Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Fulfilling Our Duty

If someone asked you to describe ASSE, what would be your answer? Can you tell them how large the Society is, how old the organization is, how we operate?

ASSE is a great Society that has existed for more than 100 years. It has grown from a handful of insurance casualty inspectors in one city to nearly 34,000 members residing in more than 70 countries. We are a Society governed by its members, for its members and their profession. We have a 16-member board and all except ASSE's executive director, who is a nonvoting member, are volunteer leaders elected by the members. All of our councils, committees and task forces are composed of members volunteering their time.

 The future of our Society is in our hands, yet only 17% to 19% of ASSE members vote in the annual election of the Society's leaders. As members, it is our right to vote in our chapter, region and Society elections. More importantly, it is our duty to vote. Not everyone has the opportunity to be a volunteer leader, but we can all vote. And it's not just the act of voting that is important. We need to cast informed votes.

 To provide a level field and to act in complete fairness, ASSE restricts campaigning by and for candidates for office. So how can we each make an informed vote? First, read the biographies for each candidate in this issue of Professional Safety (starting on p. 33). Then, read the platform statements posted at These statements provide insight into what each candidate believes and where s/he believes ASSE should be headed. Each year we vote for a senior vice president. This position leads automatically to the office of president-elect, then to president. In essence, we are voting for the future president of this Society. The winning candidate will lead the Council on Member and Region Affairs for a year. As president- elect, this individual will chair our Congress of Councils and lead the Society's strategic planning. As president, this leader will be our voice and the face of our Society.

Each year, we also vote for other board positions, but we stagger the elections so as to avoid replacing the entire board at once. This year, we are electing the vice president of the Council on Practices and Standards, the vice president of finance and the vice presidents of the even-numbered regions.

In odd-numbered election years, we elect the vice president of the Council on Professional Development, the vice president of the Council on Professional Affairs and the vice presidents of the odd-numbered regions.

Voting is easy once you know for whom you will cast your vote. Voting begins on March 1 and ends March 31. You have two choices in how to place your vote: 1) complete and mail back the paper ballot that arrives in your mailbox during the first week in March; or 2) vote electronically.

I prefer the electronic ballot - it arrives in my e-mail in-box just after midnight on March 1, no matter what day of the week it is. If you haven't signed up for electronic voting, there's still time. Go to and sign in to the Members Only section (using your member number and last name to log in). Then, select the 'Update Your Info' link and follow the prompts. Scroll down until you find the 'Society Annual Election Ballot' section and select your preferred voting method.

Helen Keller once said, "I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble." Voting in ASSE's elections may not be the great and noble task we each dream of, but it is our duty to accomplish this small task. This is our Society. Each of our voices matters. Vote this March.

As members, it is our right to vote in our chapter, region and Society elections. More importantly, it is our duty to vote.