Cochrane elections started on the 23 of November and voting will be open for a month. All Cochrane Members can vote on elections.cochrane.org. There are 18 candidates and a voter can choose four of these by simply clicking the boxes in front of their names and submit the page. Only people who are registered members can vote. If you are unsure, then go to https://join.cochrane.org/your-membership and check.
How do you know what the candidates stand for? That is a bit more complicated. All candidates have an election statement on the Cochrane election pages. This is a 10-page document in which they respond to questions that have been predetermined by Cochrane. You will find a lot of information about what a candidate’s experience with Cochrane is and how they came to join Cochrane. If we assume that you as a voter will be interested in what the candidate’s ideas are about policy priorities for Cochrane, you have to scroll through all these pages until you find he section on ‘strategic priorities for Cochrane for 2019′. As you will notice, many candidates don’t have real priorities here and they just say, we will produce more Cochrane Reviews. In my view that is not very strategic even though review production is our core business. Anyway, it is important to know the candidates’ views there. We and 620 other Cochrane members think that four issues are important: better discussion, focus on heart of Cochrane, more engagement and a better business model. See these four issues elaborated here. Therefore, we analysed what the candidates said about these four issues and compiled that in a Voter Guide. You can see at a glance and read what each candidate says about these issues in relation to next year’s strategy. We strongly believe that no voter is willing to read 180 pages of text and that it is absolutely necessary to convey the information in a more succinct way. The fairest elections are those in which voters can make an informed decision. Otherwise the elections will just be a popularity poll or a choice for people who are best known. The aim of elections is that voters can choose those leaders that will most likely do what the voters think is important for Cochrane. We believe that the Voter Guide helps to make informed choices.
Some candidates provided feedback and said that they had provided information about for example more debate in Cochrane elsewhere in the document and that this should be added to the Voter Guide. We felt that it would not be fair against the other candidates who had prioritized these as their most strategic issues for 2019 to just add this.
We would have liked to update the Voter Guide with information from the candidates but the Elections Officer forbade the candidates from doing so in a personal email in response to my question about feedback. This probably led to half of the candidates not answering, being afraid to not stick to the election rules. I hope that this still can be repaired in the coming days. It illustrates how difficult it is to get transparency in Cochrane.
What are the rules for elections in Cochrane?
You can find them on the election pages but I have summarised them here:
- Any member may encourage other members to participate in the elections as long as no specific candidates are endorsed. This would mean that our Voter Guide, which does not endorse specific candidates, is a perfect medium to encourage members to participate.
- Cochrane members with a staff function in the CET or in groups should not canvass for specific candidates, which the dictionary defines as soliciting votes from electors or members. They are not supposed to send emails around please vote for Sally Green or as another example Martin Burton is not supposed to say vote for Jani Ruotsalainen because that would be considered favoritism. However, also here information about all candidates would be perfectly allowed to be sent around.
For the use of official Cochrane channels
- Email lists or social media accounts should not be used to endorse specific candidates. However, the Voter Guide could be sent through these channels as this does not endorse any specific candidate. Please feel free to share either the JPG version used as illustration (it has been optimised for social media) or the PDF version presented behind the links.
- Cochrane’s official communication directs voters to the elections page.
- They may use their own social media accounts but not any of Cochrane’s official accounts