Local Election Guidelines
If you do not have an Election Committee, it is wise to select one. There are many legal requirements concerning the conduct of elections, and having someone who can manage this important task is key to substantially reducing any problems that may arise if these requirements are not met.
Ballots need not be mailed to the members’ homes. However, you are still required to mail an Election Notice to every member’s home not less than 15 days before the election.
It’s a good idea to obtain a second mailbox solely for election ballots in order to maintain security and to ensure ballots can be retrieved separately if returned during the conduct of the election.
One of the Local’s obligations is to update the membership mailing list on a regular basis, especially before an election.
It is best to require completed Nomination and Nomination Acceptance Forms to be returned to a secure location or a member of the Election Committee. Several Locals allow these forms to be returned to an Executive Board member, but several times these persons may actually be running for office and should not be part of the Local’s election procedures.
It is important to validate the eligibility of each member receiving and returning a ballot and to ensure that only one ballot is returned for each member. Many Locals validate ballots with a numbering system. Validation through signatures on the outside of the return envelope is not a sufficient method of validating membership status unless the Local uses a “signature key” for each member for comparison. DoL specifically recommends Locals not institute procedures requiring members to sign the outside of the return envelope.
There should be enough time between the Posting of Nominations and the distribution of ballots for candidates to campaign. We recommend a minimum of three weeks for this purpose as DoL does not identify what constitutes a reasonable amount of time for campaign purposes.
The Local must comply with a candidate’s request to distribute campaign material to members at the candidate’s own expense. Additionally, the Local must refrain from discriminating against any candidate with respect to the use of membership lists. Candidates have the right to inspect a list containing the names and addresses of members subject to a union security agreement within 30 days prior to the election. Whatever rules the Election Committee establishes for the purpose of providing candidates access to member mailing lists should be published and provided to all candidates.
Candidates and supporters are prohibited from using Union funds or equipment to prepare or distribute campaign material. That includes the use of computers, copiers, or printers. It is imperative as well to avoid the use of agency equipment and funds as well, including copiers.