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Vote early, vote often

tedThis is a plea. Not a rant, not a puff, but a plea. I plead with you to take a few moments, and vote.

Unusually, because of timetabling difficulties, this year’s Council elections (which include an election for President-Designate) are opening ‘online first’. The usual full statements from all candidates will be printed in the March issue, with which we shall also circulate ye olde ballottynge papyr. However, all that information is already available on our new website, and all Fellows are able to vote at

Here at BH, the days are gone when balloting envelopes would be opened in sepulchral reverence in a sealed basement room. Nowadays, any postal ballots are simply entered into the online ballot on the sender’s behalf – staff performing the mouse-clicks we would prefer you to make yourself. (It may sound faintly ludicrous that we still do this, but we recognise that not everybody has access to the interwebs, and nobody should be disenfranchised, either by their geographical isolation, arthritis or even Luddism.)

Not so many years ago, I recall, the Society sometimes found it hard going to scare up enough candidates to fill the available positions on Council. Those days are also, happily, gone; but the Society’s efforts to make serving its Board of Trustees more attractive, and to increase the diversity of candidates to include traditionally under-represented groups (women, ethnic minorities, applied geologists), will be brought to nought if a wider section of the Fellowship does not actually then turn out and vote.

Governments know well that pensioners are the most diligent voters. But while no-one would deny pensioners their say, we would not wish to subject ourselves to a government of pensioners by pensioners for pensioners. Analysis of the Society’s voting pattern suggests that its more diligent voters tend not only to be older, but by inclination, more academic - and male. Indeed, when I last looked at any voting statistics, I felt I might be forgiven for thinking we were a Gentlemen’s Society of London for the History of Geochemistry. As people, we tend, alas, to vote for other people most like ourselves. Thus the cause of diversity is only served when suffrage truly is universal.

Participation in Society plebiscites has never much exceeded a fairly miserable (though by the standards of other learned societies or Mutual Building Societies, a rather respectable) 10%. We can do better than this. It has never been easier, or cheaper!

Do it now. Vote for Mickey with your mouse.

Ted Nield