Mistress Mercedes, East Kingdom Seneschal, and Duchess Thyra, our most recently retired Queen, have collaborated on the following article which describes how the process of selecting new landed Barons and Baronesses actually works.

Guthfrith and Isobel, newly invested Baron and Baroness of Ruantallan swear fealty. Photo courtesy of Baroness Ygraine of Kellswood.

The East Kingdom has had quite a few Baronial Investitures over the past year. When the ballots are sent in, they seem to disappear into a black hole for several weeks, and then the Crown announces who will be the next baronial seat. Let’s shed some light on what happens at the Kingdom level after you send in your ballot.

By Kingdom law there are two types of ballots that Baronies may use: the single-choice method and the multiple-choice method (aka The Borda Method). Baronial seneschals work with the Branch Polling Deputy to decide which method is best for their group. Sometimes a group has just two candidate slates, so they may choose a simple “pick one” ballot. Sometimes, it is a ranking of all the candidates, with some extra math that accounts for how the populace feels about their options.  Both methods give the option to write in comments, which will be read by the Crown. These comments will be kept confidential, and are not shared with anyone in the Barony.

Once a ballot is filled out, it is mailed to the Branch Polling Deputy, who counts the ballots and runs the calculations. The Deputy then sends the whole package to the Regional Seneschal (or other kingdom officer who is not a resident of the polled barony), who then repeats the process. Then the package is mailed to the Kingdom Seneschal, who again repeats the process and writes up a confidential report for the Crown.

The report includes:

The names of those officers who counted the ballots
The number of ballots sent out and returned
The tallies
The percentages
The comments (anonymous)

The report also has this language:

“The information contained within this letter is confidential. This information may not be shared with anyone not on the distribution list above without the express permission of Their Majesties or the Kingdom Seneschal.””Returned ballots may only be viewed by the talliers, the Kingdom Seneschal and/or the Kingdom Seneschal’s designates, and the Crown.”

“This letter is a recommendation to Their Majesties. It is NOT an announcement of Their decision. Their Majesties will consider this letter and make Their decision at a later date.”

“It is Their Majesties’ privilege to announce Their Decision on this matter. Until such time as they do, this report is confidential and may not be divulged to any party. Even after Their Decision is announced, actual numbers of returned pollings and the preferences therein are never to be divulged to any party or parties.”

While the populace may be very interested in the results of a poll, it is important to the process that the results be kept confidential. However, there are still the checks and balances of having different officers all double-check the counts and math.

Endewearde Baronial Investiture, Sept. 28, 2013 Photo by Lady Camille des JardinsThis all sounds very democratic. And indeed, if any slate of candidates receives a simple majority of valid ballots (51%), the Crown is bound by Law to invest that slate. However, it is somewhat rare that a slate of candidates receives this percentage (due to abstentions or a large ballot). In all other cases, the Crown is charged with deciding the succession. There are no guidelines in Law as to how the Crown should make their decision when a simple majority is not achieved. The East Kingdom is a monarchy, after all.

Running for the baronial seat is a difficult process in and of itself. There are usually months of meetings, many letters to write and questions to answer. And in the end, only one set of candidates can be chosen, regardless of how close the polls may be. We applaud every candidate who steps up to give their time and energy toward the welfare of their barony, even if they are not chosen. It requires bravery and loyalty even to put their name in.

If you ever have any questions about how something works in the Kingdom, we encourage you to write to the Seneschal at seneschal@eastkingdom.org. Their job is to look after the welfare of the populace, and that includes you!

Ruantallan Baronial Investiture photo by Baroness Ygraine of Kellswood.
Endewearde Baronial Investiture photo by Lady Camille des Jardins.