Nuts and bolts: How U.S. Soccer's presidential election will work

U.S. Soccer's membership will pick the next president to succeed Sunil Gulati at its National Council Meeting on Feb. 10 in Orlando.

The eight candidates have been in the news a lot, attending forums, appearing on television and radio and podcasts as well participating in social media:

U.S. Soccer presidential candidates:
Paul Caligiuri, Former U.S. international
Kathy Carter, SUM president
Carlos Cordeiro, U.S. Soccer vice president
Steve Gans, Boston attorney and soccer consultant
Kyle Martino, NBC sports analyst and former U.S. international
Hope Solo, Former U.S. international
Michael Winograd, New York attorney
Eric Wynalda, Fox Sports analyst and former U.S. international

But just how will the election work? Here's an updated primer -- who votes, how the votes are weighted, who oversees the voting and how the winner is determined.

Much of the information is available from U.S. Soccer's election FAQ and its by-laws, but it also includes information from a seven-page abstract sent to the eight candidates as well as the Credentials Committee report at the 2017 National Council Meeting in Maui, both of which Soccer America has seen.

Where will the election take place and who can attend?
Besides candidates, delegates and alternates, and invited guests and media, members of the public can attend the National Council Meeting at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld. They will need a ticket, though, and they will be in limited supply. They will be free of charge and offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Details will be provided in the days prior to Feb. 10.

The National Council Meeting will be streamed live on

What is the voting structure?
To understand the voting structure, you need to know these three principles:

-- By Federal law, athletes of any national governing body (U.S. Soccer's Athletes Council) get 20 percent of the vote.
-- The three other Councils (Youth, Adult and Professional Council) have equal shares of the vote.
-- The equal one-third shares of the three other councils are slightly diluted by the single votes of miscellaneous members: national associations and affiliates, board members, life members (up to 12 total votes) and as of 2018 two fan representatives.

2017 National Council shares (in Maui):
Youth Council (25.8%)
Adult Council (25.8%)
Professional Council (25.8%)
Athletes Council (20%)
Miscellaneous (2.6%)
Note: 2018 percentages will only vary slightly.

What's the allocation of delegates for the four councils?
Youth Council. At the 2017 National Council, U.S. Youth Soccer state associations received 2-6 delegates based on the size of the associations (registered players). U.S. Club Soccer and AYSO received 36 votes. (They also get votes as members of the Adult Council.) Up the eight commissioners are also delegates.

Adult Council. At the 2017 National Council, U.S. Adult Soccer state associations received 1-5 delegates based on the size of the associations (registered players). Six other affiliates had 1-4 delegates. Up the eight commissioners are also delegates.

Professional Council. There were 13 delegates at the 2017 National Council: eight from MLS, two each from the NWSL and USL and one from the NASL. (One delegate did not attend the meeting or vote as part of Professional Council.) There will be 16 delegates in Orlando. NASL has objected to the proposed allocation of delegates.

Athletes Council. Only six of 20 athletes attended the 2017 National Council Meeting as Athletes Council delegates.

The multipliers:
-- To give equal weight to the votes of the delegates from the three non-Athletes Councils, the multiplier is 1 for the council with the most delegates, and the multipliers for the other two councils are the number of delegates from the council with the most delegates divided by the number of delegates of each the other two councils.

-- To give the Athletes Council 20 percent of the vote, the weighted vote totals of the three other councils plus the miscellaneous members are added together and divided by four. That weighted number is the total votes the Athletes Council gets, and the multiplier for delegates on the Athletes Council is the weighted number divided by the number of delegates in attendance.

Here were the weighted voting totals in Maui:
293 Youth Council (293 delegates x 1.00)
293 Adult Council (190 delegates x 1.54)
293 Professional Council (13 delegates x 22.54)
228 Athletes Council (6 delegates x 38.00)
27 Miscellaneous (27 delegates x 1.00)
Total: 1,134 votes --> 568 simple majority, 756 2/3 majority.

Who had the most votes in Maui?
180.32 MLS.
45.08 NWSL.
45.08 USL.
43.16 AYSO and U.S. Club Soccer.
38.00 Each of the six athletes.
22.54 NASL.
13.70 Cal South and Texas North (largest joint state associations).

For those math majors out there, here's U.S. Soccer by-law 302(3)(d) with the multiplier formula:

((TWV/.8) - TWV)/AD rounded off to two (2) decimal places.
TWV=total weighted vote of all non-Athlete delegates; AD=Athlete delegates.

Who are delegates?
-- Delegates must be officers, director, or senior executive of the organization member or must be authorized in writing to serve as a delegate by the organization member's the governing body. (This is your chance to serve.)
-- An individual can cast all or part of an organization member's votes having more than one vote so long as that share of the total votes is not more than 2 percent.
-- The exception: an athlete can cast all or part of the athlete votes. (In the past, the athletes have voted as a bloc. They aren't expected to in 2018.)
-- Delegates must vote in person (no proxies).
-- Delegates must vote in only one capacity (delegates with multiple roles would include board members, life members and commissioners).
-- Information on the delegates is not available to the public. To receive updated lists, candidates are required to indemnify the federation that they won't be used for any reason other than the election.

Who runs the election?
It's the job of the Credentials Committee to oversee the election. Its role includes:

-- Reviewing the final list of delegates and determining the final apportionment of weighting on the eve of the election (this meeting is expected to be open);
-- The election will be by secret ballot, so the next step on the eve of the election will be setting up the seating in the National Council room and supervising the placement of electronic keypads;
-- Securing the National Council room until the morning of the election; and
-- Tabulating the votes after each round of balloting.

Besides the electronic keypad vendor whose job it will be to program the keypads and make sure they are working, an Independent Accounting and Management Consulting firm has been hired to perform monitoring procedures.

Credentials Committee:
Chair: Bob Kepner (N.C. Adult Soccer Association, former president).
Members (one from each council): Dimitrios Efstathiou (MLS/SUM VP, Business & Legal Affairs).
-- Tony Falcone (Md. State Soccer Association, president).
-- Siri Mullinix (Clemson Univ. women's assistant coach, former U.S. international).
-- Kathy Zolad (Conn. Junior Soccer Association, former president).

How does the voting work?
Each candidate will randomly be selected and get five minutes to speak at the National Council. Each candidate will randomly be assigned a number 1-8 and the name and number will be displayed on a screen. Then the show begins ...

1. Each delegate uses the keypad with numbers 1-8 to vote for his or her candidate. The keypad is programmed to take into account the delegate's voting strength.

2.  If no candidate has a majority -- 50 percent + 1 -- of the weighted vote, there will be a 10-minute break or “caucus” session for candidates to meet with their supporters, and a second round of voting takes place.

-- There is no policy for the candidate with the lowest vote total to be dropped. That will be up to the candidates to voluntarily do themselves. (A motion -- needing 2/3 vote of the National Council -- will be offered for approval before the election to suspend the latest edition of Robert's Rules of Order to the extent that the candidate with the lowest vote total will be dropped after each round, beginning after the third round.)

-- The only "write-in provision" will be even if a candidate drops out or is dropped out and his or her name is no longer displayed on the screen, a delegate can continue to vote for that candidate using the assigned number. (They just need to remember it.)

3.  The election will continue with as many rounds as necessary until a candidate gains a majority of the weighted vote.

1 comment about "Nuts and bolts: How U.S. Soccer's presidential election will work".
  1. Wooden Ships, January 7, 2018 at 10:36 a.m.

    Thank you very much Paul. There had to be hours of work putting this together. Now, where did I put that aspirin?

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