Tahawk, I agree with your post, both the specifics and the philosophy, but one little nitpick: I believe the Troop Guide is also appointed by the SPL in consultation with (or whatever the exact words are) the SM. Same as with the ASPL, Scribe, QM, Instructors, etc.
There have also been discussions in the forum of the JASM position that revealed that in some BSA publications/web pages the JASM is also appointed by the SPL, and in others the JASM is appointed solely by the SM. In our troop it has always been solely up to the SM whether to appoint a JASM and who to appoint. It really doesn't make sense for the SPL to be involved in that one. The JASM is part of the SM's staff, not the SPL's staff.
We have been teaching "around here" for many years that the Troop Guide is appointed by the SM. I confess that I never "looked it up" and can find no official pronouncement now except the TOE providing that the Troop Guide reports not to the SPL but to an Assistant Scoutmaster. Boy Scout Handbook, 13th Ed. at p. 24. True, that TOE is a wreck, with the New Scout Patrol Leader reporting to the Troop Guide and all the other PLs reporting to an ASPL. This situation leaves me with my customary position: if it's not clear, do what seems best. If B.S.A. is serious about Troop Guides being appointed by the SM, they need to say so clearly.
7-9 boys is a patrol and should be run as one I think. A patrol is where a Scout is to primarily experience Scouting. Troops exist for administrative convenience of patrols and do not seem critical to Boy Scouting, even if critical to the Corporation.
A secret ballot for SPL is necessary because it is not unclear what the rule is. It is clear and unequivocal: "All members of a troop vote by secret ballot to choose their senior patrol leader [incorrect capitalization in the original]. Rank and age requirements to be a senior patrol leader [sic] are determined by each troop, as is the schedule of elections. " \http://www.scouting....p_Positions.pdf
The dynamic of the secret ballot, regarded by our founders as essential to truly free elections, is a different mechanism that choosing by public acclamation. If well-oiled machines were the goal, as the "Troop Method" adults argue, adults should run the troops and patrols. "Working better" is the classic rationale of adults for refusing to deliver Boy Scouting.
As for PLs:
"The members of each patrol elect one of their own to serve as patrol leader. The troop determines the requirements for patrol leaders, such as rank and age. To give more youths the opportunity to lead, most troops elect patrol leaders twice a year. Some may have elections more often."
I read those words in light of American history and culture as also calling for a secret ballot.
Being involved in "politics" is not to be avoided as our job, in pertinent part, is turning out good citizens, inclusive of political leaders and other participants in the "hassle" and "mess" of the political process.
None of this precludes what is often called "the speech: by the SM. Example: "... And remember that whomever you elect will represent you to the rest of the PLs/the adults of the Committee, so you might want to vote for someone who will be respected and listened to, as opposed to someone who tells the best jokes. If your elected representative is not respected by the PLC/Committee, your wishes about Troop program may be pretty much ignored. Pick wisely." If you are respected you can influence the project. Have a light "hand."
The goal is electing a leader, not electing whomever the adults think is best. And if he does not work out, the scouts had an educational experience and can hold another election.
It is only fair to them to point out that every adult who decides not to follow B.S.A. program and offer Bob Scouting or Joe Scouting does so because he sincerely thinks he knows better than B.S.A., including, to the largest extent, Bill Hillcourt, in whom I, personally, have great confidence.