2023 Report of the CB&E Committee- NBI #8

The 2022 House of Delegates (HoD) passed an NBI asking the CB&E Committee to investigate and prepare a report for the 2023 TSTA HoD detailing what it would take to move the TSTA Statewide elections (President, Vice President, and NEA Director) from one that occurs at the HoD to an all-member ballot.

Key Elections Processes Considerations

The Committee identified several key considerations when evaluating all elections processes which are listed below in alphabetical order.

  • Accessibility/Participation
  • Cost
  • Compliance with Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) standards

LMRDA outlines standards for union elections. NEA upholds LMRDA standards for elections to the NEA Board.

  • Security – providing security and election integrity at every stage of the election process including a secure ballot, replacement ballot process, collection and tabulation, and ID checks.

Key Considerations: Eligible Voting Members

TSTA has a variety of memberships with unique governance rights that would impact who would be included and excluded from voting in an all-member statewide ballot.

  • TSTA-R: TSTA-R members belong to the TSTA-R statewide affiliate. This affiliate contains its governance structure separate to the structure for active members. TSTA-R members do not have any governance rights outside of the TSTA-R structure. They cannot hold office or vote in an active local.

An exception to this is found in the TSTA bylaws which provide a mechanism for TSTA-R members to elect TSTA Statewide Officers, At-Large Members, and NEA Directors via a representative vote employing a 1 delegate to 75 members or major fraction thereof ratio. Outside of voting through the HoD structure which can accommodate a representative ratio, TSTA-R members could not participate in statewide active member elections.

  • TSTA-AE: The same ratio logic applies to TSTA-AE as they have the same ratio. TSTA-AE members would not be able to participate in the election of statewide officers, statewide Board at Large members, and NEA Directors outside of voting through the HoD structure which can accommodate a representative ratio.
  • TSTA Life Members: Currently, there are approx.13,000 TSTA Life Members. This membership was last offered in 1973. This membership type is no longer offered. A TSTA Life Member can also join TSTA-R. TSTA Life Member governance rights are the same as active rights at the state level. If a member is both a TSTA Life Member and a TSTA-R member, the TSTA Life Member rights supersede. This means that these TSTA Life Members would participate in an all-member ballot statewide election for TSTA Officers and TSTA Board At-Large Members.
  • NEA Life Members: Currently, there are approx. 600 NEA Life Members. This membership type is no longer offered.  An NEA Life Member can also join TSTA-R. NEA Life Member governance rights are the same as active rights at the national level. If a member is both an NEA Life Member and a TSTA-R member, the NEA Life Member rights supersede. This means that these NEA Life Members would participate in an all-member ballot statewide election for NEA Directors.

Statewide Election All-Member Ballot Election Methods:

The following methods for conducting all-member statewide elections were identified:

  • Local Association Elections for Statewide Offices
  • Advocate Publication Ballot
  • Direct Mailing
  • Electronic Voting

Local Association Elections: Prior to elections being held at the HoD, statewide elections for State Officers and NEA Directors were conducted by local associations. TSTA would mail approved ballots and tally sheets to local presidents and locals would determine how to conduct elections that met state guidelines.

To implement this method, chartered locals would operationalize elections requiring locals to ensure a level of infrastructure and oversight to manage the process in a way that would meet the accessibility and security standards. This cost incurred to the local in this method depends on existing local frameworks such as communication channels.

Members of unchartered locals are not a part of a local with the infrastructure to conduct this election so they would need to be mailed directly by the state. The majority of TSTA and NEA Life Members are not part of a local association and would also need to be a part of the direct mailing by the state.

This method is a compilation of dozens of local mail ballot elections along with one statewide direct mail ballot. Each election would be evaluated as a stand-alone election to comply with LMRDA standards. The responsibility and liability for compliance would rest with each local who conducts an election in addition to the state-wide association which would conduct the direct mail election. There will need to be local and statewide processes to address returned mail; currently 20% of member mailing addresses are invalid.

The cost for this election will be 60K approximately at a minimum. It includes the labor, materials, and postage for local associations, along with the price of conducting a statewide direct mail election for members that are in unchartered locals or Life Members. In the event of a run-off election, the cost would double.

Advocate Publication Ballot: The TSTA Spring Advocate which is mailed to all members includes a ballot for the NEA-RA Statewide cluster elections. Eligible members are elected to serve as one-time delegates for the current year’s NEA-RA Convention. Voting eligibility is maintained by how return ballots are coded. For example, Active Members vote in statewide and district clusters while NEA-R Members vote for only the statewide cluster. The voter is responsible to vote only in the election that they are eligible for and the committee is responsible to count the votes for only the races that the voter is eligible for.

To implement this method, the vendor that inserts ballots would have to include an additional ballot into the Fall Advocate as the Spring Advocate would be reserved in the event of a runoff to ensure that individuals would be elected by the start of the TSTA Board of Directors year- July 15th. In the event of a Spring Advocate runoff ballot, the ballot may require an additional insert.

The Advocate ballot insert is not a scantron and is hand counted by the CB&E Committee; returns are usually around one hundred (100) ballots and most of the voters are not active members which means that the bulk of counting is the statewide election portion of the ballot. The insert is not a scantron so if more people participated in the election, there is a potential time and cost factor to hand counting all of the ballots that could potentially come back.

The current system does not have a double-envelope voting and instead relies on the individual voter not identifying themselves on the return envelope. Replacement ballots are sent upon request and return mail is not processed, currently 20% of member mailing addresses are invalid. This is also the one publication that is sent to all members, even if they have asked to not receive mail from TSTA. Returned mail may arrive past the election timeline due to the class of postage used for Advocate mailings. If Advocate election was scaled to be used to elect Statewide Officer and NEA Directors, additional processes would need to be put in place to address these issues.

The sustained feasibility of multiple inserts and double envelopes will rely on a combination of vendors along with the timelines for copy and distribution. This may impact election timelines as noted above regarding the Spring Advocate. This method places the process with vendors that serve primarily as magazine publishers versus union/association election services vendors which affect the processes that follow in the stages after ballot mailing.

The cost for this election is approximately 80K at a minimum.  The cost estimate includes more elaborate insert setups and return postage. It also factors in a process for replacement ballots and returned mail; these may include sending direct mail. It may also require another vendor to process and potentially to tally. In the event of a runoff, this cost could be incurred twice.

Direct Mail: This election involves putting one ballot in a double-envelope mailer. It, along with in-person representative assemblies are the only methods that NEA uses to conduct LMRDA compliant elections. These are the only elections that are deemed secure by NEA LMRDA standards.

To implement this method, there will be different ballots based on membership category eligibility. There will also be processes in place to address returned mail and replacement ballots as 20% of current TSTA addresses are invalid. In addition, an outside vendor will be employed.  The election would cost approximately 120K based on utilization, postage, materials, and vendor fees. In the event of a runoff, this sum could double. 

Electronic Voting: This election may only be used in statewide officer elections. It does not meet NEA-LMRDA standards. To implement this method for statewide officer elections, a decision needs to be made whether the election will be limited to online voting or there will be a back-up option for members who cannot participate in online voting. If the decision is made to provide a way to vote in addition to online voting, it will require a mail ballot election to those members. A mail back system would also need to be implemented for members without email addresses or with email addresses that are no longer valid. Currently, approximately 50% of TSTA Members either do not share an email with TSTA or the shared email is invalid.

The cost for this e-election is at a minimum 70K for the statewide officer election and approximately 80K for the statewide NEA Director Election. It includes an electronic ballot for the statewide election, a mail ballot for the statewide election members that cannot participate electronically, and in addition a statewide mail ballot election for all members excluding TSTA Life Members to vote for NEA Director. In the event of a runoff, this cost could be incurred twice.

The committee believes that it is also important to discuss the current system that elects Statewide Officers and NEA Directors for context. This election system is recognized as LMRDA compliant by NEA and employs a credentials committee to manage voting security onsite. This method also provides a mechanism to ensure ethnic-minority representation in the voting body based on NEA and TSTA policy. The cost to hold an election and potential runoff election is de minimis because it is part of an existing event.

TSTA Election Historical Data

NEA Director – Last Three (3) Elections

2022- Houston Omni Hotel

277 Registered Delegates Onsite

NEA Director- David Ring, Acclamation

2020 – Virtual HoD/Ballot to Registered Delegates

There were 364 ballots mailed and 288 ballots returned.

NEA Director for Texas Place 3:  Aaron Phillips 159, Arthur Robinson 122

NEA Director for Texas Place 2: Francisco Dionisio 148, Doris Hill 133

2019 – Frisco Embassy Suites

286 Registered Delegates Onsite

NEA Director for Texas Place 1: David Ring 175, Sheila Walker 111

TSTA President and TSTA Vice President – Last Three (3) Elections

2020 – Virtual HoD/Ballot to Registered Delegates

There were 364 ballots mailed and 288 ballots returned.

State President: Ovidia Molina, Acclamation

State VP: Linda Estrada 167, Richard “Rick” Beaule 120

2017- Houston Omni Hotel

375 Registered Delegates Onsite

State President: Noel Candelaria 271, Lakeisha Phillips 91

State Vice President: Ovidia Molina 227, Arthur Robinson 131

2014 – San Marcos Embassy Suites

496 Registered Delegates Onsite

State President: Noel Candelaria 295, Dale Kaiser 180

State Vice President:  Ovidia Molina 257, Rae Nwosu, 220

TSTA Bylaws and Polices that may need to be reviewed or amended

Bylaws – Article 5, Article 8

Board Policy – EP 1, 2, 3, 4