By Jon Delano, Judge of Elections
When and where is the election?
The election is set for Saturday, April 21, at Trinity Cathedral, with registration for Clergy and Lay Deputies beginning at 8:30 a.m.
Who gets to vote?
Only certified Lay Deputies and canonically resident and physically present (for a period of six months) Clergy are permitted to cast a ballot. Currently, we have 88 Lay Deputies and 57 Clergy expected to vote, but that could change as the Convention has final say on deputations entitled to vote.
How many votes does it take to be elected bishop?
The rules require a simple majority of those present (assuming at least two-thirds of Clergy and two-thirds of Lay Deputies in attendance), voting by Order. That means that the successful nominee must secure a majority of Clergy votes AND a majority of Lay Deputies on the SAME ballot. The precise number required for election will be announced with each result.
When exactly does the vote begin?
The election for bishop takes place in the context of a Eucharistic Service. The first balloting will begin following the Peace. We will conduct three ballots, if necessary, before breaking for Lunch, and then return for more balloting, if needed, in the afternoon. Following the election of a bishop, we will conclude the Eucharistic Service.
What do the ballots look like?
We will have separate ballots for Clergy and Lay Deputies, color-coded, and numbered for each round of balloting. You must use the correct ballot in each round or that ballot will be disqualified. Because we are using a ballot card that can be read by machine, the first number in each horizontal line will be assigned to a particular nominee. Do not mark the card until you have made a choice.
How will we know which number on the ballot represents which nominee?
Ballot position will be determined, publicly, by lot at the Friday night discussion session. That order will remain the same throughout the balloting process, even as nominees remove themselves from further consideration. The names of nominees and their ballot number will be displayed and repeated frequently throughout the process on Saturday.
Will the results of each round be reported?
Yes. After each round of balloting, the Judge of Elections will report the number of votes that each nominee received from Clergy and Lay Deputies. Those results will also be posted on a screen and on the diocesan web site. After a short period of meditation, the next ballot will be taken.
Is the nominee receiving the lowest vote automatically eliminated?
No. Sometimes a person with a low vote in either Order on the first ballot does better on a subsequent ballot, and vice versa. Under rules adopted for this particular election, nobody is ever stricken from the ballot unless the nominee chooses to be removed. Each nominee receives a phone call following each ballot to be informed of that result and to be given an opportunity to indicate his or her desire to remain on the ballot.
Do Clergy and Lay Deputies have a chance to discuss the merits of nominees with each other?
Obviously, throughout the days leading up to the special convention, Clergy and Lay Deputies may discuss amongst themselves the merits of the nominees. Bishop Price and the Standing Committee (which has final oversight over the election process) requests that discussion be positive with respect to nominees and never negative towards any of the five who have put themselves forward for consideration.
A pre-convention discussion has been scheduled for Friday, April 20, at 7 p.m. at Trinity Cathedral. This is the chance for anyone with "voice" at convention to express an opinion about a particular nominee in a large public setting. All Clergy and Lay Deputies should try to attend. There will be NO such open discussion period at the special convention on Saturday.
Of course, on Saturday at the convention, between the balloting, Clergy and Lay Deputies are free to move into the parish room at Trinity Cathedral for refreshment and open conversation. The sanctuary will be a place for music and hymns during that period, and St. Mary's Chapel (to the left) is reserved for quiet prayer and reflection. We anticipate at least 30 minutes for ballot counting, although that period could be shorter or longer.
Who counts the ballots?
The Judge of Elections (Jon Delano) oversees the ballot counting, assisted at this special convention by several postulants (who have no vote). A vote counting machine will be utilized, but hand-counting will be exercised if the Judge of Elections deems it necessary in close balloting. No results will be announced until the Judge of Elections is satisfied that it is an accurate count, reflecting the will of the Clergy and Lay Deputies voting in special convention.
What if a Clergy member or Lay Deputy cannot make it to the Convention or must leave early?
If a Clergy member entitled to vote is absent or must leave early, there is no provision for absentee voting. If a Lay Deputy is absent or must leave, he or she is entitled to be replaced by an Alternate Deputy from that same parish. If you know in advance, notify the church office immediately. But in the more likely case of a last minute illness or middle-of-the-day absence, the Judge of Elections must be notified by early Saturday morning (or during the convention) in order to authorize the substitution.
How long will balloting continue?
In some dioceses, it has taken as long as 17 ballots for the Holy Spirit to work its will among Clergy and Lay Deputies. The expectation is to continue balloting through Saturday afternoon, if necessary.
How will we know that the special convention has elected a bishop?
No white smoke here, but the Trinity Cathedral chimes will peal, as we summon everyone back into the sanctuary for the Judge of Elections to report the final ballot and the name of our new Bishop. And then, thanks be to God, we will resume the Eucharist and celebrate by coming together at the Lord's Table.
What is the testimonial?
As each Clergy and Lay Deputy leave the Altar rail following Communion, each will sign a testimonial certifying the election of the Eighth Bishop of Pittsburgh. This does not mean you voted for the eventual choice but rather that a final decision was made.
What happens next?
Because this election is soon followed by a General Convention on July 5 to 12, the choice of the this Diocese must receive necessary consents by bishops and deputies to General Convention. Once that is completed, the Transition Committee will assist the Bishop-elect's move to Pittsburgh this summer, if necessary. The consecration of the Eighth Bishop of Pittsburgh will be at Calvary Episcopal Church on October 20, 2012.