How Do You Organize a Union Election?

January 18, 2023

If you're part of a union, you may need to organize a union election at some point. Union elections are required for members of the union to vote for officers to fill certain positions.

Union election voting involves several steps, and it is important to follow them in order to ensure a fair and democratic process.

What Are the Steps of Organizing a Union Election?

There are six main steps of organizing a union election. These include planning the practicalities, creating a budget, inviting nominations, ensuring fair campaigning, conducting the poll, and tabulating the results.

  1. Planning the Practicalities

The first step of a union election is to plan the practicalities. This includes deciding when and where the election will take place, who can vote, and how many positions are up for election. It's also important to decide the voting method during this step, as it will guide the next steps.

There are several voting methods available today, including online voting, mail-in ballots, and in-person voting. Whatever method you choose, it should be easy to use and secure so that only eligible union members can vote.

It's also a good idea to review your union's bylaws during this step. You want to make sure that the election process follows all of the rules and regulations set by the union.

  1. Creating a Budget

The next step is to create a budget for the election. This will include the cost of securing a location, printing ballots, and hiring poll workers. 

Here, it's important to know that union funds can only be used for necessary election costs—it's illegal to use them to promote particular candidates or to pay for unrelated expenses.

It's also important to prepare for additional expenses that may come up during the election. For example, if you're running an online election, you may need to purchase software or hire a tech team to help with the process.

  1. Inviting Nominations

Once you have the practicalities and budget in place, it's time to start inviting nominees. This is usually done through a call for nominations, whereby union members can put forward their candidacy. 

Ideally, you should send out the call for nominations at least seven weeks before the election to give members enough time to consider the candidates.

You will need to decide if there will be any restrictions on who can become a candidate. This could include setting a minimum age, a tenure requirement, or requiring candidates to have certain skills or qualifications. Once again, reviewing your union's bylaws can help.

Once you've received all the nominations, you'll want to conduct a meeting to review all the candidates to make sure they meet the qualifications required for a position. After reviewing each candidate, you can determine who is eligible to be on the ballot and inform the members.

  1. Ensuring Fair Campaigning

Once the candidates have been notified, it's time to start campaigning. It's important to make sure that everyone is given equal and fair access to campaign. This includes ensuring that all candidates have the same resources, such as union materials and office space. It's also important to set limits on how much money candidates can spend on their campaigns, and stipulate that all campaigning be conducted in a respectful manner.

Unfortunately, you'll have to excuse yourself from this step as the union's election coordinator. As a neutral party, you should abstain from campaigning for any particular candidate and ensure that everyone is treated fairly.

  1. Conducting the Poll

Once the campaigning is taken care of, it's time to conduct the poll. This will depend on the voting method you chose in the first step, but you should always ensure that only eligible voters can access and use it.

For example, in-person voting should take place in a secure space with designated poll workers to help ensure the legitimacy of the election. Online voting should be conducted through a secure platform like ElectionBuddy.

  1. Tabulating the Results

In the final step, you'll need to tabulate the results and announce who has won the election. Once again, security should be a high priority. Ideally, a third party should be brought in to verify the results and confirm that the election has been conducted fairly.

Once all of these steps have been completed, the results can be announced and the newly elected union officials can begin their roles.

Union Elections Simplified

Organizing a union election is no small task, but it's important to ensure that the process runs smoothly and fairly. For more useful information, check out our post on how a union wins a workplace election.

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