North American Riders Unable to Vote for At Least A Month in Historic FEI Elections

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Anna Paprocka-Campanella and Laura Tomlinson, the two dressage candidates for the FEI Athlete elections.
Anna Paprocka-Campanella and Laura Tomlinson, the two dressage candidates for the FEI Athlete elections.

May 27, 2014

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Riders in all the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) horse sports in the United States and Canada may have been unable to vote for more than a month for representatives on the governing body’s discipline committees because of a problem with the online polling platform.

The issue came to light just days before the close of balloting in the historic direct election of rider representatives to the FEI committees that deal with specific disciplines–dressage, driving, endurance, eventing, jumping, reining, vaulting and paraequestrian.

The FEI confirmed the problem to dressage-news.com on Tuesday that the USA/Canada computer “bug” that prevented riders from receiving text messages with their password to vote affected all disciplines.

The online election began April 15 and closes at 2359 Central European time (2159 GMT/5:59 pm US Eastern Time) June 1.

The FEI said departments responsible for the elections and operation of the platform “advised that there was a bug in the system which prevented riders located in the US and Canada from receiving text messages.

“This was solved on 19 May and all those who had contacted us in connection with this matter were advised accordingly.”

However, within hours of this report that was the first public disclosure of election issues, some riders in Canada and the United States reported that they still could not complete the process to vote.

Both the U.S. Equestrian Federation and Equine Canada were asked by dressage-news.com if they were taking any action on the voting problems.

A total of 745 combinations are on the dressage ranking list–including riders with multiple horses or horses that have changed hands or retired in the past year.

The inability of some of the 90 combinations from Canada and the United States plus many more foreign riders with U.S. or Canadian phone numbers based in North America to cast ballots could impact the outcome of the election. U.S. and Canadian riders make up the second largest group behind only Germany’s 99 combinations on the dressage rankings.

Both candidates for the dressage committee are Europeans, but six of the eight disciplines have U.S. candidates, no Canadians, on the ballots–two in jumping and one each in eventing, endurance, driving, reining and paraequestrian.

The balloting system is common to webvoting platforms in that participants register through a designated Internet site and a password to vote is sent to the registered voters’ mobile phone. An advantage of webvoting is that it is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week anywhere in the world there is an Internet connection.

The voting site is: https://www.fei.webvote.fr/?context=1&lang=en

The FEI advised that riders with problems should report them through a “HELP” button that is at the foot of the election page in tiny type on the same line as the copyright notice.

Anna Paprocka-Campanella of Italy and Laura Tomlinson of Great Britain are the two candidates seeking election to the FEI Dressage Committee and a FEI Athletes’ Committee.

Both riders have posted their biographies on the official FEI election site and have participated in forums such as on dressage-news.com to detail their approach if elected.

The electronic voting platform was provided by the French company, Gedicom, whose experience in web voting is mostly in Europe but names an election in French-speaking Quebec as one of its projects.

A total of 26 candidates from 10 nations are standing for election to the eight technical committees.

The elected Athletes in each discipline will also form the FEI Athletes’ Committee when the Technical Committees require feedback and proactive input on issues relevant to all FEI athletes.

FEI registered athletes, aged 18 years and over and on their respective Ranking Lists from Dec. 31, 2013 are eligible to vote.

Riders on the FEI ranking lists as of Dec. 31, 2013 are eligibe to vote.

The dressage ranking list as of April 30, the latest and final standings ahead of the June 1 close of polling, recorded 745 combinations, including numerous duplicates of riders with more than one horse and horses that have changed hands or no longer compete.

According to the rankings, the nations with the greatest numbers on the list are:
1. Germany – 99
2. USA – 65
3. Australia — 53
4. Netherlands – 48
5. France — 42
6. Russia — 39
7. Spain – 37
8. Sweden — 36
9. Great Britain — 33
10. Denmark — 31
11. Canada — 25