4 director and student representative had any competition.
SPJ Election Results
David Cuillier, President-elect
Dana E. Neuts, Secretary-treasurer
Carl Corry, At-Large director
Kym Fox, Campus adviser at-large
Donald Meyers, Region 9 director
Patricia Gallagher Newberry, Region 4 director
Susan Stevens, Region 5 director
Eddye Gallagher, Region 8 director
David Sheets, Region 7 director
Mary S. Kenney, Student representative
Meg Wagner, student representative