From the President
Focusing on APA's Election: It's Your Responsibility to Vote
Psychiatric News
Volume 41 Number 23 page 3-3

Very soon thousands of ballots will be mailed to all APA members eligible to vote in APA's 2007 election. I hope that all voting members will take advantage of this opportunity and exercise their right to vote for the candidates of their choice. Participating in this democratic ritual is a right whose importance and relevance are realized only when it is lost.

In recent years, a large number of APA members have not cast their ballots and in so doing have not helped elect their preferred candidates. There may be many reasons why many members do not vote in the APA elections. For instance, they may not be familiar with the candidates, they might be too busy and thus miss the deadline for voting, or they may feel disinterested about who will run our organization.

But the time for excuses is past: our patients and the profession of psychiatry are facing a host of critical problems that need to be addressed and resolved. For instance, about 46 million Americans do not have any type of medical insurance coverage, and many other millions are underinsured; thousands of mentally ill persons are homeless or are unnecessarily incarcerated in jails and prisons; psychologists have been given the authority to prescribe psychotropic medications in two states, thus endangering the lives of mentally ill patients; the image of our profession has been devalued; and psychiatrists are often unable to provide psychotherapy services to the mentally ill patients who need this type of treatment.

Our elected APA officers, including me, who want to work hard in redressing these problems and setbacks need to have the authority and confidence delegated by you—the APA membership—through your votes. In the year in which I was elected president, I secured about 74 percent of the votes of approximately 11,000 APA members. This was an excellent demonstration of support and confidence in me and has permitted me to move forward with the initiatives and plans that I promised during my presidential campaign. I am grateful for that support; however, if I had secured 74 percent of the votes of all eligible voting members (about 22,000), I assure you that I would be able to accomplish even more.

It is imperative that the APA officers and trustees who are charged with steering the course of APA's future and determining its goals, initiatives, and policies have a clear mandate from you, so that we can be sure that we are representing you well. You can make a difference. And if you do not like any of the candidates running for office, I encourage you to become involved and run for office yourself.

I care about you and all APA members. And I care about APA as well as our profession and the patients we treat. This is why I have spent many years being active in APA and running for office. If you think what I am saying or doing as your APA president has some merit to you, please vote in this year's election.

The first step is to turn to page 33 and read the information on the 14 candidates running for office in APA's 2007 election. Then look for your ballot in the mail in late December. Members with e-mail addresses on file with APA will receive an e-mail on December 22 with instructions on how to vote online. Voting couldn't be easier—no excuses!

Currently, the percentage of APA voting members who have voted in recent elections is about 31 percent to 34 percent. For the 2007 election, let's aim for a total of at least 40 percent of our voting members—that is, about 12,600—to cast their ballots. Let's make this our goal. I need it, you need it, but our profession and our patients need it even more. ▪

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