Scoutmaster Resources

Order of the Arrow Election rules and procedures

Requirements for Election for Youth Members
(in the OA, a 'youth' is anyone under the age of 21; this differs from the BSA's 'youth' which ends at the age of 18)
  1. Youth elections are normally held at a troop meeting, and take about 20 minutes to complete. In order for an election to be held, at least 50% of your youth members must be present (based on your current chartered troop membership) if less than 50% are present, the election may not be conducted and must be rescheduled. Only elections conducted by an official OA election team trained by Pamola Lodge will be considered valid. Members of your own troop cannot conduct an election for your troop.
  2. Must be under 21 years old at the time of election.
  3. Hold at least the First Class Scout rank (this includes Assistant Scoutmasters over the age of 18 but under the age of 21; they have to have earned First Class before their 18th birthday).
  4. In the past two years, have completed fifteen (15) days and nights of camping under the auspices of the Boy Scouts of America. The fifteen days and nights of camping must include one long-term camp of six days and five nights, and the balance of the camping must be short-term (1, 2, or 3 night) camps.

Have these requirements certified by the Scoutmaster BEFORE the election is conducted.

Requirements for Election for Adult Members
(in the OA, an 'adult' is anyone 21 years of age or older; this differs from the BSA's 'adult' which begins at the age of 18)

Adult membership qualifications.
All members of, or candidates for membership in, the Order of the Arrow who are 21 years of age or older and who are registered members of the Boy Scouts of America shall be considered adult members or candidates for adult membership. Individuals shall be selected as candidates based on the following:

Adult leaders in units:

Each year, upon holding a troop or team election for youth candidates that results in at least one youth candidate being elected, the unit committee may nominate adults to the lodge adult selection committee, composed of the lodge adviser, the chairman of the council committee on which the lodge adviser serves, and the lodge staff adviser. The number of adults nominated can be no more than one-third of the number of youth candidates elected, rounded up where the number of youth candidates is not a multiple of three.

In addition to the one-third limit, the unit committee may nominate the currently serving unit leader (but not assistant leaders), as long as he or she has served as unit leader for at least the previous 12 months. Recommendations of the adult selection committee, with the approval of the Scout executive, serving as Supreme Chief of the Fire, will be candidates for induction, provided the following conditions are fulfilled:

  • Selection of the adult is based on the ability to perform the necessary functions to help the Order fulfill its purpose, and not for recognition of service, including current or prior achievement and positions.
  • The individual will be an asset to the Order because of demonstrated abilities that fulfill the purpose of the Order.
  • The camping requirements set forth for youth members are fulfilled.
  • The adult leader's membership will provide a positive example for the growth and development of the youth members of the lodge. Please use the adult nomination form here.

How to schedule a Unit Election / How the election is conducted for youth

The Patrol Leader's Council picks a date for the OA election. Dates should be picked far enough in advance to allow the election team to schedule the election. Elections are best held during a regular troop meeting, at a time where as close to 100% of the troop as possible can attend.
  • The SM or SPL contacts the Chapter Adviser (see here). The election is scheduled through the Adviser. The SM or SPL should be prepared to give clear driving directions, meeting time and location, and what time they would like the election team to be there. The election team typically arrives 10 minutes before the election to set up and start the necessary procedure.
  • The Scoutmaster prepares a list of eligible candidates for election based on the requirements above. Prior to the election, the Scoutmaster should notify and counsel those Scouts who he is not recommending for election. If possible, the Scoutmaster or Senior Patrol Leader could prepare preprinted ballots with all the names of the eligible candidates. If not, the election team will have blank ballots with them.
  • About a week before the election, the Election Team will contact the Scoutmaster to verify the election, location, time, etc. Any questions or concerns should be resolved at this point. 5. The election team arrives before the election is held. They will ask for the number of Scouts registered in the troop; the number of Scouts present at the meeting; and the names and ranks of all Scouts who are deemed eligible by the Scoutmaster. The Scoutmaster certifies this information on the election form.
  • The election team conducts the OA unit election. The names of the candidates are presented, and the election team explains the criteria for voting. Voting for candidates is done by secret ballot, and no interference or public revelation of an individual's votes or the votes in total is tolerated. All youth, including Assistant Scoutmasters under the age of 21, may vote. Candidates may vote for themselves if they think that they are worthy.
  • Candidates voting have three options:
  •    They can NOT turn in a ballot, which is abstaining. This does not affect the final result.
  •    They can turn in a blank ballot, which is a vote for nobody. This counts against all candidates.
  •    They can vote for any number, including all, of the candidates eligible. This helps those who they vote for, and hurts those who they don't vote for.
  • Ballots are collected by the team and counted in private. In order to be elected, a candidate has to receive 50% of the ballots COLLECTED (abstentions don't count against the final, but blank ballots do). The election team notes which scouts have been elected, and destroys the ballots (preferably off-site). If no one Scout has enough votes to be elected, the election team re-runs the election, with further explanations of the OA and offering to answer questions. If the result of the second ballot is that again no one is elected, that counts as the election for this year. As long as one youth is elected, the election is valid.
  • Completing the Ordeal, a weekend-long experience that tests a Scout's dedication to the Scout Oath and Law, is the final step for membership in the Order of the Arrow. Pamola Lodge has thee Ordeals each year, one in May, August, and October, so the candidate generally has three opportunities to complete the Ordeal. Please do not hold off on notifying a candidate unnecessarily so that he misses a chance to be inducted. If a Scout does not complete the Ordeal within one year, they would need to be re-elected.