Voter turnout is low for NAHJ board elections

The deadline for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists’ board elections is hours away, and despite record attendance at its conference, voter turnout has been low.

Less than 150 members had voted as of early Saturday, according to Vice President of Print Maria Peña.

“I wish I knew why,” Peña said.

No one is running for five out of 10 open board positions, and the rest are uncontested.

Dino Chiecchi, NAHJ president from 1996 to 1998, said it can be a time consuming job — especially in a changing media landscape that requires video, photo, social media, writing and reporting skills.

Peña, who served out Ed O’Keefe’s vice president of print term last year, is a write-in candidate for the job this year.

Like many others in the field, Peña said the demands of her job as a Washington D.C. correspondent for La Opinion LA made it hard to run a campaign.

That’s why Peña couldn’t get enough candidates to fulfill a requirement to get on the ballot. Candidates typically need at least 25 signatures from NAHJ members supporting their campaigns.

She was short two or three, she said.

Board members are volunteers. When Chiecchi served his term, the San Antonio Express-News paid for his flights, gave him time-off and supported his time on the board. Today, he said, not many companies are doing the same.

“Money is tight,” Chiecchi said. “Time is tight.”

Among the vacant slots is the Region 5 Director, who oversees Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

“That’s a big chunk of real estate,” Chiecchi said. “That’s a lot of members, and that’s a lot of potential members.”

Polls close at 5 p.m. Results for the election will be announced at the NAHJ Hall of Fame Gala at 7 p.m.

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