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Guidance on Electing Chapter and Section Delegates

This page contains guidance for chapters and sections that are electing delegates to send to the AAUP biennial meeting. You may also wish to see:


Under the AAUP Constitution, while all AAUP members may attend the AAUP biennial meeting, only delegates of chapters and sections are entitled to participate in elections and to have a voice and vote on matters brought before the meeting. (There is no longer a provision for AAUP state conference delegates.) The election of delegates is governed by federal labor law, and therefore requirements for the election of delegates are generally different than those for the election of chapter officers. Chapter officers can serve as delegates provided that their election as officers satisfies the requirements for delegate elections. The requirements governing the election of section delegates are generally the same as electing chapter delegates, with a couple of exceptions noted below. (Therefore, unless otherwise noted, “delegates” refers to both chapter and section delegates.) Once the delegates are elected by the chapter or section, the same general procedures are used for registering and credentialing of all delegates, and all delegates have the same voting and participation rights at the meeting.

Sample Special Election and Campaign Rules for Election of Delegate(s) and Sample Nomination Notice

These are sample rules and a nomination notice and explanations that sections and chapters may use for the nomination and election of delegates. The following sample documents are available as Word documents so that they can be downloaded and customized.

Chapter Documents

Section Documents

Presentation Slides on Electing Chapter and Section Delegates

This provides an overview of the rules governing the nomination and election of delegates, reviews sample documents, and discusses some practical aspects of nominating and electing delegates. Here's the link to the slides.

FAQS on Election of Delegates to the AAUP Meetings

This provides general guidance for AAUP chapters and sections on the federal and AAUP requirements governing nominations and elections of delegates. There may be additional requirements under a chapter’s constitution, and in some instances under state law. The information below also includes links to AAUP sample material and to guidance from the US Department of Labor.

Are there rules that apply to the election of delegates?

The AAUP Constitution has provisions governing the election of chapter and section delegates (Art. VI, Sec. 3 and Sec. 4). In addition, federal law applies to elections for delegates to the AAUP biennial meeting. Federal law does not apply to elections of officers of advocacy chapters or public sector chapters, but it does apply to those chapters’ elections of delegates and officers who serve as delegates by virtue of their elections. The requirements of federal law and the below guidance do not apply to other types of union elections, such as elections of grievance committee members, shop stewards, or bargaining team members.

How many delegates does a chapter or section have?

Under the AAUP Constitution (Art. VI, Sec. 3), for every 250 members or fraction thereof of a chapter, or every 250 members or fraction thereof from chapters participating in a section, a chapter or section is entitled to one delegate to the AAUP biennial meetings, up to a maximum of 10 delegates. Therefore, if a chapter or section has 251 members it is entitled to 2 delegates. There can also be alternate delegates. Both delegates and alternate delegates must be elected. All sections and chapters must provide members the opportunity to nominate and elect delegates (for example, chapters and sections cannot opt out of electing delegates). However, chapters and sections are not required to send delegates to the AAUP meeting and are not obligated to elect or send all of the delegates to which they are entitled (for example, a chapter or section entitled to send 8 delegates could choose to only elect and send 4).

Can chapter officers serve as delegates to the AAUP meeting?

Yes. Chapters may decide to have their officers also serve as delegates to the AAUP meeting if they so provide in their chapter’s constitution and the officers are elected in compliance with the requirements for delegate elections. 

How are delegate elections conducted?

All elections of delegates to the AAUP meeting must comply with federal law. However, as explained below, if there is no more than one nominee for each delegate position, the nominees can be elected by acclamation and a ballot election does not need to be held. Chapters may have separate elections for delegates, or the election of officers can serve as the election of some or all of the chapter’s delegates. If chapters do not yet have a provision in their constitution for the election of delegates, they can hold a special election for delegates which should follow these guidelines. Sections should adopt election rules each time a section is formed, samples of which are above.

How are nominations conducted?

Members must always be provided with a reasonable opportunity to nominate individuals for delegate positions. Under federal law, the chapter or section must provide at least 10 days notice of the delegate position(s) to be filled, and the deadlines and requirements for submitting nominations in a way that is reasonably calculated to reach all the members, such as through prominent display in a union newsletter sent to all members or through email notice to members. (Mail notice of nominations is allowed, but not required.) Sections must provide notice to the members of all of the chapters that are participating in a section. Chapters may hold nominations and/or elections at a chapter meeting so long as there is sufficient notice and the meeting is held at a place and time that is reasonably accessible to all members. Members may be candidates even if they do not attend the meeting. Chapters and sections should confirm that each nominee is eligible to serve as a delegate. In order to allow adequate time for an election, the nomination notice should be sent out by late March with nominations due no later than mid-April. 

Who is eligible to be nominated to serve as a delegate?

To be eligible to serve as a delegate, an individual must be a member in good standing of the AAUP and of the chapter, or of a chapter in any section. Chapters may also have other reasonable and uniform requirements for candidates. In addition, under federal law, individuals convicted of certain crimes are not eligible to serve until thirteen years after conviction or release from imprisonment.

If there is only one nominee for each position, do we need to hold a ballot election?

No.  If there has been a reasonable opportunity for nominations and the chapter or section does not permit write-in votes, a ballot election is not required and the nominee is considered elected by acclamation. For a chapter, the prohibition of write-in votes may be in the chapter constitution, in a policy or rule, or a matter of past practice. For example, the chapter’s executive board or the membership could pass a policy, or include in any elections rules or policies, language such as: “Write-in votes are not permitted. In the event that only one candidate is nominated for a given office, no ballot election is required, and that candidate is considered elected by acclamation.” For a section, the prohibition on write-in votes can be in the section election rules (as is the case for the sample rules above).

What happens if there is a vacancy in a delegate position?

If there is an alternate delegate elected under the delegate rules, that person can fill in for the delegate. If a vacancy for a delegate position (including one where a chapter officer serves as a delegate) is filled by appointment rather than by a secret ballot election, the interim delegate may attend the AAUP meeting as a delegate, but may not vote in the election of AAUP officers or Council members.

How do we hold a ballot election?

There are a number of requirements for holding a ballot election of delegates in a way that satisfies federal law so guidance from the US Department of Labor and the AAUP should be followed. There are also significant minimum notice and balloting time frames, and chapters and sections should ensure at least 4 weeks between the close of the nominations and the receipt and counting of election ballots. Delegate elections must be concluded prior to the deadline for delegate registration of May 15 (or the next weekday when May 15 falls on a weekend). Guidance on ballot elections is available in the following locations:

  • Presentation slides on Electing Chapter and Section Delegates (see the information about holding elections)
  • The sample chapter and section election documents above. 
  • The US Department of Labor publications listed below. 

Additional Material

US Department of Labor