Association News
 DOI: 10.1176/appi.pn.2013.10b10
APA Election Guidelines for Candidates and Supporters
Psychiatric News
Volume 48 Number 20 page 1-1


Based on those approved as amended by the Board of Trustees – July 2013

Abstract Teaser

The intent of the guidelines is to encourage fair and open campaigning by APA members on a level playing field by (1) specifying permitted and prohibited election-related activities, (2) fostering opportunities for candidates to educate their colleagues about the issues, (3) informing voters about candidate experiences and views, (4) keeping costs down, and (5) maintaining dignified and courteous conduct appropriate to the image of a profession.

Each candidate receives a copy of these guidelines and a statement to sign, certifying that he/she has read the guidelines, promises to abide by them, will immediately report any deviations of which he/she becomes aware to the Elections Committee, and will notify and try to correct any supporter upon learning of an actual or potential deviation. Candidates are to inform members they ask for support about the guidelines by sending a copy or calling attention to the guidelines on the APA Web site.

All APA members are expected to abide by the APA election guidelines in APA elections, including in their capacity as officers and members of other organizations. APA requests that other organizations adhere to the intent of the campaign guidelines and provide fair and equitable coverage of opposing candidates.

When candidates or their supporters are unclear about whether an intended campaign action is permitted, they should seek the opinion of the Elections Committee before taking action. The Elections Committee will respond with a ruling concerning the proper interpretation of the guidelines and inform all candidates in order to maintain a “level playing field.”

The Elections Committee investigates any potential violation by a candidate or supporter of which it becomes aware and reports violations to the Board of Trustees. The procedures used by the Elections Committee to investigate and report campaign violations are in Chapter 2 of the APA Operations Manual and will be sent to candidates with these Election Guidelines.


Campaigning is defined as any attempt to influence a potential voter’s vote. Campaigning includes mentioning one’s candidacy or making any statement that might be interpreted as a position statement reflecting what actions the candidate would take if elected. It does not include appearances made as part of one’s normal work activities.


  • Candidates are to state their own positions on issues and their own plans for the Association directly and positively.

  • Candidates/supporters may not make personal attacks against other candidates.

  • When “signing” campaign communications, APA/Area/DB organizational titles may not be used, but such titles may be mentioned in the body of the communication.


  • Candidates and supporters may communicate with each other and coordinate campaign activities. However, formal campaign committees (entities that can make statements or take other actions on behalf of the candidate) are not allowed, and candidates may not enter into agreements to campaign together.

  • Fundraising is not permitted. A goal of these guidelines is to limit campaign activities to a level that all candidates can easily afford.

  • Use of APA, Area Council/State Association, or District Branch resources or personnel is generally prohibited, except to support the election process, including communication of candidate statements to members.

  • APA, Area Council/state association, or district branch funds, services, stationery, or staff may not be used to endorse, support or promote any candidate; however, Area Council/state association, or district branch funds—not APA funds—may be used to support the expenses of candidates invited to the branch/area meeting for election purposes.


Permitted forms of campaigning include the following; all others are prohibited.

a. Electronic Messages (E-mail, SMS, etc.)
There are no limits on the number of campaign messages sent electronically. However, candidates and supporters are advised to use restraint with electronic messages of all kinds, as these are often ill-received by voters, especially if voters perceive that they are being spammed. Beginning e-mail messages with the conventional “APA Campaigning” in the subject line is a courtesy that can help recipients to quickly sort out campaign e-mail messages. Obtaining e-mail addresses is the responsibility of the candidates and their supporters; they are not to be provided by APA, Area Councils/state associations, or district branches.

b. List servers (Listservs)

  • Candidates may create their own list servers to facilitate communication with and among their supporters.

  • The APA Member-to-Member list server may be used for campaigning, but no other list servers used for APA, Area Council/state association, or district branch functions.

  • List servers of other psychiatric organizations may be used for campaigning if permitted by those organizations.

c. Social Networking Sites, Blogs, and Homepages (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
Candidates may use social networking sites, blogs, and homepages for campaign purposes.

d. APA Web site
APA will include information on candidates (with links to candidates’) homepages and on the election itself (campaign guidelines, ballot mailing, and return dates, etc.) on its Web site. This election information can be accessed through the election logo and linked to other information as appropriate.

e. Candidate Homepage
Each candidate is responsible for setting up and financing his/her own homepage. There will be a disclaimer on APA’s Web site stating that candidates’ homepages are their own creation and responsibility and that APA takes no responsibility for information posted on them. APA reserves the right to cut the link between its Web site and a candidate’s homepage if a candidate violates the campaign guidelines.

f. Phone
Campaign-related phone calls (including calls made through services such as Skype) may be made by candidates/supporters to individual APA members. Use of automatic calling services (robocalls) or hiring personnel to make such calls is prohibited.

g. Letters and Handouts
There are no restrictions on number of campaign letters, postcards, faxes, or handouts.

h. Private Discussion
Spontaneous private election-related communication with colleagues is permitted.

i. Invited Position Statements
Psychiatric organizations may request written position statements or answers to questions for publication in a newsletter or other written medium. Such publication requires that no candidate is endorsed or favored and that all candidates for a given office have been given equal opportunity to respond.

j. Area/State/District Branch Campaigning: Newsletters
Area Council/state association, or district branch newsletters may announce as news items of up to 150 words per candidate the candidacy for national office or Area Trustee of member(s) of that Area Council/state association, or district branch, with pictures. Editorial endorsement of candidates is prohibited, as are letters to the editor in support of (or opposition to) candidates. Newsletters may print other statements or materials by or about a candidate only if they give equal opportunity to opposing candidates. Newsletters may not be distributed beyond the usual newsletter distribution.

k. Mutual Campaign Presentations
A mutual campaign presentation is defined as an event at which all candidates for an APA office appear together to acquaint voters with the candidates and/or to discuss campaign issues. Candidates may appear in person or through electronic media.

  • If all candidates have been given equal opportunity to attend and one cannot attend, the other candidate(s) may present.

  • Endorsement or favoritism of any candidate is prohibited.

l. Introduction at Professional Presentations
A candidate’s candidacy may be mentioned when the candidate is introduced for the purpose of giving a professional presentation, provided that the candidate is not endorsed.


There are no restrictions on professional presentations, defined as events at which no campaigning occurs and a candidate participates in the dissemination of information through any medium. Running for office should not inhibit or prohibit candidates from conducting their usual professional business. ■

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