Election Guidance for Chapters

FAQS on Election of Chapter Officers and Delegates to the AAUP Meetings

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

Are there rules that apply to the election of chapter officers or delegates?

The AAUP Constitution has provisions governing the election of chapter officers (Article VII, Section 5) and chapter delegates (Art. VI, Sec. 3). In addition, federal law applies to elections for delegates to the AAUP biennial meeting (where national AAUP officers are elected) and to elections of chapter officers in private sector collective bargaining chapters. 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.

What officers does a chapter need?

Under the revised AAUP Constitution (Art. VII, Sec. 5), each chapter should have at least the following officers: president, vice-president, and treasurer (or secretary-treasurer). Many chapters also have additional officers, such as board members or trustees, or a separate secretary. All chapter officers must be elected at least once every three years (and every four years for state conferences).

How many delegates does a chapter have?

Under the AAUP Constitution (Art. VI, Sec. 3), chapters are entitled to one delegate to AAUP biennial meetings per 250 members or fraction thereof, up to a maximum of 10 delegates. Both delegates and alternate delegates must be elected by secret ballot.  All chapters must provide members the opportunity to nominate and elect delegates (for example, chapters cannot opt out of electing delegates). However, chapters are not required to send delegates to the AAUP meeting.

Can chapter officers serve as delegates to the AAUP meeting?

Yes. Chapters may elect 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 by secret ballot, as required by federal law. The AAUP Sample Chapter Bylaws have been revised to include such language.

How are delegate elections conducted?

All elections of chapter delegates to the AAUP meeting must be by secret ballot and must comply with federal law. 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.

What happens if there is a vacancy in an officer/delegate position?

If there is a vacancy in an officer position, the vacancy can be filled for up to the remainder of the term as provided by a chapter’s constitution. Under federal law, a secret ballot election does not need to be held to fill a vacancy. However, if a vacancy for an officer/delegate position is filled by appointment rather than by a secret ballot election, the interim officer may attend the AAUP meeting as a delegate, but may not vote in the election of AAUP officers.

How are nominations conducted?

Members must always be provided with a reasonable opportunity to nominate individuals for officer and/or delegate positions. Under federal law, the chapter must provide notice of the offices 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.) Chapters may hold both nominations and elections at the same 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.  A member may be a candidate even if he/she does not attend the meeting.

Who is eligible to be nominated to serve as an officer and/or delegate?

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

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

No.  If there has been a reasonable opportunity for nominations and the chapter does not permit write- in votes, the chapter is not required to conduct balloting. 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.”

How do we hold a ballot election?

There are several methods for conducting secret ballot elections. First, a chapter can hold an election at a chapter meeting, so long as members can reasonably be expected to attend the meeting. If some members cannot attend a meeting, an opportunity for an absentee ballot (that must be delivered in a sealed envelope prior to the meeting) may be provided. Second, a chapter can hold an election by sending a mail ballot to all eligible members. Third, a chapter can hold an election using designated polling locations (such as a union office), so long as the voting takes place in secure conditions and the election meets the general requirements. Under federal law, electronic voting is not currently feasible. Electronic voting may be conducted for elections not governed by federal law. The Department of Labor has useful guidance, sample forms and material, for local union officer elections and for conducting mail ballot elections under federal law.

How do we notify members regarding the secret ballot election?

If a ballot election is held, federal law requires that a notice of the election be mailed to all members at their home addresses at least 15 days prior to the election. (A mail notice of the ballot election is required even if the election is held at a union meeting or by use of a designated polling location.) If the election is held by mail ballot, the notice of the election can be mailed along with the ballot, so long as the members have at least 15 days to cast their ballots.

Additional Material

US Department of Labor