IVSA Online Attendance Manual

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Introduction

The ExCo has experienced difficulties over the last few years when online attendance was allowed during a General Assembly (GA). Previously during the 63rd IVSA Congress in Indonesia 2014, the internet connection was not stable causing attendees to lose connection multiple times. This was an issue because the GA could not recess every time that an attendee lost their connection.

Issues arose during the Special General Assembly (SGA) in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA 2017 because not all Member Organizations (MOs) were notified of the possibility to attend online. The procedure, regarding the voting process and platform, was unclear and did not function properly.

As a result, the Manual on Online Attendance was created to alleviate these issues in the future.

The manual on Online Attendance was created by the Taskforce on the Manual on Online Attendance, consisting of: Denise van Eekelen (the Netherlands; Chair), Branden Nettles (United States of America), Emma van Rooijen (the Netherlands), Leonie Fingerhut (Germany), Malcolm Chong (Malaysia) and Maryem ben Salem (Tunisia).


When is online attendance allowed?

According to the bylaws, online attendance is allowed when a special session of the General Assembly is summoned. This can either be in addition to the GAs during congress or symposium (see point 2.4 of the Bylaws) or to replace a lost GA of congress or symposium (see Appendix I).


Purpose

Online attendance is allowed during Special/Extraordinary General Assemblies for various reasons:

  • The special session of the GA is not accessible to all members because the time between acceptance and start of the special session of the GA is too short for finalization of travel arrangements, visas, etc.
  • The special session of the GA is not held at a physical location, rather only online.
  • The special session of the GA will not reach quorum without online attendance for multiple reasons (e.g. Not enough time to finalize a visa, insufficient funds to fund last-minute travel, unable to leave university/clinics on short notice, etc.).


Online Attendance Committee

Organizing online attendance and maintaining contact with attending countries has shown to be too much work for the ExCo. As a result, the Online Attendance Committee (OAC) was created.

Structure

The OAC consists of four (4) people including: one member from the ExCo, one member from the Secretariat, one member from the Trust, and one member of the Organizing Committee (OC).

Appointment and term

The members of the OAC will be appointed by the ExCo at least 60 days prior to the start of the special session of the GA during which Online Attendance is allowed. Once a member accepts the appointment to the OAC, he may not resign. A member of the OAC may be dismissed by the President, if the ExCo deems that the member is not fulfilling his duties. The OAC will automatically dissolve after the special session of the GA for which they were appointed has adjourned.

Duties

The OAC is responsible for:

  • Communication between possible attendees and the ExCo in regards to online attendance before the start of the special session of the GA. This includes notification and receiving questions from possible attendees.
  • Ensuring the platform for online attendance is working at least 30 minutes prior to the start of each meeting of the special session of the GA.
  • Communication to the Chair during the meeting of the GA when an online attendee would like to have the floor.
  • Setting up, and executing, a method of voting for the online attendees.
  • Providing all online attendees with the agenda, booklet and all relevant documents for the special session of the GA.


Notification

All MOs should be notified of the possibility to attend the upcoming special session of the GA that is allowing online attendance. The OAC is responsible for notifying all MOs at least 30 days prior to the start of the special session of the GA. Possible notification methods can be, but not limited to: email, EO Bulletin, website and social media. At least one type of active communication (e.g. email) should be used. An effort should be made to notify MOs through as many networks as possible.

Notifications should include the following information:

  • Date and time (in GMT) of each meeting of the special session of the GA
  • Platform that will be used
  • Resources needed for attendance (e.g. microphone, speaker, etc.)
  • The contact person (of the OAC) for all questions regarding online attendance
  • Explanation of the procedure for online attendance (e.g. roll call, voting, etc.)

Notification of attendance by an MO

The OAC should be made aware that a given MO is planning to attend online. The notification should be sent to the contact person at least seven (7) days before the start of the special session of the GA. This notification should include the following:

  • Name of the MO planning to attend
  • Name of the voting representative for the MO (or country in the case a country is represented by multiple MOs)
  • Which meeting of the special session of the GA they will be attending (in full)
  • Short description of the technological resources the MO will be using for online attendance during the special session of the GA (e.g. laptop in someone’s home with stable wifi, computer at a university, etc.)


Procedures

The voting representative, as mentioned in the notification, should be present on the platform used for online attendance at least five (5) minutes prior to the start of the special session of the GA.

Non-voting attendees can join the special session of the GA at any point in time on the platform.

Roll call

The voting representative will enable video chat when requested by the representative of the OAC to confirm his/her identity.

A MO must verbally state their presence during roll call through the chosen platform. This should be followed by a statement of who will be casting the votes for the MO.

Explanatory comment: In the case of multiple MOs represent one country, the MOs are responsible for selecting the representative that will be voting on behalf of the country prior to the start of the first meeting of the special session of the GA.

After the first meeting of the GA, a MO/country attending for the first time at subsequent meetings must verbally state their presence after the Secretary General has read the roll call of all the previously attending MOs/countries.

Right to speak

As stated in the constitutions and bylaws: all members of the special session of the GA have the right to speak, including those attending online. Online attendees that would like the floor, shall inform the representative of the OAC through the online platform. The OAC representative will then verbally notify the Chair an online attendee would like to speak by stating the following: name of online attendee, name of country, would like to have the floor. The representative should be careful not to interrupt any other member that currently has the floor. The Chair will acknowledge the online attendee and include him in the order of right to speak.

When the online platform does not have a feature where attendees can raise their hand, online attendees that would like the floor, shall inform the representative of the OAC through the chat by writing "hand".

Communication between MOs

The attending MOs must ensure that the opinion of all MOs is included before voting on motions and in elections. MOs/countries should be encouraged to set up a group chat (e.g. Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, etc…) that includes all members in attendance.

Voting

The OAC should set up necessary methods of voting for countries attending online (see below). These should be established at least five (5) days prior to the start of the special session of the GA. The countries attending online should be informed of the voting methods used during the special session of the GA at least ten (10) minutes before a vote is taken. However, it is recommended that countries are informed as soon as possible (when a MO notifies the OAC of attendance, they could be informed of the various methods to be used).

The voting method used for online attending countries must be in accordance with the voting method used for the countries in physical attendance for a given motion of the special session of the GA.

Card raising vote

When the Chair calls for a “Card Raising Vote” the online attending countries will be asked to cast their votes via the platform. When the Chair asks, “all in favor, raise your green cards,” the online attending countries will verbally state the name of their voting entity followed by the number of votes in favor (i.e. IVSA Poland, 2 in favor). Any attending country that does not verbally state their number of votes in favor will be considered as “no green cards raised.” This same procedure applies when the Chair asks, “All opposed, raise your red cards.”

Roll call vote

When the Chair calls for a “Roll Call Vote,” the online attending countries will verbally state their votes, the same as physically attending countries (e.g. one in favor, one against). Any attending country that does not verbally state their votes when called by the Secretary General will be considered an abstain.

Written ballot vote – non-election

Written ballot votes must be anonymous as stated in the Bylaws. The OAC should set up a method of online voting (e.g. Google Forms) that will allow online attending countries to cast two votes anonymously. When the Secretary General calls out the online attending country to collect their vote, the country must state in the chat or verbally that the vote has been cast through the online voting method. The results of the vote, including the online method used, can only be seen by the Election Committee.

Elections

The votes for elections are cast in a similar way to the written ballot vote. However, preferential voting changes the requirements of the online voting method. The voting ballots for elections of the IVSA Officials should be made directly after nominations are closed by the Election Committee.

The voting ballots for the elections that will be used by the online attending countries, shall be based on a template that will be drafted by the OAC prior to the start of the first meeting of the special session of the GA.

The online attendees should be notified of the voting method used for the election directly after the Presentation Meeting of the GA, but should only accept responses when the Chair opens the vote for Elections of a specific position. The results of the online vote can only be seen by the Election Committee.

According to the bylaws, when specified, members may not have the right to attend a meeting of the special session of the GA online. The specification must be approved by the GA at the start of the first meeting of the special session of the GA.


Technological resources

Several technological resources must be in place when online attendance is allowed for a session of the GA. These include, but are not limited to: the online platform through which the attendees communicate and a live stream which would broadcast at least the GA agenda.

Online Platform

The OAC must propose a platform to the ExCo for approval. The platform needs to be approved at least 40 days prior to the start of the special session of the GA during which online attendance is allowed. The OAC should keep in mind that the proposed platform could fail to receive ExCo approval; therefore, enough time should be given to research a second option. The online platform should meet the following criteria:

  • List of attendees – the platform should show a list of attendees
  • Chat – the platform should have the ability for a “chat group”
  • Microphone – a microphone can be enabled by both the host and the attendee
  • Speaker – the host and attendees should be able to hear each other
  • Stability – the platform should be stable and not continuously lose connection

If a live stream is set up through which attendees can see the agenda and/or the screen, the platform does not have to be able to share/show the agenda, although it is recommended.

When an attendee signs in, when asked for ‘name’, they should fill in the following: “Name - Name MO” (eg Anil Turer - IVSA Istanbul, Turkey or Leonie Fingerhut - IVSA Germany).

Live stream

Live stream should be available simultaneously, allowing online attendees to see the screen and/or the special session of the GA itself. The live stream should use a platform that does not require a password or login so that any IVSA member can join and watch the GA.

Technical difficulties

The special session of the GA will not automatically recess if the connection with any attendee is lost due to technical issues, as per the bylaws. However, the special session of the GA will recess if the loss of a given attendee(s) brings the number of attending countries below the limit for quorum to be met.