National Judge Advocate - Special Message

My fellow Sons,

I am sure by now you are all as sick as I am over the Coronavirus and the phrase “out of an abundance of caution”.  That being said, many states have shut down all food service and drinking establishments and with them most of the Posts.

Obviously, at this time of year, that is going to impact the Sons, in particular with the nomination and election process.  As you know, when the CBLs were written, no one could anticipate a global pandemic and how that would impact our meetings.

Firstly, because of this, I cannot give any definitive answers, each Squadron, State District, and Department will need to work out how best to move forward while staying within the bounds of the CBL as possible.  The one thing I would advise is to not break the law just to satisfy the SOA Constitution.

As of right now, all guidelines I am aware of across the country expire by April 17th, so at this time we anticipate no issue with the Squadron Annual Meetings or Conventions.

Some options:

  1. The only timeframe in the CBL for Nominations is for State Districts which require them in April.  Squadrons can choose to not hold a first round of nominations a month prior and instead hold Nominations in May with elections.  Ohio’s Districts may have no choice but to hold nominations and elections together at their annual meetings.
  2. If your Post has not reopened, but larger groups are allowed to come together again, you can call for a special meeting at a different time and/or place from your normal meeting for Nominations and/or elections. 
  3. According to Roberts Rules:  A Special Meeting is a separate session held at a time different from that of any regular meeting and convened only to consider one or more items of business specified in the call of the meeting. Notice of the time, place, and exact purpose of the meeting must be mailed to all members within a reasonable number of days in advance. The reason for special meetings is to deal with important matters that may arise between regular meetings and that urgently require action by the society before the next regular meeting.
  4. If the quarantines are extended and you need to hold your elections to stay within the election guidelines of the CBL, then you can consider holding an election by mail.  This is not ideal, but will allow your organization to continue to operate.  For a vote by mail (From Robert’s Rules):
    1. If the vote is not secret: a printed ballot containing a space for the voter’s signature, a specifically recognized, self-addressed stamped envelope with the name and address of the secretary (or person who will count the ballots). If the qualifications of the nominee may not be widely known to the membership, it is permitted to allow each nominee to furnish a brief factual statement of her services and qualifications, provided that all nominees are accorded equal opportunity and space. Electronic mail and other means of electronic communities can be tailored to comply with these requirements.
    2. If the vote is to be secret: an inner return envelope with space for the voters’ signature placed on its face instead of the ballot should be sent to the voter with the ballot, in addition to the self-addressed outer return envelope described above. The ballot sent to the voter should be pre-folded a sufficient number of times so that when returned marked and refolded in the same manner and sealed in the inner envelope-there will be no chance of accidental observance of the member’s vote by the teller who removes the ballot from the inner envelope. In other words, you are sending back an envelope with your ballot and a signature page inside another envelope to the person collecting the ballots.

I hope all of this has been helpful.  We are all treading in unknown waters with this and as long as we all use common sense, we should make it through this without issue.

David Spencer
Judge Advocate
Sons of AMVETS
National Department