COVID-19 Nominations & Election Guidance

Nomination and Election Guidance
Local Union Officers and AFSCME International Convention Delegates

On April 14, 2020, President Saunders convened a special meeting of the AFSCME International Executive Board to address issues related to AFSCME officer and International Convention delegate elections during the COVID-19 pandemic. The International Executive Board confirmed its action to move the 2020 AFSCME Convention from Los Angeles, CA, to a virtual online convention, setting the dates of the Virtual Convention as Thursday, August 13, beginning at 2:00 p.m. Eastern and Friday, August 14, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern.

In order to maintain union democracy while following the social distancing protocol, the International Executive Board voted to suspend the provisions in the AFSCME Local Union Election Manual and Retiree Election Manual, which require an in-person nomination meeting for Convention delegates and for affiliate officers. The suspension will be in effect through August 31, 2020. Under these guidelines, all members must still be afforded the opportunity to nominate, be nominated and challenge the eligibility of candidates, and this may be done virtually. If membership size and regional social distancing requirements allow, local unions are still permitted to meet in person for nominations and/or elections.


The waiver enables local unions to mail one notice that includes the requirements for nominations and procedures for elections. The notice should clearly communicate how to submit nominations and use procedures that are available to all members. Nominations can be made by email or other documented or recorded methods that enable all members to participate. Once nominations are completed, the membership must be notified of the nominees as quickly as possible and in a manner that gives all members an opportunity to challenge a nominee’s eligibility before the voting begins, including before the ballots are prepared or mailed if a mail ballot is being used. The candidate list must be communicated to the membership in at least one of the following ways:

  • U.S. mail

  • Email

  • Posting at the worksite (if possible)

  • Answering machine message

  • Local union or other subordinate bodies’ websites


Given the current restrictions on meeting in person, local unions may have to conduct delegate and officer elections by mail ballot. This is generally permitted, unless the affiliate’s constitution specifically prohibits using a mail ballot for elections. The AFSCME Local Union Election Manual and Retiree Election Manual provide guidance on mail ballot elections and are available on the AFSCME website. An election committee is still required to be appointed.


As with any election, balloting is not necessary if only one person is nominated for an office.
The same holds true for AFSCME Convention delegates. For instance, if a local is entitled to three delegates and three members are nominated, elections are not necessary. Local unions will be notified of their delegate allotment in the virtual Convention Call, which will be mailed on May 15, 2020. The delegate entitlement formula is also in Article IV, Section 6 of the International Constitution.


If the local union’s constitution or bylaws specify that an officer is an automatic delegate to the International Convention by virtue of their elected office, that officer’s credential will count toward the local’s total delegate entitlement. It is a requirement that the officer was elected by a vote of the general membership.


Local unions are still bound by all timelines regarding notice of nominations and elections, listed in the International Constitution, as well as in the Local Union Election Manual and Retiree Election Manual. Please review carefully.

Delegate credentials must be postmarked no later than Friday, July 24, 2020. Credentials postmarked after that date will be considered irregular and will preclude the seating of delegates at the opening of the Virtual Convention.

If you have any questions concerning these guidelines, please contact the AFSCME Organizing and Field Services Department at 1-202-429-1260.