NRA Elections 2012

Knox Endorses  Heil in NRA Elections

     As magazines containing ballots for the 2012 NRA Board of Directors Election have been arriving in people’s mail boxes over the past week (if you got a ballot, you’re eligible to vote – if you didn’t you aren’t) I have been receiving requests for guidance as to which candidates I feel are worth supporting.
This year I am only endorsing one candidate, Maria Heil, and asking voting members of NRA to cast ballots with only Mrs. Heil’s name marked.  While I do not know Mrs. Heil personally, she comes highly recommended by friends whose opinions I deeply respect.  I think Mrs. Heil would be a diligent worker for our rights as gun owners – and as NRA members – within the Board of Directors.  I believe she would bring some much-needed new energy to the board.
     While there are several incumbent directors up this cycle who I think have done a good job of serving the members, I am disinclined to offer endorsements.  I believe all of those good directors will easily win reelection without my help – or yours – and every vote cast for someone else dilutes any vote cast for Maria Heil.  This technique is called “Bullet Voting” – voting for only one or a few candidates rather than an entire slate.  The 25 candidates with the highest number of votes win seats.  Since there are only 31 candidates running, attempting to vote for a full slate invariably boosts the chances of another candidate bumping your favorite out of a seat.  Just one vote difference can cost a seat.

     There are 76 seats on the NRA Board of Directors.  Each year 25 seats are up for election to a 3-year term and one seat is filled for a 1-year term by a vote of members present at the Annual Meeting.  There also might be one or two “out of cycle” seats that need to be filled due to a resignation or death, but there are none of those this year so there are only 25 seats up for election.  As usual, most of those seats will be filled by reelected incumbents, but this year there are a handful of Directors who either decided not to run again or who have fallen out of favor with Wayne and company and were snubbed by the Nominating Committee.  Either way, this creates an opportunity for a petition only candidate like Maria Heil to actually win a seat.  The odds are still long, but not as bad as usual when 24 of the 25 seats are almost certain to go to incumbents.
     It is an embarrassment that the greatest political action organization in the country generally gets participation from only about 7% of their members eligible to vote, but that’s the case.  While that is a sad testimony to how seriously flawed the NRA election process is (and NRA’s unwillingness to address the problems) it also represents an opportunity.  In years past, my father and other dedicated NRA members have been able to shift the makeup of the NRA Board by running a short slate of alternate candidates and getting some of the 83% who normally don’t vote at all to Bullet Vote for that slate.  Control over the NRA publications by Wayne and company – and their willingness to play dirty pool – made winning those seats almost impossible, but things are changing.  The power of the internet could overcome the iron grip of the NRA-created millionaires who control the organization, but it would require cooperation and coordination among committed rights activists.  Most importantly, a group of qualified, willing, reform candidates must be found and promoted.  Those interested in putting together such an effort for 2013 and beyond are invited to contact me about it.
     Until such a broad-based effort can be mounted, the best we can hope for is to try and keep good directors serving and get an occasional independent voice like Maria Heil inserted into the mix.

Jeff Knox
Director, The Firearms Coalition
NRA Endowment Member