Instructions to Candidates

1. Committee on Elections

In accordance with Article VI of the AFSA Bylaws, the Governing Board has appointed a Committee on Elections. The Committee on Elections shall have full power within the association to conduct regular elections for Governing Board, recall elections, and any vote on amendments to these Bylaws. The Committee shall establish regulations for these procedures and interpret relevant sections of the Bylaws, resolve disputes and determine and declare election results. Committee members shall be impartial in the performance of their duties while serving as Committee members and are appointed for two-year terms. The Committee is supported by members of the AFSA professional staff.

2. Application of Law and Bylaws

The election of the officers and members of the Governing Board will be conducted in accordance with the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA), the Foreign Service Act, and also, insofar as lawful and practicable, with the AFSA Bylaws.

3. Officers to be Elected

As provided in Article V of the AFSA Bylaws, a new election will be conducted in 2019 for 21 members of the Governing Board. The following positions will be filled in this election:

President State Department Representatives (6)
Secretary USAID Representative (1)
Treasurer USAGM Representative (1)
Vice President for State APHIS Representative (1)
Vice President for USAID Retired Member Representatives (2)
Vice President for FCS Alternative FCS Representative (1)
Vice President for FAS Alternative FAS Representative (1)
Vice President for Retirees  

4. Term of Office

The officers elected will serve a two-year term ending on July 15, 2021. Nominations are due February 1, 2019. Installation of the officers will take place on July 15, 2019, as provided in Article VII of the Bylaws.

5. Type of Election

The AFSA Committee on Elections has hired a third-party vendor to facilitate the election and ensure the integrity of the process. The Committee shall ensure the secrecy of each member’s vote.

6. Meeting with the Candidates

The AFSA Committee on Elections invites all candidates to meet (or participate in a conference call) at 12 noon EST on Tuesday, February 12, 2019 at AFSA Headquarters at 2101 E Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20037. The meeting will address the following:

A. Review of campaign procedures as described in this document.

B. Campaign meetings for constituencies (see Section 14 below).

C. Description of online Foreign Service Community forum.

D. Description of ballot format.

E. Any other questions regarding the election process as the Committee or candidates may wish to raise.

F. Drawings of lots to determine:

1. the order in which candidates’ campaign statements will appear in the AFSA mailing of campaign statements;

2. the order of candidates’ names on the ballot; and

3. the order in which candidates’ campaign statements will appear in the three “blast” AFSA emails (see section 12 below).

7. Candidates and Candidate Slates

Candidates for office may run individually or as part of a slate. To qualify as a slate, a proposed slate must have a minimum of four candidates from at least two constituencies as indicated in the Call for Nominations. Each slate must designate a Head of Slate to deal with the Committee on Elections and the AFSA staff. Slate participants must be identified to the Committee on Elections at no later than 5 p.m. EST March 1, 2019.

8. Campaign Statements at AFSA Expense

All candidates are invited to submit campaign statements (which may include biographical information) to the Committee on Elections to be distributed to AFSA members with the election ballots. The Committee will insist that the campaign statements be in good taste and meet professional standards. All such material must be submitted no later than March 1, 2019, to (email or plain text in MS Word format). A confirmation of receipt will be sent.

The following conditions will apply to the material submitted by candidates:

A. Maximum length for campaign statements of individual candidates:

1. President or Head of Slate—650 words

2. Constituency Vice President—450 words

3. Treasurer—450 words

4. Secretary–450 words

5. Constituency Representative—225 words

B. The Presidential candidate or Head of Slate may include an integrated slate statement as a part of his or her individual candidate statement. All slate members will be identified as belonging to the slate and may include reference to the slate in their individual candidate statements.

C. In the event a statement exceeds the allotted number of words, the AFSA staff will endeavor to reach the candidate or the slate to make the necessary adjustments. If that candidate or slate cannot be reached before the printing deadline, or if time does not permit, the AFSA staff will reduce the length by cutting from the bottom.

D. AFSA will post all candidate statements, as edited for the mailing, on the AFSA web site:

E. Candidate photographs will not accompany the statements but are encouraged in the online Foreign Service Community.

9. Campaign Advertising in The Foreign Service Journal

Any AFSA member, either as an individual or as a representative of a committee or group of members, may submit advertisements for publication in The Foreign Service Journal in support of any candidate, candidates, or slate or concerning any issue in the election, provided that such material is clearly identified as an advertisement and bears the name of the member or members who submit and pay for it. Both The Foreign Service Journal staff and the Committee on Elections will insist that advertisements be in good taste and meet professional standards.

Arrangements for the placement of campaign advertising in The Foreign Service Journal are to be made directly with Marketing and Communications Manager Allan Saunders, AFSA Headquarters, 2101 E Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037, (202) 719-9712, and must conform to the following requirements:

A. Sizes and prices of advertisement must meet specifications on The Foreign Service Journal rate card, with a 50% reduction in rates.

B. All advertising must bear the legend, ADVERTISEMENT, above the copy in eight-point type, all caps.

C. Such advertisement must bear at the bottom the statement that it is a paid advertisement, and the name of the AFSA member(s) placing the advertisement.

D. Print-ready copy (PDF or JPG file 300 dpi or better) for the advertisement must be received by Marketing and Communications Manager (Allan Saunders, by 12 noon EST on March 1, 2019, for the May 2019 issue of The Foreign Service Journal.

E. Proofs will be furnished on request. The Foreign Service Journal staff will not be responsible for errors in any advertisement proof that has been approved by the advertiser or by his/her agent.

10. Inspection of the AFSA Membership List

Every candidate has the right to inspect a complete list in PDF format of the names and last known addresses of all AFSA members at AFSA’s Member Services Department at 2101 E Street, NW, Washington D.C. 20037 once within the 30 days prior to the distribution of ballots, which will occur on or about April 28, 2019. To view this list, contact Member Services at (202) 338-4045 or

11. Mailing of Campaign Literature

Section 401(c) of the LMRDA provides that a union must comply with all reasonable requests by any candidate to distribute campaign literature at the candidate’s expense.

A. Any candidate may obtain from the AFSA Member Services Department, at his/her own expense, address labels for individual constituencies or for all members. Charges for address labels for the full list of members will be approximately $800; anything less than the full list will be prorated at cost. This service can be obtained by calling Member Services at (202) 338-4045 or emailing

B. Any candidate who wishes to mail campaign literature at his/her expense may ask the AFSA Member Services Department to identify qualified and reliable job printers and mailing houses. Note: Campaign material cannot be sent through the diplomatic pouch without postage.

12. Emails

AFSA’s election constitutes internal union business. Federal and agency policy prohibits the use of official time or agency or union resources, including but not limited to photocopying machines, email, telephones, fax machines and working hours for internal union business. However, AFSA has requested that the foreign affairs agencies agree to permit the transmission of three (3) “blast” email messages to AFSA members with email addresses ending in .gov. If permission is granted, then:

A. Any candidates and/or slates that wish to participate in the three (3) “blast” emails may include statements or appeals to voters in these messages and should submit them to the Committee on Elections by email to in plain text or Word document no later than the following dates:

   Message 1 – March 20, 2019

   Message 2 – April 10, 2019

   Message 3 – May 1, 2019

   Candidates whose material does not reach the Committee by 5 p.m. EST on these dates will not be included in the email to be distributed shortly thereafter. Campaign material sent in these three (3) “blast” email transmissions to U.S. Government email addresses must be in good taste and devoid of scurrilous language. The Committee on Elections reserves the right to remove any material it deems inappropriate. Material submitted by individual candidates must not exceed 150 words per message; material submitted by a slate must not exceed 300 words. Individual slate members’ statements will not be included if a slate statement is submitted.

   Note that the “blast” emails are the only messages permitted to be sent to email addresses ending in .gov during the election. They may not be reproduced, forwarded or further transmitted in any way. Employees found to have used .gov accounts to communicate in any way about these elections could be subject to disciplinary action by their agency.

   In addition to the “blast” email sent to .gov addresses, AFSA will send an identical email to its members who have provided AFSA with their private email addresses, i.e., non-governmental addresses. Candidates should be aware that not all AFSA members have provided a private, non-governmental-supplied email address to AFSA and therefore the email is unlikely to reach all members.

   Candidates, their supporters, and all other persons must refrain from sending or forwarding campaign-related email from or to email addresses provided by their employer, except through AFSA as described above. It is against Federal law for anyone to use union or employer resources, including email, to promote or oppose candidates in a union officer election. Foreign affairs agency employees should use their private email accounts to communicate directly with candidates at their private, non-governmental email accounts or utilize the online AFSA Community discussion forum for candidates, available via the AFSA website.

B. Candidates may also request AFSA (via an AFSA-selected private vendor) to send out campaign emails for a fee to all private, non-union or non-government supplied email addresses of AFSA members, or to particular constituencies within AFSA. Candidates should be aware that not all AFSA members have provided a private, non-union or non-governmental supplied email address to AFSA and therefore these emails are unlikely to reach all members.

   The cost of conducting such private, non-union or employer supplied email communications to AFSA members will be $100 for the all the constituencies or any fraction thereof. Requests for email distribution should be directed to Member Services at (202) 338-4045 or

13. Campaign Restrictions

A. LMRDA Section 401(g) prohibits the use of any union or employer funds or resources to promote the candidacy of any person in a union officer election. This prohibition applies to cash, facilities, equipment (including photocopiers, computers, printers, and email), vehicles, office supplies, newsletters and other publications and any other financial or in-kind resources of AFSA and any other union, and of any employers, whether or not they employ AFSA members. Union officers and employees may not campaign on time paid for by the union or by any employer.

   As stated in the above paragraph, candidates, their supporters and all other persons must refrain from sending campaign-related email from or to email addresses provided by the union or employer, except for the three blast emails referenced in 12A. This use of email violates Federal law governing union officer elections. Campaign-related email may be sent from private, non-employer supplied email addresses to private, non-employer supplied email addresses only. The same applies to the use of employer or union telephones to promote a candidacy. Campaign-related phone calls may be made from private, non-employer-supplied phone/phone numbers to private, non-employer-supplied phone/phone numbers.

B. The AFSA online membership directory and the AFSA Retiree Directory are the property of AFSA and, as such, the use of these resources for campaign purposes is strictly prohibited.

C. Federal law provides that candidates must be treated equally regarding the opportunity to campaign.

D. Candidates and their supporters are required to observe all applicable employer regulations when posting campaign notices or placing campaign literature in public locations and to respect materials placed in public locations in support or opposition of a candidate.

E. Candidates may make campaign calls, provided that they use a personal list to make those calls from a personal cell phone or home phone to a private cell phone or home phone.

F. Candidates must campaign on their own time and may not campaign within employer or union working hours. If campaigning to AFSA members, they, too, should be on their own time, not within working hours of either their employer or the union.

G. Candidates must keep all receipts for campaign purchases (including copies of campaign literature) to demonstrate that they paid full market price for all products and services.

H. Candidates must keep track of all campaign donations to prove that all funds contributed to their campaigns were from private individuals and not unions or employers.

I. Section 401(e) of the LMRDA provides that members may not be subjected to penalty, discipline or improper interference or reprisal of any kind in the appropriate exercise of their right to support the candidate of their choice. If any candidate, potential candidate, AFSA member or anyone else is witnessed engaging in this type of activity, immediately contact the AFSA Committee on Elections and provide a detailed description of the perceived activity. See Section (20) for contact information.

14. Campaign Meetings and Online Forums

A. The Committee on Elections will hold a town-hall style campaign meeting on Tuesday, April 2, 2019 at 12:00 noon EST at the AFSA headquarters building in the first-floor meeting room for all interested candidates. Guidelines will be distributed to all candidates at the Tuesday, February 12, 2019 candidates’ meeting and sent via email. Candidates or slates may also organize their own meetings.

B. Candidates may submit a video message to be posted on the AFSA election website. Videos must not be more than 5 minutes for presidential candidates, 3 minutes for officer candidates and 2 minutes for representative candidates. All videos must be submitted to The Committee will insist that the videos be in good taste and meet professional standards. Any video deemed inappropriate by the Committee will not be posted. Videos may be submitted only once per candidate and will be posted shortly after submission.

1. The following video formats are acceptable:

•  .MOV

•  .MPEG4

•  3GPP

•  .AVI


•  MP4

•  .FLV

•  .WMV

•  WebM

2. Only a white background may be used.

C. The Foreign Service Online Community forum may be used for online discussion related to the election and bylaw amendments. Candidates may post statements and respond to questions from members in this discussion thread. Slates will be asked to assign one member of the slate as the point of contact for management of the forum. Candidates and forum participants will be required to follow the forum code of conduct as posted on the online Foreign Service Community page on the AFSA web site,

   Candidates are not prohibited from posting or replying to other discussion threads in the online forum, purely in their capacity as AFSA members. Campaign posts on threads which are not related to the AFSA election or bylaw amendments will be removed.

   The Committee will insist campaign posts are in good taste and meet professional standards and reserves the right to remove any posted material.

15. Use of AFSA Resources

A. During the election period (from now through July 15, 2019) AFSA staff and resources, including its website, publications and communications are not to be used to support or oppose any candidate or slate (other than the three AFSA-distributed “blast” emails described in Section 12, above).

B. To implement this policy, the Committee on Elections will screen all written and electronic communications between AFSA and any significant portion of its membership, including, but not limited to, the March 2019 – June 2019 issues of The Foreign Service Journal, AFSA News, and the AFSA Retiree Newsletter prior to publication.

C. AFSA representatives at posts abroad, when acting in their capacity as AFSA representatives, must scrupulously avoid actions tending to favor one candidate over another. Specifically, they have been instructed in that capacity to reject any requests to distribute or post campaign literature for candidates and must return such material to the requester. There are no restrictions on activities of AFSA representatives when they are acting in their personal capacities as individual AFSA members on their own time using their own resources.

D. AFSA staff has been directed to avoid any action that gives advantage to one candidate over another and to deal with candidates only as instructed by the Committee on Elections.

E. Any concern regarding use of AFSA publications and communications, or of AFSA staff and resources, should be brought to the attention of the Committee on Elections. See Section (20) for contact information.

16. Sanctions for Violations

A. A. The Committee on Elections has a responsibility to ensure that the elections are carried out in an equitable manner and in compliance with the LMRDA. Candidates and/or slates that violate campaign rules, knowingly or unknowingly, may receive the following sanctions. For example:

1. Providing opponents with opportunity to contact voters,

2. Advising voters of candidate infractions by email,

3. Posting candidate infractions on website or online forums, and/or

4. Informing Agency management of violations.

17. Ballots

The ballots will be distributed on or about April 29, 2019, to each person who is a regular member in good standing as of March 28, 2019. The printing, acquisition, custody, control, and distribution of ballots will be conducted by a firm hired by AFSA. Marked ballots must be received by 8:00 a.m., on June 12, 2019.

The AFSA Elections Committee will provide further details regarding voting in the near future. In addition, voting instructions will accompany the ballots.

18. Vote Counting and Announcement of Results

Beginning June 12, 2019, the ballots will be counted under the supervision of the Committee on Elections. The candidates receiving the greatest number of votes for each position will be declared elected. In case of a tie, the election will be decided by a coin toss in the presence of the candidates concerned or their representatives. Candidates or their representatives may observe the tally and may challenge the validity of any vote or the eligibility of any voter. The Committee will inform candidates individually of the election results by the swiftest possible means and will publish the results of the election on the AFSA website, in the next issue of The Foreign Service Journal and will distribute it by AFSA email.

19. Observers

Candidates have the right to have observers present at all phases of the election including:

A. The preparation and mailing of ballots (April 29, 2019);

B. The pick-up from the Post Office of the sealed envelopes containing the marked ballots of those members who have submitted printed ballots (June 12, 2019); and

C. The opening and counting of ballots (June 12, 2019).

Candidates wishing to observe either phase (A) or (B) above should so inform the Committee on Elections in advance and the necessary arrangements will be made at the candidate’s expense. Phase (C) is open to candidates and observers. Should candidates desire to observe other phases of the election process, they should get in touch with the Committee on Elections.

20. Election Questions, Suggestions, Complaints or Challenge

Any member may file a written question, suggestion or complaint concerning the conduct of the election by July 15, 2019. Questions, suggestions, or complaints should be addressed to:

Chair, Committee on Elections
2101 E St NW
Washington, D.C. 20037

Or, sent by email to:

Members may also file a written challenge to the outcome of the election. Such challenge must be received by July 15, 2019, and should be addressed to “Chair, AFSA Committee on Elections” and mailed or delivered to either the postal address or email noted above. The AFSA Committee on Elections will respond in writing to the challenge within three months of receipt of the challenge. If the member is not satisfied with the AFSA Committee on Elections’ response, the member may file a written complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS). Such a complaint must be received by the Department of Labor within one month of receipt of the Committee on Elections’ response.

Additional information regarding union elections may be found at the OLMS Website: