Electing a Bishop

I’ve been reading and re-reading Canon 4 to get my head into the election procedure – its the first time I’ve been part of an Episcopal Election, and I find the whole thing fascinating and a little exciting.  Its also an immense priviledge to be part of the process, and to be partly responsible for choosing the person to lead this diocese for the next decade or so.  Please do continue to pray for the candidates, and for us electors as we pray and prepare to meet this weekend.

On Saturday, the day of the election itself, we will gather in the cathedral, be duly ticked off on the roll of voters, there will be opportunity for discussion (or politiking and flagwaving …).  At some point the Convenor (the Primus) will call for a vote – to be done in houses (clergy and laity)  – a majority in each house can “win” the election on the first vote – the result will be declared by the Convenor.  If no clear majority in both houses, there may be further discussion, and a 2nd vote can be called by the convenor.  For the first 2 votes, we are voting for one candidate to win  Abstentions do not count, but we do have the right to mark our ballot paper “None” if we feel that none of the candidates are called.

If there is still no clear majority in both houses, a third vote will take place without further discussion.  On the third vote, the candidates are placed in order of preference.  if there is no “first preference” majority, the candidate with the least “first preference” votes will be eliminated, and those votes redistributed according to their 2nd preference.  If there is still no clear majority, synod will adjurn for 30-90 mins, and then reconvene for another vote, using the same system as the third.    If there is still no majority in both houses, the election will be declared void.

A void election means the process begins again – a new Mandate is issued by the primus within 7 days, and a new preparatory comittee appointed, to look at nominations and invite potential candidates for interview.

6 thoughts on “Electing a Bishop

  1. Kenny says:

    Thanks for “clearing” all that up, then, Ali! My calculator is at the ready!

  2. Ali says:

    Convoluted process, but hopefully one that will work, and with 3 rather than the maximum 5 candidates, it could be home by lunchtime (though i’m not counting on that!)

    A point of clarification: discussion takes place in houses, not as a full gathered electoral synod as far as i can tell.

    Also – there seems to be no provision in the canon for members of the Electoral Synod to call for a vote – it seems to be purely at the Convenor’s discretion

    One thing I’d like clarification of: what are they deeming as a majority – is it purely a simple one? After all, if Candidate A gets 30% votes, Candidate B gets 30% and Candidate C gets 40%, is Candidate C elected even though 60% didnt vote for C? Or is there some magic number which which is deemed a majority win in Episcopal Elections?

    • Kenny says:

      This was my understanding. It’s up to the Primus when we vote. It is therefore extremely unlikely that a vote will be taken without any discussion. The majority is over 50% needed in both houses.

  3. Ali says:

    thanks for clearing that up Kenny 🙂

  4. Jan says:

    What’s your verdict on the process and result then?

  5. Ali says:

    Jan – the process definately works! Canon 4 has been altered and ammended several times over the last few years, precisely to ensure that there is an election and that the long drawn out indecisive affairs of the past are not repeated.

    There has been controversy in the result because of the fact that history has not been made – that somehow Alison “failed” and we as a Diocese “failed” – mainly to make headlines. This is just annoying, as is the speculation/suggestion in some quarters that maybe gender prejudice was an issue. After living and working in this diocese for over 9 years now, I think i am on pretty safe grounds when I say it may have been an issue for some, but not I think a deciding factor. The Primus spoke to STV News on the issue, and his interview can be seen here for a week or 2 (you might even see me in the background…my first National TV appearance!)

    At the end of the day, we met, we prayed, and as a Diocese have appointed. That is what we were charged to do by the Primus, and is what we have done. Now the hard work begins for Gregor, and we continue to pray for him.

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