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NRA Election Participation

Ah, it’s time for the annual peek at how NRA members are participating in their elections. And this year, the data gets a little more interesting. But just a little. It’s still ridiculously easy for members to get their ballots in and actually influence elections. Let’s get on with the pretty charts.

The y-axis should say that the numbers are in the millions, but after battling with Excel and Google which have both altered their charts just enough to make it a pain in the neck, I figured you fine folks were smart enough to figure that out.

So, why were fewer ballots mailed out? Is NRA shedding massive numbers of life members or 5+ year members? While I don’t have direct access to data, I’m going to go ahead and rule that out. The fact that an even number of ballots went out indicates at least the beginnings of a membership list cleaning operation – putting real effort into finding out who is alive, who moved, etc. Every organization has to do it periodically, and timing to when you have to mail out ballots makes the most sense. One of NRA’s biggest expenses is mailing out the magazines to nearly 4 million members, it gets more expensive when you add stuff to it like the ballots.

I make my assumption with some evidence to back it up. The number of ballots that came back was actually the third highest since I started keeping records, and the number of invalid ballots (those with mistakes) is on par with previous years as well. Those numbers did not see a proportional drop.

Because of the drop in number of mailed ballots, the participation rate went up. Since it’s unlikely the dead people were voting, this makes sense. This isn’t Chicago, after all.

When I emphasize that it’s, in theory, ridiculously easy to influence the election, it’s totally based on the fact that so few eligible members actually vote. If the majority of Snowflakes in Hell readers are voting-eligible members of NRA and every one voted, they alone could throw the participation rate up to 10% based on this year’s numbers. In that spirit, if you do receive an NRA ballot and choose not to vote, I’d be curious as to why you don’t vote in the association election.

16 Responses to “NRA Election Participation”

  1. harp1034 says:

    I am a 5+ year member. I vote in the NRA elections every year. Most members don’t know who is who in the NRA or what is going on.

    • Bitter says:

      That’s why most years we try to share a little bit of insight into people we know or have worked with on the NRA board who stand out for specific reasons.

      MichaelB, unless you consider the magazine to be a membership burden, then it looks nothing like that. Even if you only became a voting member in the time since they had electronic magazine options and you have only received the online magazines, the mailed ballots are still stamped quite clearly as ballots. Your assumption on it tells me that you probably are not a voting member.

  2. MichaelB says:

    They mail out ballots? Probably threw it away thinking it was another “your membership is about to expire” notice even though I’m paid up through 2012.

  3. PhilaBOR says:

    I look at the list, recognize maybe 5 or 10 of the names and don’t know about the positions/personalities/policies of virtually any of them. I hesitate to try to research them since I am skeptical about things I read on the interweb :-)

  4. Bryan S. says:

    “Since it’s unlikely the dead people were voting, this makes sense. This isn’t Chicago, after all.”

    Its still politics, though and though.

  5. j t bolt says:

    Didn’t mail my ballot. Didn’t know anything about enough of the candidates to be able to prefer one. Didn’t even see endorsements of particular candidates by bloggers that did know the players without a program. Since I read gun blogs a lot, that might have been helpful.

    • Bitter says:

      Sorry. Don’t be afraid to say, “You dropped the ball, doofus!” :) We completely missed that opportunity this year. Unfortunately for the makeup of the board, people who we have since learned made HUGE contributions with special skills, we didn’t know at the time. They were some names we had heard before, but we had never personally worked with them. The good news is that since learning about these guys who are huge assets to the board, we do have plans to do early endorsements next year so that you know who we’re supporting just as ballots touch down.

  6. Jeffrey H says:

    I don’t yet get a ballot. I am on the Easy Pay Life and have only been a member for about 2 years. I think right at the 5 year mark I will have paid off the easy pay life so I think at that point I will get the ballot either way.

    • Bitter says:

      Yes, you will. Even if your EPL membership is still being paid off, you’ll be recognized as a 5+ year annual member until it is paid off. I became a voting member while doing the EPL.

  7. Diomed says:

    I’m in a similar situation as jt bolt. I had no idea who those people were or what they stood for, so I wasn’t really invested in getting any of them in office. I find it hard to care about ciphers.

    I also lost track of the American Rifleman that had my ballot in it and didn’t remember to go looking for it until after the deadline.

  8. MichaelB says:

    So Bitter, enlighten us. What qualifies an NRA member to be a voting member? You’ve confuse me.

    • Bitter says:

      Easy, read your membership materials. Voting members are life or higher members, and annual members who have been there for 5 or more years with no interruptions. I believe there’s an explanation of it every year in the magazines where they start talking about the board elections.

      With how dismissive you were about how ballots were sent out, it tells me that you’ve never been a voting member. The fact that you receive renewals tells me that you aren’t a life member or higher. And the fact that you assumed, very incorrectly, how the ballots are sent tells me that you haven’t been a member long or your membership has been sporadic over the years.

      The magazines with the ballots are pretty obvious because they have a graphic on the cover that tells you when the ballot is in there. The ballot itself is different in size and texture from the other pages, plus it’s inserted into the middle and it tends to default open to that section. If the member gets their magazine by email, then the ballot and bios are mailed out in a giant envelope that is clearly labeled as your NRA ballot. The only way you would assume that it would be so easily overlooked and thrown away is if you’ve never seen one which means you aren’t a voting member.

      The only way that NRA members can vote who have not been with the organization for 5 years or who are not life members is for the 76th director, and that election takes place at Annual Meeting. Anyone who has been a member for, I believe, 50 days prior to the election can cast a ballot for the one-year term.

  9. Kathy says:

    Michael B — you have to either be a member for 5+ years OR be a life member. I suspect that there is an on-time/continuous clause in the language as well.

  10. MichaelB says:

    That helps. I’ve only been a member for 3 or 4 years.

    • Bitter says:

      Michael, in that case, you should be able to vote in an election or two. If you hit the point where you believe you should be voting and haven’t received a ballot, then call the membership number to double check their records. There is a very narrow window for people whose memberships technically expired, but they renewed quickly. It’s kind of like a little wiggle room if it’s a case of “the check is in the mail,” so-to-speak. This happened to my mom where one renewal was simply processed late or arrived late. She was on the very last day of that window that they allow, and they started over her 5 years. I asked a board member to look into the issue just so we could at least understand the policy, and the staff realized that she technically fell in that grace period and should have been receiving the ballot. That said, she’s now a life member and the issue is irrelevant.

      But, if you think you want to be involved long term, there are a few options. One, pay up front for multiple years. It won’t get you a ballot any faster, but you won’t need to worry about renewing for a long time. Two, become a life member and you can start voting in the next election. Three, become an Easy Pay Life member. It’s basically a payment plan ($25 every quarter) for the life membership. You’ll still have to wait until your 5th year before you can vote, but once the membership is paid off, you’ll be good for life. Something else not everyone knows, if you nearly a year or more on your current membership, they will credit the price of the balance of your time to the EPL balance or the life member upfront cost. (I was 2 years in on a 5 year membership when I converted to EPL, and I got a credit for the 3 years I already paid for but had not used to start on my EPL.)

  11. Philip says:

    I’ve found nothing about any candidate to attract me to vote for one for several years now. But along with receiving a ballot issue of the AR, every year as a Life Member I receive some piece of junk mail from the NRA requiring me to respond if I want some new, imaginary “benefit.” Since I respond to NOTHING else from them, I do to that, because I figure its purpose is to weed out dead o otherwise departed Life Members, and I don’t want them to stop spending money on me.

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