Sierra Club 1998 Population Ballot Questions


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The following ballot questions were placed on the 1998 Sierra Club ballot:


SUSPS Petitioners' position

Confusing Board position

A. Petitioner's Ballot Question
"Shall the Sierra Club reverse its decision adopted 2/24/96 to 'take no position on immigration levels or on policies governing immigration into the United States'; and adopt a comprehensive population policy for the United States that continues to advocate an end to U.S. population growth at the earliest possible time through reduction in natural increase (births minus deaths), but now also through reduction in net immigration (immigration minus emigration) ?"

B. Board Ballot Question
The Sierra Club affirms the decision of the Board of Directors to take NO position on U.S. immigration levels and policies. The Sierra Club can more effectively address the root causes of global population problems through its existing comprehensive approach: The Sierra Club will build on its effective efforts to champion the right of all families to maternal and reproductive health care, and the empowerment and equity of women; and the Sierra Club will continue to address the root causes of migration by encouraging sustainablity, economic security, health and nutrition, human rights and environmentally responsible consumption.


SUSPS requested you to:

  • vote YES for the Petitioners' Ballot Question A to reverse the "gag rule" policy,
  • DO NOT vote for the "take no position" Board Ballot Question B.


Here are the results of the election.
When you think about it, the petitioner's question implicitly included fundamental policies contained in the Board of Directors question. In addition, the Board of Directors question (which supports pro-immigration Club policy) was completely unnecessary because it contained no change in policy which members must approve.
Confusing? That was the Board of Directors intent...

  • The petitioners' question was placed on the ballot by legitimate grassroots member petitions, received as of January 1997.
  • The "take no position" ballot question was added by the Board of Directors in September of 1997 so that members would have to choose between two similarly-worded statements. There is no other reason for introduction of the "take no position" question, since a no vote on the petitioners' "reverse" question would effectively leave policy as-is.
  • Then the Board, on November 16, 1997, voted to change the ballot presentation from "Yes or No on either question A or B" to "Vote Yes for question A or question B".
  • Based upon Elections Inspectors objections, the A vs. B choice on the November 16 Board resolution violates Bylaw 11.1. The Inspectors stated, "It is obvious why the board of directors would want to put its own resolution on the ballot against the initiated question, rather than just making a well argued ballot statement: many voters may read the initiated resolution but not the ballot statements... Putting an opposing resolution on the ballot may catch the eye of these voters before they vote." The Board was forced to drop the word "quotas" and rephrase their statement on January 13, 1998. (Contrary to bylaws, it is still not expressed as a question).


Fair? Democratic? You decide.


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