The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2023

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2023 53 AFSA NEWS Proposed Bylaw Amendments The Governing Board is proposing nine bylaw amend- ments to be voted on during the 2023 AFSA Elections. The proposed bylaw changes would: (1) Shorten the AFSA Governing Board election voting period; (2) Change procedures for accepting write-in candidates in Governing Board elections; (3) Change Governing Board residency and partici- pation requirements to allow for virtual participation by some members; (4) Change requirements for Committee on Elections membership, and make the Governance Committee and Legal Defense Committee permanent committees; (5) Constrain the Govern- ing Board’s ability to enter into nonessential multiyear financial commitments; (6) Change the thresh- old for member-initiated referenda and bylaw amend- ments; (7) Remove the require- ment for Governing Board approval of AFSA associate members; (8) Streamline wording on post representatives and AFSA chapters; and, (9) Allow the Governing Board to meet and cast votes virtually during public emer- gencies. The changes would become effective immedi- ately if approved by two- thirds of the valid votes received from members. Board positions in the Foreign Service agencies having fewer than 300 members some- times have had no candidates or have had several write-in candidates supported by only one member. The current bylaws do not establish pro- cedures for filling the position in such situations. Amendment Number 3— Governing Board Residency and Participation Requirements Amend Article V, Section 8 by striking the current text and inserting “The president, secretary, treasurer, con- stituency vice presidents, and representatives of constitu- encies with more than 299 members shall participate via in-person attendance at regularly scheduled meetings of the board within 60 days of taking office on July 15 or appointment to office thereaf- ter, and throughout their term in office. If they are unable to participate via in-person attendance at regularly scheduled meetings of the board, e.g., because of trans- fer, they shall submit their resignations. Representatives and alternate representatives of constituencies with fewer than 300 members may participate virtually in board meetings. Board members may be removed from office by a majority vote of the board after four absences in any 12-month period from regularly scheduled meetings of the board.” And amend Article V, Section 5(b) by striking “A majority of the members of the board shall constitute a quorum and must be present for any vote. Board mem- bers who will be outside the Washington area for a board meeting may leave a written proxy with another board member who shall vote that proxy in accordance with the wishes of the absent mem- ber or, absent indication of such preferences, in accor- dance with his or her own preference ” and inserting “A majority of the members of the board shall constitute a quorum either by in-person or virtual attendance. Board members required by Article V, Section 8 to participate via in-person residence may par- ticipate virtually two times in any 12-month period. Board members unable to partici- pate in-person or virtually at a given board meeting may leave a written proxy with another board member to vote on behalf of that absent member.” Justification: Experi- ence with virtual Governing Board meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic showed that it can be done, but that in-person meetings allow for better discussion and decision-making. Neverthe- less, given the recurring difficulty of finding members to fill the representative and alternate representa- tive positions of the Foreign Service agencies having Explanation of Proposed Changes Amendment Number 1— Election Period Amend Article VIII, Section 2(h) by striking “no fewer than 45 days after the mailing of the ballots” and inserting “no less than 15 days after the mailing of the ballots.” Justification: The cur- rent 45-day voting period for AFSA elections was established in the era when all voting was by paper ballots mailed to members and mailed back by them. In the 2020 AFSA elections, 98 percent of votes were cast online and only 49 ballots were mailed in. The long election period can be shortened by reducing the voting window from 45 to 15 days. Members who wish to vote by mail may still do so. Months before the start of the voting period, AFSA will send an AFSAnet and print a notice in The Foreign Service Journal , inviting interested members to request ballots that AFSA will then mail to them weeks before the start of the 15-day voting period. Amendment Number 2— Election Procedures Amend Article VIII, Section 2(i) by adding “ For any posi- tion receiving only write-in votes, if the leading candidate does not receive at least five votes, then the Governing Board shall fill the position.” Justification: In recent election cycles, Governing