A significant reform adopted February 5 is expected to broaden ballot access and increase voter participation in American Maritime Officers elections and membership referenda.
Under a resolution approved by AMO members during the regularly scheduled membership meeting at AMO headquarters in Dania Beach, the voting period in AMO elections was expanded from 90 days to 120 days, beginning with this year's AMO election of officers.
The resolution, which had been approved unanimously by the AMO National Executive Board during its meeting at headquarters January 24, amended Article XI, Section 3(g) of the AMO National Constitution to move the ballot mailing date from September 1 to August 1. The independent True Ballot, Inc. and an elected AMO rank and file tallying committee will count the ballots during the regularly scheduled AMO membership meeting in December in keeping with current practice.
The resolution amended additional election procedures specified in the AMO National Constitution to conform to the longer balloting period.
The intent is to make it easier for all deep-sea, Great Lakes and inland waters AMO members to receive ballots and vote as they wish in free, fair and open elections that keep faith with democratic principles.
The amendments embodied in the resolution were inspired by traditionally low voter participation in the union's elections - a chronic problem traced in many cases to AMO members at work aboard vessels receiving their ballots too late to complete and return to the designated ballot depository for counting in December.
In the 2014 AMO election of officers - in which only two official positions were contested - 3019 potentially valid ballots were mailed to AMO members at their home addresses on record at headquarters, but only 922 ballots were counted in one race and 921 were tabulated in the second challenged position.
Under the amendment to Article XI, Section 3(g) of the AMO National Constitution, the balloting period is lengthened at the front end so that we can meet the required installation of elected officers on January 1, 2019. As a result, the entire election timetable advances by 30 days - for example, candidates for office now have from the May membership meeting until the June membership meeting to file their nominations, instead of from the June membership meeting to the July membership meeting.
All AMO members are urged to confirm their current home addresses with headquarters or to provide alternative addresses if they would prefer that their ballots be mailed elsewhere. The union will issue frequent reminders throughout the election timetable.
In a related development, the AMO National Executive Board and AMO members participating in the February 5 headquarters membership meeting approved a second amendment to the AMO National Constitution. This separate resolution repealed Article X, Section 1(d), which imposed a potentially discriminatory age restriction on otherwise qualified candidates for elective office in AMO.
2018 RESOLUTION NO. 1 OF THE AMERICAN MARITIME OFFICERS NATIONAL EXECUTIVE BOARD
AGE LIMIT AMENDMENT
WHEREAS, amendments to the AMO National Constitution were adopted through a union-wide referendum that ended in March 2009, and
WHEREAS, one such amendment added an age restriction to nominees standing for elective office, and
WHEREAS, this specific amendment modified Article X, Section 1, Qualifications for National Offices by adding paragraph (d), which reads: "No member may be a nominee for elective office after reaching age 70," and
WHEREAS, counsel has advised that this specific amendment may violate current U.S. Department of Labor regulations and may provide cause for the U.S. Department of Labor to seek to overturn the results of any AMO election of officers.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that, pursuant to its authority under Article XXV of the AMO National Constitution, the National Executive Board of American Maritime Officers hereby proposes repeal of Article X Section 1(d), pending approval by the AMO membership at the next regularly scheduled AMO membership meeting at AMO headquarters.
Approved by the AMO National Executive Board on January 23, 2018.
2018 RESOLUTION NO. 2 OF THE AMERICAN MARITIME OFFICERS NATIONAL EXECUTIVE BOARD
WHEREAS, the National Executive Board has, in connection with the 2018 National Election of Officers, considered how to increase voter participation among the AMO membership, and
WHEREAS, the National Executive Board recognizes that the AMO membership often receives shipboard assignments in excess of one hundred (100) days, and
WHEREAS, the National Executive Board wishes to amend the AMO National Constitution in order to lengthen the balloting period for the 2018 National Election of Officers from ninety (90) days to one hundred twenty (120) days,
NOW, THEREFORE, pursuant to its authority under Article XXV of the AMO National Constitution, the National Executive Board proposes the following amendments to the AMO National Constitution:
Article VIII, Section 1(f) shall now read in the first sentence: "At the regular April membership meeting of every election year, the National President shall submit to the membership a pre-balloting report."
Article XI, Section 1(c) shall now read: "The nominating letter must reach National Headquarters no earlier than the commencement of the May National Headquarters regular membership meeting and no later than the commencement of the June National Headquarters membership meeting of the election year."
Article XI, Section 2(a) shall now read: "A Credentials Committee consisting of five (5) members and two (2) alternates, members in good standing, who are in attendance shall be elected at the regular June membership meeting."
Article XI, Section 3(a) (i) shall now read in the first sentence: "The National President, subject to the approval of the National Executive Board shall, not later than June 1st of each election year, designate an independent mailing and balloting service to administer the election."
Article XI, Section 3(g) shall now read in the first sentence: "All members shall be mailed ballots on August 1st of the election year, unless August 1st falls on a Saturday or Sunday, then the ballots will be mailed on the previous Friday; the ballots are to be returned as provided in subparagraph (h) herein."
Approved by the AMO National Executive Board on January 24, 2018.