International Commission on Poplars and Other Fast-Growing Trees Sustaining People and the Environment

26th Session of the International Poplar Commission – 4-8 October 2021

Briefing Note: Elections of 12 Members of the Executive Committee of the IPC

i. Introduction

1. This Note briefs Members of the International Poplar Commission on the election procedures by secret ballot for the appointment of 12 members of the IPC’s Executive Committee. The Note addresses 1) the Framework for elections; 2) vote counting; 3) Interaction with the virtual session on Zoom; 4) further rounds of balloiting, and 5) access requirements to FAO headquarters.

2. The election of the 12 members of the IPC’s Executive Committee will take place on Friday 8 October 2021 through a secret ballot voting procedure in accordance with Rule XII of the General Rules of the Organization. Specifically, Rule XII-9 prescribes that elections take place by secret ballot.

ii. Elections of 12 Members of the Executive Committee

3. In the case where there are several vacancies to be filled, the method of election is prescribed by Rule XII-12, which sets out the requirement that the quorum of the Session shall be a majority of the members of the IPC, i.e. 20.

4. The required majority to be elected to the Executive Committee is ‘more than one half of the number of Members casting valid votes’ (Rule XII-12). It should be noted that the number of ‘votes cast’ does not include abstentions or defective (invalid) ballots (Rule XII-4 (a)).

5. The ballot paper for the election of the Members of the Executive Committee would indicate options to vote for each of the 20 candidates following the nominations that have been received by the Secretariat of the IPC by the deadline.

6. Voting delegates are required to cast the exact number of votes on the ballot paper as there are vacancies in the election, i.e. 12 votes out of the 20 candidates. It is essential that voting delegates cast a precise number of 12 votes in the first round of balloting; Rule XII-4 (c) i and ii provides that any number of votes cast on the ballot paper that is higher or lower than the vacancies in the election shall be invalid.

7. IPC Members who wish to abstain from the election should cast an empty ballot without any mark for any of the candidates.

8. Voting will take place in the Red Room in FAO headquarters, located on the first floor of Building A. The Red Room is equipped with voting booths. Members present to vote will be called up in alphabetical order to proceed to the voting area in the Red Room.

9. The Chairperson of the IPC will appoint two tellers from among the delegates who are not directly interested in the election. The role of the tellers is to 1) supervise the balloting procedure; 2) count the ballot papers; 3) decide on the validity of the ballot paper, and: 4) certify the result of each ballot. (GRO XII.10 (c) (i-ii)).

10. In the practice of FAO, the standard for the appointment of tellers is considered to have been met when tellers are not from delegations from the same region as candidates in the election. The Chairperson is encouraged to appoint the tellers in advance of the IPC Session in order to allow for briefing of the tellers by the Elections Officer.

11. The tellers will be seated at the entrance of the voting area and at the exit of the voting area. Before the voting commences, the tellers first ensure that the ballot box is empty and then lock it. Then, tellers will take their positions in the voting area.

12. Before entry into the voting area, voting delegates will be asked to hand over any electronic recording devices, defined as any device which could be used to record images, including but not limited to cameras, mobile phones or smartwatches. Such devices are not allowed within the voting area. Electronic recording devices surrendered at the entrance of the voting area will be placed in a sealed envelope, marked with an indication of the Member. A security guard will take custody of the device and deliver the mobile phone at the exit of the voting area.

13. At the entrance table, the teller, with the assistance of support staff, will check the identity of the Member that a voting delegate represents and issue a ballot paper. The Member Nation is marked on the teller’s control sheet. Any voting delegate who presents him or herself at the voting will be assumed to be authorized to vote on behalf of the Member. Each delegation Members could be selected to vote on behalf of its delegation; this choice is at the discretion of the delegation.

14. The delegate then proceeds to the voting booth by placing an “X” in the designated box next to each of the candidates they wish to vote for. As set out earlier, the precise number of votes need to be cast as there are candidates in the election on the ballot, which will be 12 in the first round. To reiterate: any number of votes higher or lower than the number of vacancies will invalidate the ballot paper.

15. Abstentions are ballot papers without a mark for any of the candidates; the ballot paper will not have a separate entry for “Abstention”.

16. Please note that ballot papers “shall carry no other notation or mark than those required for the purpose of indicating the vote.” (Rule XII-4 (c) iii). Such additional marks would invalidate the ballot paper.

17. A delegate who has invalidated their ballot paper may, before leaving the voting area, request a new blank ballot paper from the Elections Officer. Upon receipt of the blank ballot paper, the invalidated ballot paper must be surrendered to the Elections Officer and shall remain in his custody (GRO XII.10 (f)).

18. Upon leaving the voting booth, the delegate will proceed to the exit table where the ballot box is located and where the second teller is seated. The delegate will deposit their ballot in the ballot box before the second teller. The second teller will mark on his/her control sheet that the delegate of the Member has deposited the ballot paper in the ballot box.

19. Before leaving the voting area in the Red Room, any electronic recording device of the voting delegate will be returned.

20. Once all voting delegates have completed their voting, the tellers will proceed to count the votes inside the Red Room.

21. The voting process will be visible to all delegates on the Zoom platform.

22. Staff and messengers are available to guide voting delegates through the voting process at all times.

iii. Vote counting

23. The tellers and the support staff will remain in the Red Room to conduct the counting of the votes. The voting delegates may, if they wish, be present in the Red Room and witness the counting of the votes. The counting of the votes is therefore open to the voting delegates of the IPC.

24. It should be noted that the public nature of the vote counting is an exceptional measure in light of the applicable Covid restrictions, which does not establish a precedent for future vote counting procedures. The current anti-Covid measures of the Organization prescribe limitations on the number of persons present in its meeting rooms. In light of these exceptional circumstances, the vote counting will take place in the Red Room and in the presence of voting delegates. Voting delegates will be asked to maintain silence, in order to ensure that the tellers can perform their vote counting functions in full concentration and in a serene atmosphere.

25. It is at the discretion of the tellers as to how to proceed in counting the ballots1. However, the Elections Officer may make practical suggestions to facilitate the process.

26. Once the count is finalized, the Elections Officer will record the results found by the tellers, for certification by the tellers. The signatures of the tellers of the result sheet express their certification of the result.

27. Upon completion of the count, all ballot papers are placed in a sealed envelope. The envelope shall remain in the custody of the Director-General for three months after the date of the ballot as provided for in GRO XII.10 (i).

iv. In the Plenary Zoom meeting

28. A quorum check will be conducted before the voting proceedings may commence. Such a quorum check will be conducted on the basis of the Members present in the virtual Zoom meeting.

29. Once the counting of a round of balloting has been completed, the Elections Officer will communicate the full details of the result sheet to the Chairperson of the IPC, who will resume the Session and read the results of the vote.

v. Further Rounds of Balloting

30. It is likely that one or several further rounds of balloting will be required to fill all 12 vacancies on the Executive Committee of the IPC. As set out earlier, in order to be elected, a candidate must reach the required majority of more than half of the votes cast, and there is a significant probability that not all vacancies would be filled following a first round of balloting. Further rounds of balloting would be held until all vacancies are filled, as prescribed by Rule XII-12 (d).

31. To note; if no candidate reaches the majority in the first round, the candidate having received the lowest number of votes will be eliminated.

32. A second round of balloting would seek to fill the seats on the Executive Committee that remain vacant following the first round. The number of votes to be expressed on the ballot paper of the second round would also change, depending on the number of vacancies remaining. The ballot paper would indicate clearly the number of votes to be cast in that ballot.

33. Voting delegates are requested to await the result of the first ballot in the Red Room. It is estimated that the vote counting procedure would take up to one hour. For subsequent rounds of balloting, the secretariat would need to prepare new ballot papers, depending on the result of each ballot. Further rounds of balloting would take place as soon as possible.

vi. COVID-19 related access requirements to FAO Headquarters

34. In response to the COVID-19 crises, the Organization has taken a number of measures to ensure the health and safety of staff, representatives and any visitors to FAO headquarters. Entry into the FAO headquarters premises takes place in strict accordance with prevailing health and safety protocols. In accordance with such measures, voting delegates will be asked to provide proof of Green Pass acquired through (in English, Italian or non-official translation):

i) double vaccination against COVID-19 (9-month validity). Any COVID-19 vaccine that is recognized by the World Health Organization or under routine approved use by a Member State national health authority is accepted;

ii) a negative test result (in the previous 48-hours for rapid antigen tests and 72-hours for PCR tests); or

iii) recovery from COVID-19 (6-month validity).

35. For any voting delegates travelling into Rome for the purpose of voting, the following travel related quarantine and testing requirements for access to FAO premises are:

i) 5 days quarantine plus antigenic tests for participants having travelled within the Schengen area or in COVID-19 free flights;

ii) 2 weeks (14 days) quarantine plus antigenic test for participants having travelled from any other international locations;

iii) no quarantine for participants having travelled within Italian regions classified as white;

iv) for travellers coming from yellow or orange zones in Italy, the same measures described in the above point i) on EU Digital certificate will apply;

36. Verification of the above-mentioned proof required for entering FAO premises will be performed by the Red Cross at the entrance to the Atrium. No personal data will be transferred to or stored by the Organization as a result of this procedure. In addition, a temperature check and hand sanitation is required upon entry. Surgical masks must be worn by all entrants into the Atrium.

37. Members will be greeted at the Atrium by Staff to find their way to the Red Room. Subsequently, a check of the identity of the delegates will take place against the registration information of the Secretariat.

38. The voting area will be prepared for the prevailing COVID-19 conditions, in compliance with protocol in use at FAO headquarters. Voting delegates must maintain at least 2-metres interpersonal distancing. In addition, frequent hand washing and hand sanitization is recommended. The tellers will sit behind screens and voting booths will be sanitized after each voting delegate has left their booth.


1 Rule XII.4 (c):

i. Any ballot paper carrying votes for more candidates than there are vacancies to be filled, or carrying a vote for an individual, nation or locality not validly nominated, shall be considered defective.

ii. (N/A)

iii. The ballot paper shall carry no other notation or mark than those required for the purpose of indicating the vote.

iv. Subject to (i), (ii) and (iii) above, a ballot paper shall be considered valid when there is no doubt as to the intention of the elector.