Guidelines on Campaign and Communications

Preface

As befits a society of scientific professionals, American Chemical Society (ACS) elections should be conducted in an ethical and fair manner. It is the responsibility of ACS governance, and in particular, the Committee on Nominations and Elections, to provide all members running for office with an opportunity to campaign on an equal basis.

When informing the ACS membership of their position with respect to the Society, its future, and its policies, candidates and their supporters are strongly urged to follow the campaign practices outlined in the document on Campaigning and Communication. It should be noted that campaign activities are limited to candidates only. Nominees (i.e. members whose names appear on ballots from which councilors select final candidates) are expected to refrain from active campaigning.

The purpose of this document is to concisely state key requirements of fair and appropriate ACS campaign practices. Additional information is given in “Manner of Election Procedures”, see Article X, and Bylaw V, in the ACS Constitution and Bylaws.

Purpose and Scope

The purpose of the ACS Campaign and Communications Guidelines is to assure that:

  • All candidates are treated fairly and equally
  • All parties understand appropriate campaign activities and required actions
  • Members have sufficient information to make informed choices in elections
  • ACS elections are conducted in a manner befitting a professional society

These guidelines apply to elections for the ACS presidential succession and elections for members of the ACS Board of Directors, and describe appropriate activities for:

  • Candidates (i.e. members whose names appear on the final election ballot)
  • Persons acting on behalf of nominees and candidates
  • Members of the ACS Committee on Nominations and Elections
  • Persons in the ACS Presidential succession
  • Members of the ACS Board of Directors
  • ACS staff

Finances

The following guidelines and requirements apply to funds and/or other contributions in support of or in opposition to a candidate:

  • No funds of the Society, including of its Local Sections or Divisions, shall be used to support or oppose the election of a candidate except to cover the routine travel expenses required for the fulfillment of their governance responsibilities at ACS national meetings if applicable (e.g., Councilors, Division/Local Section Officers, Board members, etc.) (See Bylaw 5, Section 13(a), in the ACS Bylaws)
  • In-kind contributions such as office space and supplies from ACS, its Local Sections or Divisions are restricted (See Bylaw 5, Sections 13(a), (b), and (c), in the ACS Bylaws)
  • All expenses incurred in the creation, production and distribution of a web site and materials or literature to be used for promotion by the candidate shall be borne personally by the candidate. The ACS logo may not be used on any materials used for campaign purposes, including the candidates’ websites.
  • Although the Bylaws of the Society are silent with regard to other sources of financial support, the use of private funds provided by the candidate or his/her friends should be prudently limited. Solicitation of campaign funds by a candidate or his/her supporters is strongly discouraged.

Candidates Activities

Procedures stated in ACS Bylaw V, Section 13 apply, specifically:

  • Equivalent consideration in Society publications shall be given to all candidates. Paid advertisements at commercial rates are exempt from this space restriction.
  • Local Sections and Divisions requesting candidates’ Position Statements shall make such requests to the Secretary of the Society at ACS Headquarters to ensure that all candidates are concurrently informed of the request.
  • The mailing of campaign materials other than those sent by the Society, including mass e-mails, is considered supplementary and is strongly discouraged, as many members consider this type of activity bothersome. Membership lists for a select group of ACS members are available for a nominal fee from the Executive Director of the Society. Candidates must abide by the ACS usage restrictions associated with the release of membership lists.
  • Candidates shall not make campaign statements at any ACS Regional meeting, Councilors Caucus, Division business meeting or Local Section meeting without the other candidates for that office being invited to be present and accorded equal time to speak.

Campaigning by Incumbents

Incumbents – those who hold office as an ACS Board member, as a member of the Presidential Succession, as chair of an ACS Board or Council committee − face particular challenges in balancing their official duties with the duty to campaign fairly. Appearances and oral or written remarks before the electorate, and coverage in ACS publications of their involvement in certain ACS activities or remarks/reports, often accompany the exercise of their official ACS duties. However, if abused, these functions and their resulting coverage could constitute an unfair campaign advantage. N&E has determined that it is permissible for a candidate who holds ACS office to engage in these activities, and for there to be references to the individual’s involvement in these activities in ACS publications, if:

  • the activity directly relates to the customary official duties of that particular incumbent and their involvement in it is an appropriate exercise of those duties
  • their involvement in the activity is not discretionary, i.e., a substitute could not effectively take their place in the activity
  • their involvement in the function is timely and could not reasonably be scheduled before or after the campaign period
  • they will neither make nor exhibit any reference to their candidacy or campaign views during the activity.

Campaigning at Regional Meetings

On occasion there is the question about the interaction of the Society nomination and election procedures and ACS regional meeting programming. Below are a number of scenarios for which it may be helpful for Nominations and Elections to provide some thoughts to help guide interested regional meeting organizing committees.

1. The regional meeting organizing committee would like to include in the meeting program book photos of key governance individuals (e.g. Board of Directors) expected to attend their regional meeting. There could be the case where one of those individuals is a candidate for re-election or election to another Society position.

2. The regional meeting organizing committee would like to hold a town meeting for Society candidates for national or district elected positions. Obviously there could be the case where a potential participant may be attending the regional meeting with the support of ACS and others could only attend at their own cost.

3. The regional meeting organizing committee would like to include information in the meeting program book and/or on meeting signage regarding upcoming Society elections and currently established candidates.

General Statement

Regional meetings play an important role in the Society. The presence of ACS leaders and candidates for national office at regional meetings is beneficial. Interactions between leaders and members, not likely to occur at national meetings, often occur at regional meetings. However, if safeguards are not put into place, the principles of fairness in ACS elections may be violated. Lack of fairness or its perception could negate any positive gain resulting from candidate exposure. In short, any consideration of activities should be based on principles of fairness and equal access to all candidates. 

There are many pitfalls in the dissemination of election information, however well intentioned those efforts are. Some regional meetings cannot be involved in election activities because they are held at times of the year when candidates are not known. Regional meetings and Districts are also not in geographical alignment. Procedures for information dissemination should be put in place to ensure consistency from year to year. For example, a candidate forum should not be planned only when a local leader is a candidate. Procedures should also include a check with ACS national offices to ensure that no valid candidate is omitted. 

Regional meeting leaders should be informed that there is often a fine line between the perception of advocacy and simply providing information. Regional meetings should be encouraged to err on the side of the perception of fairness.

1. Regional meetings should be familiar with and follow N&E guidelines and practices that restrict ACS entities from publishing photos of or comments from candidates in their agenda books or other materials. Similarly, there should be no reference to any such person as being a candidate for national office. 

2. Regional meetings should be discouraged from hosting candidate forums. However, should it be decided that the regional meeting will include a candidate forum; it should only be held in the event that all candidates agree to be present (emergency cancellations should not necessarily cancel the forum). It might be appropriate that some members of N&E be present and involved in the planning of such an event. They have the experience and knowledge of the potential problems that a changing regional meetings organizing committee may not have. 

  • This is an acceptable practice provided the organizing committee ensures that all candidates are included. A check with the ACS Secretary's office should be made for this purpose. In addition, if candidate statements are to be included, extra effort should be expended to encourage each candidate to submit a statement.

Process

The following process is to be adhered to by all candidates:

  • Candidates for President-Elect and the ACS Board of Directors, including certified petition candidates, may begin their election campaign no earlier than one month after the ACS Spring National Meeting. A petition candidate certified after this date may begin the campaign process once their petition has been certified by the ACS Executive Director.
  • One month after the ACS Spring National Meeting, candidates for ACS President-Elect and the ACS Board of Directors shall provide to the ACS Executive Director for posting on the ACS Website:
  • Petition candidates may supply the same information within two weeks of filing valid petition papers with the ACS Executive Director
  • Prior to the election, according to the timeline and format provided by the Office of the ACS Executive Director, candidates for ACS President-Elect and the ACS Board of Directors shall provide a photo, biography and candidate statement for publication in Chemical & Engineering News

Communication Guidelines

All candidates are requested to abide by the following guidelines with regard to communication to members during the election process:

  • ACS will communicate the candidates’ position statements and biographical information to the ACS membership by including those materials on the ACS Website, in Chemical & Engineering News, and in the ballot materials sent to Members
  • Candidates are urged to focus on their qualifications and/or address past or future ACS Position Statements, policies or actions in their own statements to the ACS membership
  • Candidates and their supporters are strongly discouraged from engaging in any activities that could be interpreted as negative campaign tactics

Endorsements

Endorsements of candidates by persons holding ACS positions of significant responsibility shall be considered a violation of the campaign guidelines. Such positions include:

  • The ACS Executive Director, Secretary, and Treasurer
  • Elected Officers of the Society (President, President-Elect and Immediate Past-President)
  • Members of the ACS Board of Directors
  • Members of the ACS Committee on Nominations and Elections (N&E)
  • And all other individuals having a similar status in the Society

The above mentioned shall not endorse, support or oppose candidates, nor shall they campaign on behalf of candidates for President-Elect, Director-at-Large or District Director.

Actions Resulting from Violation(s)

In the event that any of the guidelines contained in this document are violated, the following actions will take place:

  • Any violation(s) will be reported to the ACS Committee on Nominations and Elections (N&E) for review and discussion
  • Significant infractions that are verified by N&E shall be reported to the ACS electorate and/or submitted to the Council Policy Committee (CPC) for investigation

Additional Information

Any questions regarding the ACS Guidelines on Campaigning and Communication or the interpretation of these guidelines should be directed to the Office of the ACS Executive Director or to the Chair of the ACS Committee on Nominations and Elections.

Revised: August 2009