[Taxacom] Voting on nomenclatural matters (Botanical)

Paul van Rijckevorsel dipteryx at freeler.nl
Mon Feb 20 02:37:22 CST 2012

From: "Mary Barkworth" <Mary.Barkworth at usu.edu>
Sent: Monday, February 20, 2012 12:48 AM

> There is a mail ballot taken prior to each botanical congress. Any member
> of the International Association of Plant Taxonomists can vote. The
> results of the mail ballot are always taken very seriously, together with
> the recommendations of the appropriate committee. One of the first
> decisions is, if I recall correctly, to adopt all recommendations that
> received strong mail support and endorsement by the general committee -
> and not to discuss those that were strongly rejected UNLESS someone brings
> them up from the floor. So it is really only issues where there is
> disagreement or concern that are discussed and then what one hears said
> may change one's vote. Theoretically it could be done by email but there
> really is something to be said for being in the same room during a
> discussion. There is an immediacy to a meeting that there is not with
> email. Yes, it requires wealth to attend - but wealth helps in any
> endeavor, not just nomenclature. But back to the point: it is not true
> that one has to be present at the nomenclatural session (which is held
> immediately prior to each Congress) to voice an opinion on matters
> nomenclatural. There are lots of opportunities, at least for those working
> with plants, fungi, and algae.

1) It is important to recognize that in the run up to each Congress
there are two separate processes, similar in outline and governed
by similar principles, but differing in the actual steps and in the
parties involved. One deals with protecting selected names (as in
the case of Xanthocyparis), and no mail vote is involved here.
The other process deals with everything else and does involve a
preliminary mail vote. Pre-Melbourne the decision making at the
Congress was the same in both processes, but not at Melbourne,
and it is unclear what the future wil bring.
2) It is inaccurate to say that a Congress decides "to adopt
all recommendations that received strong mail support"
(the General Committee is not involved in the mail vote),
as the Congress decides for itself what it adopts. A proposal
can get 100% support in the mail vote and yet fail to be
adopted by the Congress. It is so that any proposal getting
more than 75% no-votes is dropped (although it can be
resurrected, if properly supported) and of course there are
proposals that fail to get a favorable mail vote and then are
withdrawn by their authors, rather than face an uphill (or
even hopeless) battle.


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