Former Sporting athlete, candidate for the 2018 elections, João Benedito writes in 100 PERCENT SURE WINS an opinion article in which he addresses the main point of this Sunday’s General Assembly: universal electronic voting
In 2018 I took on one of the biggest challenges of my life, on a personal, professional, and emotional level. After 20 years as an athlete, I understood that the time had come to propose a project that would bring a paradigm shift to the existing governance projects in sports institutions.
In healthily contested elections, despite the largest number of voters, I ended up losing a number of votes.
That same evening, anticipating the needs of the times to come, I said that whoever won could add our votes, our respect, and our confidence to the votes they had obtained. Stability was needed. The presence of the candidate with the most votes would not do Sporting any good. I fought for a United Sporting, with Race and Future.
After more than 5 years, the members of Sporting Clube de Portugal are called upon to decide on the first proposal to amend the statutes since that date. We are called upon to decide on the laws and regulations of our Club.
As a member, interested and informed about the life of the Club, I want to give my opinion on the amendment to the bylaws proposed for tomorrow’s General Assembly. I intend that this opinion contributes so that Sporting’s Members can make informed decisions, with more knowledge and, fundamentally, with greater clarification about some concepts.
Before I give my opinion, allow me to quote Miguel Poiares Maduro, one of the greatest experts on this subject: “The expression universal suffrage is simply false. There is not a single expert who speaks of universal suffrage to refer to online voting. It is the right to vote that is universal. No method of voting is universal.”
In-person electronic voting: yes
The Board of Directors of Sporting Clube de Portugal proposes an amendment to the Club’s statutes so that it is now possible to vote electronically, remotely, in common and electoral General Meetings.
Pioneering spirit and innovation are characteristics that I always want to see at Sporting. Trust, Information, and Communication as well, especially in matters that carry this same pioneering spirit and innovation.
It is one thing to create conditions for the participation of the largest number of Members in the decisions of the General Meetings. I’m all for it! I would say that I am part of a majority that wants the maximum participation and bond of the Members to the associative life of Sporting Clube de Portugal.
Electronic voting, as it is already used in the General Electoral Assemblies, in which each member chooses their candidate in an electronic system in the João Rocha pavilion, brings many advantages, such as the speed of the count and the possibility of confirmation via printing of the votes.
Another thing is that a vote can be placed in a virtual ballot box, via an app installed on the tablet or smartphone. This other thing is very lacking, not only in information and communication but also in trust, security, credibility, freedom, and confidentiality.
Mobile phone voting: no!
There are few references to comparable solutions and even fewer successful ones. And, at a time when Sportinguistas are called to vote, there cannot be the slightest suspicion or risk. We can’t fail, not even closely.
We are, unfortunately, still hostages of traumas of alleged manipulation in the votes of electoral GAs within the Club and of historical conspiracy theories about ways to gather more votes with few voters. A change of this magnitude needs to be phased in to ingrain a perception of trust in our community about the topic, the system, and its implementation.
I also consider it extremely important not to confuse the excellent objective of expanding the participation of Members and the undeniable advantages of face-to-face electronic voting, already used in General Electoral Assemblies, with the suspicion, insecurity, distancing, and trivialization of a vote cast on a tablet with the screen split between WhatsApp and Netflix.
The General Assemblies, and the vote of each member, are solemn moments of the Club. This, too, must be passed on to the more digital generations. The AG as mistreated as they may have been, however less productive than desirable they may be, is the moment that brings together the Sportinguistas so that, together, we can decide. They are open and democratic, they celebrate associativism and Sportinguismo, where those who want to go, but above all those who legitimately can.
Do we want to live with the risk that those who choose to vote will not be the ones who have the legitimate right to do so? With the risk that those who validate the system may be interested in the outcome? With the risk of external interference interested only in harming? Very important note: this fear does not bring any suspicion about the seriousness of the current Governing Bodies of the club.
I also share the vision of a leading Sporting in digital, more interactive, closer, and more accessible, in institutional, commercial, and associative relations, in the enhancement of all our content and new experiences, in each new channel or technology that the future offers us.
The Transition via Sporting Clube de Portugal’s Nuclei
In 2018 I projected the need to extend the moment of voting to other geographies, in addition to Lisbon. I suggested polling stations in the Nuclei of each district capital. With the same objective: to include more partners in decision-making moments.
I would like to see remote electronic participation allowed and facilitated! Where? In the Nuclei — and what an opportunity this is to value these spaces and THESE PEOPLE! — in an environment that brings together reliable, unsuspected, transparent, safe physical processes with the militancy of Sportinguistas.
Give true relevance to the Nuclei in the life of the Club! Let the meeting between our people be promoted, where, as I have witnessed countless times, genuine Sportinguismo prevails. I do not see why these members should not mobilize to vote close to their homes. It is to give due importance to those who spend thousands of euros to be able to live, in person, Sporting. It’s about respecting and, here, putting them on the map!
It is as important to bring the Members closer to the Club, as the Club to the Members, promoting the debate, which was so lacking in this process, the sharing, the conviviality, the real experience of the moments in which we decide together, in which we feel our values.
Tomorrow we will be many, many to vote, together!
Long live Sporting Clube de Portugal!