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How Not to Be Stumped on Fraternity Elections

At their core, fraternity chapters embody American democratic values. They function with a hierarchy of executive officers, but no brother is more important than any other, and no brother has absolute power.

No aspect of brotherhood better represents a chapter’s commitment to democracy than fraternity elections. By giving new brothers a chance each semester to run for president, treasurer, recruitment chair and so on, it creates balance and facilitates fresh ideas. It also allows brothers to vote for who they consider the best men for the jobs.

Brothers must take fraternity elections seriously and give due diligence. A mismanaged election can cause big trouble for a chapter both now and in the long run.

A bad president will quickly give his chapter a poor image, and his fast-and-loose management style will lead to a deterioration of values and work ethic. A lousy treasurer spells doom for chapter finances, which can cause many important chapter functions to grind to a halt. A lazy recruitment chair will saddle the chapter with either fewer or poorer quality brothers, which can haunt an organization for many semesters to come.

To avoid these mistakes, brothers should manage a professional election process, according to their chapter bylaws, and do everything in their power to ensure the most qualified candidates win.

Fraternity elections are the process by which chapters vote to shape the future of their brotherhood.

An election isn’t too complicated if you go by the book. Yet there are lots of little things brothers can do to smooth the process. Thus, it’s important to learn How Not to Be Stumped on Fraternity Elections.

Preparing for Fraternity Elections

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Will election night be a success?

That depends on how well brothers plan and prepare to ensure the best possible result. Without good planning, brothers may have a hard time keeping on schedule and getting the most out of the process.

Executive officers should carefully plan each stage of a fraternity election, beginning with candidate speeches. Officers can schedule candidate speeches for an earlier date than voting to help with time constraints. Often what drags a fraternity election off schedule, despite officers’ the best efforts, is when candidates speak beyond their allotted times (more on this below). By giving speeches on a different date, brothers can dedicate election night to casting ballots in a timely fashion.

Fraternity elections should run strictly according to chapter bylaws, meaning each executive officer should know his role in the election and plan accordingly. For instance, a fraternity president may preside over the election in a managerial role, ensuring that rules are followed and time limits kept. A communications officer will typically record the minutes of the election. Other officers may have other roles, depending on the chapter.

Plan to hold elections on a day that makes sense. If brothers already hold their chapter meeting on weekends, they should try this schedule to avoid school conflicts. Brothers may groan about a marathon weekend election, but if they’re told well enough in advance, they can still have the rest of the weekend to make social plans.

It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s better to schedule short breaks during the election process--especially during candidate speeches--so brothers don’t become too mentally fatigued, can hit the restroom and eat a quick snack, and can make informed, distraction-free decisions.

It helps to print a schedule and election plan that all executive officers understand and agree to. This can serve as a road map and action plan for brothers casting their ballots.

Election Night for Brothers

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While the election plan and schedule will facilitate a much smoother process, executive officers still need to strictly manage. Even if accidentally, brothers may go a bit over their time for fraternity election speeches and questions. If this happens continually, it adds up. Suddenly it’s 3am.

Cell phones, chewing gum, crinkly snack wrappers and other distractions should be disallowed during a fraternity election (except during breaks). To lend a professional air to the proceedings, suggest that brothers wear a collared shirt and tie, especially the candidates. If nothing else, brothers should wear their jerseys.

Ballots must be counted with care, and recounted if necessary. Physical ballots are a solid standard in fraternity elections. However, voting software can make life easier on brothers by securely casting and counting votes.

The Votes Are In, but What Comes Next?

Perhaps the most important part of any fraternity election is the officer transition period, during which current officers help newly elected officers assimilate into their positions. Prior to the election, the current officers will have already prepared records for new officers to study and advice to give. All officers are responsible for aiding in the transition period of their replacements.

New officers should shadow current officers prior to taking on the full responsibilities of their posts. They should have studied their roles and strategized their plans for the coming semester prior to being elected, and should cement this knowledge during the transition. They should ask questions and take notes. Even after the transition, new officers should be willing to consult with former officers when they falter.

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Fraternity elections require a lot of hard work and determination, but they are a labor of love brothers perform for their chapter, and the clearest demonstration of the democratic values on which they thrive. By going in with a strong election plan, electing the best possible officers, and transitioning smoothly from the old to the new, brothers ensure that everyone has a say in the future of their chapter and that the best ideas rise to the top.

OmegaFi knows that as the new guard comes in, managing the chapter budget can sometimes get lost in the mix. Our financial software and advisors are dedicated to helping chapters keep their budget running smoothly from semester to semester, so you don’t have to worry about it when election time rolls around.  Get in touch with OmegaFi if you’d like to talk more about how we can help.