With the announcement of the Nominating Committee's selection of
candidates for the 2009 election (Psychiatric News, October 3), the
campaign season is under way, and members may want to familiarize themselves
with the campaign guidelines.
The APA Elections Committee is charged with establishing procedures, with
the approval of the Board of Trustees, for equitable voting of the membership.
These procedures are documented in the election guidelines section of the
Guidelines prescribing members' election-related activities were
established by the Board in the early 1970s, when APA began having contested
elections. Campaigning restrictions were adopted initially to address four
major concerns: (1) to guard against massive campaign efforts"
buying" an election win, particularly if those efforts were
financed by resources from outside the membership, (2) the revulsion against
campaign committees and unwelcome bids for public support, (3) the growing
distress of the membership at being deluged with campaign materials, and (4) a
belief among some members that large-scale campaigning was inconsistent with
their conception of APA's professional image. The concerns are as valid
today as they were in the '70s, and the guidelines continue to address
The intent of the guidelines is "to encourage fair and open
campaigning by APA members on a level playing field, foster opportunities for
candidates to educate their colleagues about the issues and about their
experiences and views, keep costs down, and maintain dignified and courteous
conduct appropriate to the image of a profession." Personal attacks
against opponents are not permitted.
Most important is the stipulation that candidates and their supporters must
use their own resources for election activities (A.1 below). Use of APA, Area
Council/state association, or district branch resources or personnel is
prohibited. The limits on the number of letters that each person may write
(400 letters or 100 for Area office) make it manageable for any member wishing
to support a candidate (see section C.1 below).
The guidelines for use of electronic media should be noted carefully. While
there is no limit on the number of campaign messages that may be sent by
e-mail (B.1, first paragraph), members supporting candidates in this way must
begin the subject line with the words "APA Campaigning."
The only APA-supported list serve that may be used for campaigning is
Member-to-Member (B.1, third paragraph). District branch and Area list serves
may not be used. List serves of other psychiatric organizations may be used
for campaigning only if permitted by those organizations. A guideline approved
in March 2006 allows candidates to create their own list serves to facilitate
communication with and among their supporters.
APA's Web site will once again contain information about candidates,
with links to the homepages of candidates who have Web sites.
The Elections Committee recognizes that there always will be problems in
implementing the guidelines and in creating guidelines that are inherently
equitable. However, over time members have indicated their satisfaction with
the current guidelines, believing that the guidelines have achieved the
objectives for which they were designed. The committee investigates any
possible violation of which it becomes aware and reports violations to the
Board (D.3). The committee is open to suggestions from members on how to
improve or change the guidelines.
The Elections Committee encourages members to get involved in the election
process and to support the candidates of their choice by writing personal
letters or e-mails or by personal contact.
Ballots for the 2009 election will be mailed December 22, and voting
members with email addresses on file with APA will receive an e-mail with
instructions for voting online. Election information will be included in the
December 5 issue of Psychiatric News. ▪