After the 2019 BTU officer election, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Executive Council investigated the election and campaign practices and issued the following statement: “The council strongly recommends that the BTU consider implementing reasonable campaigning rules that permit greater access to the voters by all candidates and that facilitates member participation in elections to the greatest extent possible.” The council also stated that “we do recommend that BTU consider amending its constitution to allow any member to request an absentee ballot or to allow for secret mail-ballot elections, to maximize participation by BTU members in internal elections.”
In light of these recommendations, BTU is seeking membership’s feedback on potential steps forward. With hopes of maximizing BTU member access in the 2022 officer elections we are considering a variety of options, each with different benefits and costs.
To comply with the AFT constitution and federal law, all election processes must follow the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, which establishes election standards that ensure secret ballots. 100% mail-in elections are the norm in many education unions, including some of the largest, such at New York City’s United Federation of Teachers, the Washington Teachers Union, and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. To see how mail-in ballots work, read the link below. While the Department of Labor has some suggestions for electronic ballots, the veracity of telephonic or online elections hasn’t been concretely established, leaving room that elections using these methods could be challenged by the National Labor Relations Board. With that in mind, we are seeking feedback on different in-person and mail-in options.
The BTU has a history of in-person voting, and this is the costliest type of election to run since we must secure a vendor to run the election at each site. Estimates for a single location with 8 hours of voting are in the ballpark of $12,500* and these prices could rise in the future. BTU elections often have at least 12 hours of voting, and these costs tend to increase exponentially due to overtime considerations (election vendors typically travel from out of town). In the past election, BTU had six locations, and using current prices the cost for this election format is estimated to be most likely well over $100,000, perhaps significantly so.
A 100% universal mail-in format would cost the BTU an estimated $35,000. A hybrid model of mail-in and in-person could cost an additional $60,000 or much more, depending on how many in-person locations were offered. This option is possible because election vendors have methods to ensure members only cast one ballot in the case that a member votes via mail and attempts to vote in-person (the member can either be turned away from voting in-person or their unopened mail ballots can be destroyed prior to voting).
Another option is to proceed with six locations and allow no fault mail-in absentee ballots available upon request (meaning that any member can gain access to a mail-in ballot without having to supply a reason, but they must take the active step of requesting one). This would only provide a member access to a mail-in ballot if they take the proactive step to request one by a given date prior to the election. The BTU would incur the higher cost of the hybrid all-in-person election and mail-in ballots while adding an additional operational cost of administering the absentee ballot request process.
*All price estimates come from the American Arbitration Association, a reputable, large organization that provides election services to some of the largest unions in the United States, including New York City's United Federation of Teachers, United Teachers of Los Angeles, Chicago Teachers Union, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, Washington Teachers Union, and many more.
AFT Report: http://www.baltimoreteachers.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/BTU-Investigation-Report-7-9-19-FINAL.pdf?link_id=0&can_id=1c89ee17b133ea764b54ada90a38518c&source=email-results-of-afts-investigation-into-btu-internal-elections&email_referrer=email_578446&email_subject=results-of-afts-investigation-into-btu-internal-elections
The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/olms/compliance-assistance/fact-sheet/lmrda
Department of Labor on secret mail-in ballots: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/olms/compliance-assistance/elections/mail
American Arbitration Association Election Services: https://www.adr.org/ElectionServices