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American Association for Public Opinion Research

Voting is Important to Determining How AAPOR Grows and Functions

by Mary E. Losch, Councilor at Large; Tim Triplett, Standards Chair; and Ashley Kirzinger, Associate Standards Chair
Voting and its place in decision-making and governance have been looming large the past year—both nationally and within AAPOR. Thus far, we have reviewed, commented on and voted to adopt a Conduct Policy; amended the Bylaws; and we are in the midst of voting on the AAPOR Code of Professional Ethics and Practices after previously reviewing and commenting. Voting on your preferred candidates for the next Executive Council (EC) is also taking place this spring. 

I am sure that the many reminders have often felt like “one more thing” in a year when we are exhausted and many of us feel like we have only one nerve left. But your participation and your input have been and continue to be invaluable to the health and structure of AAPOR as we grow and evolve. It’s easy for all of us to fall back on the notions that 1) we have an elected council to make decisions; 2) we don’t know enough about [fill in the blank] to contribute; or 3) we don’t have time.  Let’s unpack each one a bit.

AAPOR has been blessed with decades of hard-working volunteers who dedicate many hours to their work on AAPOR’s behalf from the many committees to the Executive Council. And while those perspectives are important and valuable and the election process aims to put forward a diverse cross-section, the EC cannot represent the full constellation of experience and knowledge held by our broad membership. The organization is structured, intentionally, to have key decisions be driven by member votes and viewpoints. That can only happen with substantial participation by the membership. The Executive Council is an important part of the governance structure but it is only one part. 

I encourage you not to sell yourself short or succumb to “imposter syndrome” as you consider whether to engage in various policy and election votes. Your experiences and training have brought you to AAPOR. We are glad you’re here and your perspective is important to us. For our organization to ably serve its membership, we need the perspectives of those in early and mid-career positions. We work hard to make sure that members are provided with substantive information about the policies and amendments being considered. We also describe the rationale for the new content, deleted content and revisions being put forward. And this brings us to the next challenge.

Time—our most valuable commodity. It’s important for all of us to decide how we are going to spend ours. And many of these votes do require an investment both of time and of intellectual effort. I can’t make that decision for anyone else but I will argue that the outcomes of our votes matter to our work and often to our careers. They help provide some of the cultural context in which we work. Our Bylaws provide an important framework to guide our structure and governance—recently adding an Inclusion and Equity Committee points us in an intentional direction for how we want to operate. Our recent adoption of a Conduct Policy has communicated the values we place around respect for one another. And now, as membership is voting on our Code of Professional Ethics and Practices, we are deciding on the standards for those both within and outside of AAPOR.   

This is all to say that, while we recognize that these voting activities come with a certain amount of burden, I hope you can also see them as an opportunity and responsibility to shape AAPOR in a way that will allow it to continue to serve you well for decades to come.