Post Elections – The story behind the ballot

Post Elections are held at our May General Membership meeting.  Elections are the most important event for the post.  It is when we gather together and select our new leaders.  Leadership selection is not a reward.  Post Leadership is an immense task and a post needs talented men and women to guide the post through a year that includes a significant number of events that require a lot of work to make it a success.  The American Legion Officer Guide and Manual of Ceremonies contains the step-by-step process and the rationale behind the process.  Have you taken a look?  If not or if you need a link, click here.   Go to page 7 for information on the duties of each officer.  Go to page 102 for Nominations and Elections.  

Here is the process in a nutshell.  Each year in January a team of four officers is appointed by the PEC to consider candidates for office in the upcoming post year.  The Post Year is July – June.  (Post Dues are also due for renewal starting on 1 July each year.)

Current officers are individually contacted and asked about their plans for the coming year.  The Committee asks, “Do they want to hold their position or switch to another role?”  Some existing officers may decide to step down from an officer role.  The Nominating Committee then confers and tries to determine who the best candidates for the new year.  They also look outside of the Post Executive Committee for candidates.  They look for candidates with the experience and leadership potential for service as an officer.  As you can see, the Committee has a lot of work to do.  

The next step is critical.  Their charge is to recommend the best of the best to lead the Post in the upcoming year.  The Nominating Committee recommends one candidate for each position.  They consider all recommendations that have come forward and the results of their research.  The process is similar to that of military boards for promotion selection.  A majority vote is required for each position.  Age and length of time as a member are not considered.  

The Committee’s  completed report is known as Slate of Officers.  Now, their report recommendations are “what they consider as the best-qualified person” for service in each office.  Their report is presented in April.  It is theirs alone and it can not be acted on in the PEC.  The PEC can not add to or remove members from the Slate of Officers.  

At the April General Membership Meeting, the Nominating Committe’s Slate of Officers is presented to the general membership.  The Chair announces the Slate of Officers and advises the membership that the report was received by the PEC and is now presented.  It is at this time that additional names may be nominated for a position.  This is done by the Chair announcing a position listed on the Slate of Officers.  The Chair then asks, “Are there any other nominations from the floor.”  This is not the time to throw a name out without thoughtfulness.  Nominations from the floor do not have to be seconded, but the nominated member should be present to affirm that they accept or decline the nomination and that they will serve, if elected.  After the Chair announces, “Are there any other nominations from the floor” the Chair pauses for a period and, if there is no response, the Chair repeats the call for further nominations a second time.  And, as before there is a pause, and a third announcement.  After making the call for further candidates three times, and hearing no response, the Chair announces, “Having heard no further nominations, the nomination for ( ______________) are closed and then strikes the gavel once.  This process is repeated for all Post Officer Positions.  Once the nominations call results in a gavel action, nominations can not be reopened unless a motion is made and passed by a majority vote.  On election day, no nominations are authorized from the floor.

The Slate of Officers and persons nominated from the floor are combined to form the Post Official Election Ballot.    Write-in votes may be made to the official ballot on election day.   A simple majority of the cast votes determine the winning candidate.

As you can see, there is a lot of effort that goes into just preparing for an election.  The actual Post Elections process is a significant event in itself.  If you have the leadership and management skills to help our post grow, you are encouraged to get involved with PEC members and our many committees.  Here, leaders are developed.  They learn parts of the puzzle that is known as “Post Operations and Procedures.”  There are rules of the American Legion, state and federal laws governing non-profit charities (that is an IRS 501(c)(19) Veterans Organization).

Election Day – May 14, 2024  5:30 pm to 7 pm
Election day is also the Post’s Annual Member Meeting. It is a special night that includes a meal. The only business normally conducted is the election.


Election Procedure

The Election Committee (Nominating Committee members) and Sergeants-at-Arms will prepare a voting area (Post Executive Conference Room) for voting. The area outside the voting area will have a table with two officials at the entrance. They will have a current Post 6 Membership Roster provided by National reporting all 2024 paid members and Paid Up For Life Members. The procedure:
1. Elections begin at 5:30 p.m. and close at 7 p.m. One member, one ballot. A member must be present to vote.
2. Members present their American Legion 2024 Membership Card or other form of identification. A physical membership card is not required. If a member lost, forgot, or has not yet received their card, they may still vote. The American Legion National Membership Roster for Post 6 is the only official verification of member-paid status for the American Legion, Post No. 6, Chapel Hill. The Committee is checking not only paid status, but membership at Post No. 6.
3. The Committee compares the members’ information to the National Roster.
a. If the member is current, the roster is marked to show member is present. They then move to the second committee member.
b. Member signs voting roster at position two. Committee staff provides members with a validated ballot. Ballots have no member identification.
c. Members move to the voting room and complete their ballot by selecting one person for each position. For Sergeants-at-Arms, select up to six nominees.
d. When the ballot is complete, place it in the ballot box and proceed to the Post Lounge or dining area.
4. Election closes at 7 p.m. All blank ballots and rosters are removed from the table. A count of members given ballots is made and recorded.
5. The Election Committee retires to the conference room and counts all ballots, verifies the vote count, and creates a report. Promptness and care are essential.
a. All completed ballots are placed in a large brown envelope and sealed. (Ballot Counters sign over the sealed edge for presentation to the Post Adjutant.)
b. Placing the final ballot count report with the selectees listed in a separate envelope, the results are given to the Election Committee Chair. All team members are cautioned not to disclose or imply knowledge of ballot results.
6. Election Report. The Election Committee withholds the election results until the beginning of the post meeting. The Chairman presents the Election Report and original ballots sealed in a brown envelope containing official ballots to the Post Adjutant. The report of the Election Committee It is usually the first order of business after opening ceremonials.

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