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Anglicans Online last updated 17 February 2019
How the Crown Appointments Commission Votes
Much of what follows comes directly from the report Working with the Spirit: Choosing diocesan bishops, a review of the operation of the Crown Appointments Commission and related matters, GS 1405, a report to the General Synod published by Church House Publishing in February 2001. The Review Group that prepared this was considering, among other things, the constitution and methods of operation of the CAC. It made detailed recommendations to change the procedure that is described below, which applies to all episcopal nominations, and it also made further specific recommendations about changes to the membership of the commission when it considers the particular case of the archbishopric of Canterbury. As none of these recommendations have yet been implemented, as far as anyone knows this is therefore what will happen. The proposed changes to the procedure are republished at the end of the article.
The two-thirds rule
How the voting works
1. Creating a shortlist The names are reduced by discussion to a shortlist of between four and six. Before the voting begins, the Chairman asks the members whether they think that any name on the shortlist is so weak that it should not be included, or whether any previously excluded name should be brought back. This may prompt further discussion before a definitive shortlist is reached.
2. Establishing a first name In the first round, the members are asked to write down all but one of the shortlist names in alphabetical order. If a member writes down fewer than the number of names required, this is treated as a spoiled ballot and that members votes in that round are null and void. The voting slips are not signed, so this amounts to a secret ballot.
The candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated and the process is repeated, without further discussion. This time, members again have to write down one less than the number of remaining names. The process is repeated until only two names remain.
The next time, the members write down one of the remaining two names. If one of the names receives 9, 10, 11, 12 or 13 votes, that name becomes one of the two names to be sent to the Prime Minister. If the voting is 76 or 85, there is further discussion. The members may be asked to bear in mind that the CAC is asked to produce two names, so that the candidate favoured by the minority could still be one of the two. If a two-thirds majority cannot be achieved, the CAC would have to adjourn and reconvene on another occasion.
3. Establishing a second name The same process is repeated from the beginning with all the remaining names from the original shortlist, until there is a second name.
4. Establishing a preference between the two names The two names produced by this process are both deemed to have a two-thirds majority among the voting members. No weight is given to the fact that one emerged first. A final vote is therefore taken by the same method to see whether one of the two names enjoys a two-thirds majority over the other. If one of the names is written down by nine or more of the members, the Commission is taken as having expressed a preference for that candidate and this is reported to the Prime Minister.
If the Chairman feels that there is a lack of enthusiasm about the two names
which have emerged, he may (says Perry) suggest a second meeting of the Commission.
Some of the Perry Commission comments
We therefore recommend that the present CAC Standing Order be amended to introduce the following system of voting (by secret ballot), which would be explained to members of the Commission in writing in advance of their first meeting:
Simon Sarmiento, 22 February 2002
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