The following summary of the USASA National Specialty Judges Selection process is an extract of an article “ Who Chooses the National Specialty Judges? You Do!” published in the September/October 2010 issue of the Journal.

“Pure democracy” is the system by which conformation judges are chosen for our National Specialty. USASA members nominate and vote for their favorite judges – no one else does. You – the USASA members are the judges selection committee.


The USASA judges selection process has evolved through the years. In the very early years the USASA Board selected the judges. As the club began to grow, members would write to the Board, making their own judges nominations. That further evolved into the current system of letting the membership nominate and elect judges.

This approach was formalized in the late 1990’s when the late Roger McKay took charge of managing the judges selection process. According to Karen Broadus, former Board member, “It just made sense for Roger to take this as he was on the Board and was so involved with the Futurity.” Roger would solicit the membership for nominations, and then he would go out to the membership again with the nominations, asking them to vote their preferences. He would then tabulate the results and provide them to the National Show Chair, who would then take care of the hiring. After Roger’s death, the USASA National Show Committee (NSC) assumed responsibility for the selection and hiring process.

The NSC is allowed almost no discretion when it engages the conformation judges. Judges are hired in order of votes received – in other words, as directed by the members. So, it is important for members to make sure they vote!

Nominations and Elections

Members may nominate up to 4 individuals in Category I, Category II and Category III. Nominations are recorded by an independent attorney and forwarded to the NSC. The NSC takes the lists of nominated judges and includes them with the election materials for members to make their choices.

The Nomination Lists for the election consist of the top 20 vote getting judges in each category for the past 3 Nationals plus all new names nominated by the members. Members must vote from the Nomination Lists. They may select up to 4 individuals in each category. Any vote for someone not on the lists, or in the wrong category, is disregarded.

The election material also includes a list of judges from the past six Nationals. Not everyone remembers who has judged in the past, so this helps in refreshing memories. Also, this information is useful because there are certain restrictions that apply to judges who have previously judged at our Nationals. For example, judges who have judged Best of Breed cannot judge Best of Breed for the following six Nationals. All of this is explained in the election ballot instructions.

Once members have mailed in their ballots, the same attorney who compiled the nominations, now tallies the votes, certifying the final count and that all ballots are from current USASA members. The resulting list – your list – is what is used in hiring the Nationals judges. The NSC begins with the top vote getting judge, engaging the first available person in each category until the judges slate is complete.

Summing it all up, Leon Goetz writes, “The system is a good one, but only works at its best if all interested members participate. Judges selection for a National Specialty is important and those individuals selected can have a significant impact on our breed… Consequently, the membership should take this voting process seriously by participating in the vote.”

United States Australian Shepherd Association