If you are a member of your union's election committee or executive board, you may find yourself faced with the responsibility to review and decide the merits of protests filed by union members over the conduct of your union's officer election. The rules for filing an election protest are normally found in your local or international constitution and bylaws. The first thing you should do is check the duties of your elected or appointed position to see what, if any, responsibilities for dealing with election protests are in your job description.
Secondly, read the portions of your constitution and bylaws that pertain to election protests. Some have specific procedures for filing an election protest. Other unions choose to treat election protests under the general protest and appeals procedures of their governing documents. Make sure that you know which approach your union takes and how you fit into the process. If you are not sure, check with officers of your local union or an international union representative.
One of the first steps in evaluating an election protest is to determine if it has been properly filed. If the protest is procedurally deficient, be sure to let the member who has filed the complaint know what must be done to make it acceptable. If the member has failed to meet time requirements or other required steps, do not rule on the merits of the protest. Wait until you receive a protest that meets the requirements of your constitution and bylaws before responding on the merits of the issues raised.
Evaluating an election protest is an important responsibility. If the election was flawed to the point that the outcome might have been different, you must act to ensure a democratic election. On the other hand, it would be unwise to incur the expense of a new election if there were no election violations that could have affected the outcome of the election. A thorough investigation of the alleged violations is required. That topic deserves its own discussion.
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