SEIU Local 503 is democratically governed by our members who elect their sub-local leaders, the Board of Directors, and delegates to General Council, the supreme governing body of our union. Every two years, we elect over 700 leaders. The member leaders of our Union make critical decisions in running our Union and advocating for better wages and benefits, a voice on the job, and to grow our Union. Running fair elections for our members is important to the democratic process. This guide is intended for SEIU 503 members as a guide to better understand the sub-local elections process and the rules under the Union’s Bylaws which govern sub-local elections.

There are substantial changes to sub-local elections this year in that most sub-locals will have the opportunity to vote electronically for the first time. Members can visit www.seiu503.org/WeAre503/ to identify whether their sub-local will be conducting a mail or electronic election and can learn more about elections throughout this guide.

Many SEIU Local 503 members are uncertain how to go about running for Local Representative positions for the first time. The following basic steps outlined are meant to assist members contemplating running for leadership roles in their sub-local. You will find more information in this guide.

Step 1. Identify the position you wish to run for and any applicable deadlines. You can find the list of positions up for election in your sub-local online at seiu503.org/weare503/. If you need more information to determine what position you would like to run for, your field organizer or other leaders in your sub-local can answer questions about the responsibilities of different positions.

Step 2. Submit your nomination form! If you have any difficulty with the online form, contact your field organizer or the Union at 1-844-503-SEIU (7348). Paper nomination forms are available on request. Once your nomination form is submitted, you will get emailed a link to submit a candidate statement and/or photo if you’d like to. Candidate statements and photos aren’t required but are a useful tool for your candidacy.

Step 3. Review your confirming email. You will receive a confirming email from the Union, usually within 1-2 business days of submission of the online nomination form. (Receipt of the confirming email may take longer after submission of a paper form.) If you do not receive a confirming email, contact your field organizer or resubmit the nomination form before the nomination closing deadline to ensure your form was received.

Step 4. Review the Candidate FAQs for detailed information on rules surrounding elections. 

Step 5. Review the campaigning sections of this guide for additional guidelines on campaigning. 

Please review the FAQ section for common questions and issues. If you have questions after reviewing this guide, please contact your field organizer or the Member Assistance Center at 1-844-503- SEIU (7348).


Flow chart showing union governing structures

The image shows a flow chart describing how members elect sublocal representatives, General Council delegates, bargaining delegates, and our Union’s Statewide Officers and Board of Directors, while members who contribute to CAPE elect members to the CAPE Board. Sublocal representative elections occur between January and April of even-numbered years, Board and Statewide officer elections occur between June and September of even-numbered years, and CAPE elections occur between August and October of odd-numbered years. Members can learn more by reviewing the Union’s Bylaws.



  • The Voice / Notice of Elections mailed to all members: December 2023
  • Nominations Open: 12/11/2023
    • Sub-local elections begin. Nomination forms will be posted online at seiu503.org when nominations open. Paper nomination forms will be available upon request to be mailed by contacting the Member Assistance Center.
  • Nominations Close: 1/26/2024
  • Eligibility to Run/Vote Deadline: 1/26/2024
    • You must be an eligible member under the Union’s Bylaws by the nomination close date to be eligible to run for elected positions or vote.
  • Nomination Acceptance Due: 1/29/2024 at 5:00 pm
    • Members who are nominated by another member must accept their nomination. If you have a personal email address on file with the union, you will be notified by email and you can accept the nomination via the link in the email. You can also accept your nomination through your field organizer or by contacting the Member Assistance Center. If you do not accept your nomination by deadline, your name will not be listed on the ballot. Nominations submitted for yourself are considered a self-nomination and are automatically accepted.
  • Ballots Mailed or Electronically Delivered: Different for each sublocal; find your local’s timeline at www.seiu503.org/WeAre503/
  • Ballots Due: Different for each sublocal; find your local’s timeline at seiu503.org/WeAre503/
  • Results Publication: Election results will be published online at org within 48 hours of the time the election results are certified.
    • Electronic hybrid election results will be finalized, including the counting of any mail ballots before delivery to elections committees and publication.
    • Mail only elections will be scheduled for ballot counts and will be published following certification by the elections committee.
    • Any tie breaking proceedings could extend the time before publication.
    • Most sub-locals should have results published within two to five business days.
  • Newly elected Local Representatives are installed: 5/1/2024
    • Individual sub-locals may hold meetings on varying dates for Local Representatives to be installed and give their oath of office.
  • Notice of Statewide Officer/Board of Directors (SWO/BOD) elections and nominations mailed: June 2024
  • General Council registration opens online: Early June. Will be emailed with a personalized registration link.
  • Board and Statewide Officer nominations open and campaign statement submissions may be submitted online: 6/24/2024
  • General Council Committee Chairs & Members appointed: June 2022
  • Board/Statewide Officer elections nominations close: 7/26/2024 at 5:00 pm
  • Board/Statewide Officer elections candidate statements due: 7/26/2024 at 5:00 pm
  • Pre-GC Board and Finance meetings / budget review and adoption/recommendation to General Council; CAPE Committee Meeting: TBD
  • General Council convenes at Hilton Downtown, Portland, OR: August 1-4, 2024
  • Board/SWO ballots/candidate statements mailed by Ryder Election Services: September 2024
  • Board/SWO ballots due by mail to Ryder Election Services: September 2024


A. Sub-local Bylaws

Each sub-local has its own bylaws adopted by its membership. If any section of a sub-local’s bylaws conflict with SEIU Local 503’s bylaws, SEIU Local 503’s bylaws prevail and override the conflicting section of the sub-local bylaws.

You may contact your field organizer to request a copy of your sub-local bylaws.

Some bylaws are signed by sub-local leaders and some are not; they are not required to be signed to be in effect. Sub-locals must file their bylaws with headquarters and have changes approved by the Rules Committee prior to a vote of the sub-local to amend their bylaws. The bylaws on file with headquarters will govern the sub-local’s election. Proposed amendments can be submitted to the Rules Committee via rulescommittee@seiu503.org. You may contact your field organizer to request a copy of your sub-local’s bylaws.

B. Elections Committees

The SEIU 503 Bylaws require that each sub-local President appoint an elections committee of three active members in that sub-local who are not nominees, or retiree members (Article XV, Section 6(d)). Elections committees are responsible for seeking candidates to run for positions in the sub-local, for approving the ballots, for counting ballots in elections not run by a vendor, and certifying and announcing election results. In electronic elections, elections committees will be directly emailed a test version of the electronic ballot for proofing before the election opens.

C. Ballot Types & Replacement Ballots

Electronic Voting

Members who have a personal email address on file will receive notification when voting opens with instructions to vote. All members will also receive a mailing with online voting instructions. If you do not receive an email with voting instructions, you should contact the Member Assistance Center at 1-844-503-SEIU (7348). Replacement ballots are only available through electronic voting (e.g., sending an invitation to a new email) and will not be available by mail.

Mail Only Elections

Mail only elections will be conducted using similar processes to past sub-local elections. Members will receive a mailed ballot, secrecy envelope, and return envelope, which must be returned by mail to the listed return address by the deadline for your ballot to be counted. Ballots cannot be hand delivered.

Replacement Ballots: An eligible member who does not receive or misplaces their ballot may request a replacement ballot. Replacement ballots shall be mailed to members promptly upon request until the day before ballots are due. You should contact the Member Assistance Center at 1-844-503-SEIU (7348).

D. Nominations

Nominations are encouraged to be submitted using the online form available at www.seiu503.org/WeAre503. Members may also contact the MAC or their organizer to request a paper form be sent to them. Paper nominations can be returned via email to elections@seiu503.org or by mailing them to a local office. Emailed paper nomination forms should be sent in a clear and legible format with all pages included. You may not submit nominations through any other method. Paper forms must be received by the nomination deadline.

E. Nomination Confirmations

Candidates nominated by another member must confirm their acceptance of the nomination by 1/29/2024 at 5:00 pm, to be included on the ballot. Candidates are encouraged to self-nominate. Ballots will not indicate whether a candidate was self-nominated or nominated by someone else and there is no advantage to being nominated by another member.

F. Candidate Statements and Photos

Candidate Statements

All candidates have the option of submitting a statement and/or photo if they’d like to. Candidates can have one candidate statement per election regardless of how many positions they are running for. If you submit multiple, the most recent one is what is printed. Statements have a 200-word limit, and if they go past that then the statement will be cut off at the word limit prior to publishing. Any typos, spelling, or grammatical errors will remain exactly as submitted. There is no specific information you have to include in your candidate statement and this is your choice. Many candidates like to share information about their job, how long they have worked in their field and/or have been an SEIU member, and prior experience with union activism, if any. Members may recount how they turned out to rallies to support bargaining, legislative lobby days, or their record of attendance at member meetings. Members may also note what they hope to accomplish in the role they are running for.

Candidate Photos

All candidates have the option of submitting a photo if they’d like to. It will be published as a 1” x 1” photo, so use a head and shoulders picture, like passport photo proportions. Photos will be published in a square aspect ratio, so you’re welcome to crop it prior to submission. Photos must picture the candidate only so be sure to crop out anyone else in the picture. Your picture doesn’t need to be professionally taken – this is just a way for members to recognize who you are. Photos will be published as a 1” x 1” photo in black and white for mail ballot elections or published online in a square aspect ratio in color for sub-locals participating in electronic voting. Candidates are allowed to wear SEIU gear in photos. If you’d like a shirt for a picture and don’t already have one, please put in a purple request and one will be mailed to you.

G. The Do’s and Don’ts of Campaigning for Office

Talk to Your Co-Workers

If you are a member in a worksite based sub-local, talking to your co-workers and asking that they vote for you face-to- face can be one of the most effective ways to spread the message about your candidacy. However, because of restrictions regarding the use of employer or union resources to promote your candidacy, you should be aware of the following:

  • DO campaign before or after work or on your lunch
  • DON’T campaign during paid
  • DO talk to members about your candidacy before or after union meetings (e.g., outside of the meeting in the hallway).
  • DON’T announce your candidacy during a union meeting (unless all candidates were invited to do so by the meeting sponsors in advance).

Seek Endorsements or Run on a “Joint Slate”

Candidates will often seek to inform members of other union leaders who have endorsed their candidacy. A local or sub- local as an entity cannot make an endorsement of a candidate, but you can list the individual name of a member who supports your candidacy in campaigning literature or in your candidate statement.

Some candidates choose to run on a “joint slate” where they encourage members to vote for everyone on that slate and collectively prepare campaigning literature or communications. Members can still choose to vote only for certain members on the slate if they want to.

Hand Out Campaigning Literature

In addition to talking to your co-workers, you can distribute campaigning literature. Some members create flyers for themselves or ask other members or family members for help creating a flyer. In addition to the restrictions listed surrounding talking to your co-workers:

  • DO create and print flyers at home or at a print
  • DON’T create, print, or copy flyers at the union hall or using your employer’s equipment, including employer computers, printers, or copiers.

Social Media

Social media provides another opportunity to reach out to members about your candidacy, but there are important restrictions to note. Union-operated Facebook pages and groups (including those operated by SEIU 503 or sub-locals which are administered by union officers in the sub-local) cannot be used for campaigning in Union elections in any way. However, you can post on your own page to encourage members to vote for you. You can also attempt to contact members to ask that they vote for you through Facebook or other social media platforms.

Candidate Email and Mail Requests

Candidates may not send any campaigning communications to members using employer email, either to a members’ employer email or from their own employer email. Candidates cannot use contact information accessible to the candidate only through a union or employer resource to contact members to promote their candidacy.

Candidates do have the right to request that the Union send campaigning communications by email or mail to eligible voters if they pre-pay for the cost to send the communication. Candidates interested in doing so should contact communications@seiu503.org for more information.

Using Union or Employer Funds/Resources for Campaigning

The use of union or employer funds or resources to promote the candidacy of any person in a union officer or local representative election is prohibited. This prohibition applies to facilities, equipment (e.g., telephones, computers, copiers, fax machines, e-mail systems, cell phones and cell phone lists etc.), supplies and cash as well as to campaigning on time paid for by either a union or employer and to the use of any newsletter for campaign purposes.

Candidate Forums/Campaigning at Member Meetings

There is no requirement for a sub-local to hold candidate forums. If a sub-local wants to hold a candidate forum, the format and rules for the event should be approved by the elections committee. This should include clearly identifying which positions are eligible to speak (e.g. only President, all positions, etc.), how much time each candidate will be allotted to speak and that it will not exceed the scheduled event duration for all candidates to use the full amount of time with breaks in between, who will monitor time, how the order of candidate speeches will be determined, and any other rules that need to be established.

Candidates can distribute campaign literature at a union event, conference or meeting so long as the distribution does not interfere with the agenda of the conference such as by taking place inside the meeting room during actual meeting times. Campaign literature cannot be placed on the registration table of the conference and cannot be included in the conference materials. Candidates may access the meeting room to distribute literature on the meeting tables before the beginning of the meeting or during breaks or at times when the meeting is not in progress. This activity must be done outside of the meeting program and must not be disruptive or viewed as part of the meeting agenda.

H. Counting Ballots


All candidates have the right to have an observer at the polls (if a vote is not conducted by mail) and at the counting of paper ballots. Any questions from candidates regarding observing elections should be directed to legal@seiu503org or 503-540-8437. Requests to observe should be submitted to legal@seiu503.org three business days before the ballot return deadline to ensure receipt of observer instructions in advance of the count. Electronic voting results which are automatically tabulated cannot be observed.

Tie Votes

The election committee should establish a rule establishing the means to break a tie if the sub-local bylaws don’t have wording about it. The most common means to break a tie is through a coin toss, but this might not be an effective method for large sub-locals with multi-way ties and is not the only method that you can use. Sometimes election committees also use resources like randomizer websites. Prior to the tie breaker, the candidates should be notified that a tie occurred and asked if they wish to concede (withdraw their candidacy so that another candidate is elected). If no candidate concedes, the tie should be resolved as soon as practicable and the elections committee chair should notify the tied candidates of the tiebreaking method and give the option to observe, though it should be scheduled promptly regardless of candidate availability.

I. Reporting Results

Election Committees shall announce the results and provide copies of the tally sheets to the candidates within 48 hours from the time results are certified. (Bylaws, Article XV, Section 6(g)). Election results shall be published online at seiu503.org/weare503.

J. Oath of Office

The oath of office for newly elected Local Representatives is contained in the Administrative Policies and Procedures, Article XXIV. The oath is as follows:

I do hereby solemnly affirm that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office to which I have been elected according to the Bylaws of the SEIU Local 503, Oregon Public Employees Union to the best of my ability.

 Sub-local Local Representatives’ term of office begins on May 1st, but the oath may be given at a later date coinciding with the next regular member meeting.


General Council is the supreme governing body of the Union. General Council delegates include all Statewide Officers, Board Members, Assistant Directors, and delegates elected from sub-locals numbering one delegate for each one hundred members or majority fraction thereof. The proceedings of General Council are described in the Union’s Bylaws under Article IX.

Sub-local elections should include the appropriate number of General Council delegates in the Notice of Election (The Voice, mailed in December) based on the sub-local’s membership. One alternate for every two delegates shall be elected from the next highest vote-getters running for General Council delegate. If an elected delegate is unable to serve, the alternate with the highest number of votes will be the replacement delegate. If an alternate delegate is unable to serve, the candidate with the next highest number of votes shall become the delegate to General Council, and remains the delegate for the two-year period between Councils. (Bylaws, Article XV, Section 7)

The 2024 General Council will be held between August 1-4, 2024, at the Hilton Portland Downtown in Portland, Oregon. Delegates traveling from outside of the Portland area are eligible for lodging in accordance with the requirements outlined in Article VI of the Administrative Policies and Procedures.

Any member can author a resolution proposing amendments to the Union’s Bylaws, Administrative Policies and Procedures (AP&Ps), or otherwise adopting policy for the Union. The object of the resolution process is to seek a plan for solving problems for which no satisfactory plan of solution exists; to express a view not previously expressed to date; or revise the Union’s position on a particular economic or social concern which directly or indirectly affects members of the Union. Resolutions may address only one subject per resolution. (Bylaws, Article IX, Section 6(a)).

A sub-local may endorse a resolution if a proposed resolution is presented at a meeting that is sub-local-wide (meaning all members of the sub-local had the right to attend) and have a quorum of sub-local representatives. If a resolution is presented at a sub-local meeting and the sub-local does not vote to sponsor the resolution, the author may present the resolution by petition with the signatures of fifty active members. Signature sponsorship is only permitted after the proposed resolution is submitted to a sub-local which declines to sponsor the resolution. Whether sponsored by a sub- local or by fifty signatures, the proposed resolution must be mailed or personally delivered to SEIU Local 503 Salem Headquarters to the attention of the Resolutions Review Committee (c/o Legal Department) and must be received no later than (TBD). The Board of Directors may also sponsor resolutions, which must be submitted to the Resolutions Review Committee no later than (TBD). (Bylaws, Article IX, Section 6(a)).


1) Can candidates run for multiple positions?

This depends on the sub-local and the positions they would like to run Please contact the local organizer who can help the member determine this answer.

2) Why is it okay for some candidates to follow the Q&A format on candidate statements and others do not? Why are typos and other mistakes reprinted? 

It is the candidate’s choice on how (or not) to outline their qualifications. Therefore, candidate statements will be unedited except for adjustments to accommodate space and design limitations but not to correct misspelled words or alter grammar or A statement to that effect will be contained in the candidate statement.

3) Can SEIU 503 or sub-locals endorse candidates for union office? 

Current officers or governing bodies (executive boards, Board of Directors, etc.) may not endorse candidates on behalf of the body.

4) Can a candidate speak at Union meetings? 

A candidate may give campaign speeches only if the sponsor of the meeting has contacted other candidates and given them an opportunity to attend and speak as If a candidate is a sitting officer or Local Representative responsible for running a meeting, they are not permitted to speak regarding their candidacy as they carry out other union business in the meeting.

5) What if other candidates can’t attend? 

As long as all candidates have been given the opportunity to also appear, single candidate presentations are allowed. Other candidates may send literature or a representative to speak for them.

6) What if one candidate can come one day but not another? Can a candidate be limited to attending a day by themselves? 

As long as all candidates have been given the opportunity to appear, any candidate – even one – who does appear will be permitted to speak.

7) Does the other candidate need to be notified when a candidate makes a worksite visit or attends a meeting and talks to folks on break or lunch?  

Only if a candidate is officially present and given time/access to workers/members in an official way, such as being on the agenda of a union meeting.

8) Can a candidate distribute campaign literature at a union event, conference, or meeting, and do all candidates have to be notified of union events in order to do literature distribution? 

Yes, a candidate can distribute campaign literature at a union event, conference or meeting as long as the distribution does not interfere with the agenda of the conference and complies with distribution rules in effect for the session. More specifically, campaign materials cannot be distributed during meeting times, placed on the registration table of the conference, or be included in the conference/meeting materials. This activity must be done outside of the meeting program and must not be disruptive or viewed as part of the meeting agenda.

9) How can candidates find out about union events that they may wish to attend to campaign and/or distribute campaign literature? 

Major union events are usually posted on the union web site: seiu503.org. Candidates may also contact their organizer or the Member Assistance Center for meeting/event dates.

NOTE: The union does not have an obligation to affirmatively inform or notify candidates of all union events unless the union is placing the candidates on the agenda or as part of the event allowing candidate presentations. In that case, the Union is responsible to notify all candidates (or if only one position, i.e., President, candidates for that position) of the event.

10) Can a candidate use work email to distribute campaign literature/endorsements? 

Candidates are not permitted to use work email to campaign.

11) Can candidates’ campaign and/or distribute literature at their workplace or other workplaces? 

Any campaigning or distribution of literature at workplaces is subject to rules promulgated by employers and must occur when the candidate is not on work time, and they have not gained special access to a work area by virtue of holding a union position.

12) Can a candidate use the SEIU logo/picture? 

Yes, but SEIU can’t provide it to them. They can download from a publication, cut and paste, etc. (Unless the picture or image is under copyright).

13) What rights do candidates have to communicate with eligible voters? 

Candidates may request that the Union send out campaign materials on their behalf at their expense, by following the Candidate Mail and Email Messaging Procedures. Candidates may email communications@seiu503.org to request instructions.

14) Can a candidate contact members they already have contact information for on their own? 

It depends. A candidate cannot use union information they have access to, so if they have personal email addresses from a roster used by the sub-local due to their position in office, the candidate would be prohibited from using this information for campaigning. If a candidate is friends with members and has personal contact information they did not obtain from the union or by virtue of holding union office, they are free to contact those people, provided they are not using employer email. Campaigning emails may not be sent from employer email or to recipients via their employer email.

15) Can a member who is serving on an Elections Committee have a role in a candidate’s campaign? 

All members have the right to support or oppose candidates for elective office, but the Elections Committee must act impartially. The Elections Committee shall act to replace anyone who is running for an elected office covered by the particular elections committee.

Elections committee members involved in Elections Committee business – at meetings or otherwise – may not wear candidate stickers or buttons, or hand out candidate literature, or otherwise campaign for candidates while performing their duties. It is acceptable for members to participate in candidate campaigns outside of elections committee work.

NOTE: A member who acts as a candidate campaign manager for a candidate may not serve on an elections committee that oversees the election in which that candidate is running.

16) Can a candidate use Union or Employer funds or facilities? 

Using union or employer funds to promote for or against the candidacy of any person in a union officer election is prohibited. This prohibition applies to anything of value, no matter how small the amount or value, of facilities, equipment (e.g., telephones, computers, copiers, fax machines, e-mail systems, etc.), supplies and cash as well as campaigning on time paid for by either a union or employer as well as the use of any Union newsletter, website, or social media for campaign purposes.

17) How far in advance do we give notice to candidates of a candidate forum? 

There is not a specific notice requirement as long as all candidates are given equal notice and access, but it is encouraged to give as much notice as possible.

18) Do we have to invite ALL candidates for equal representation? Does this include all at-large delegates, too? 

You must invite all the candidates for the particular position that is being invited to speak at a meeting. Leaders could choose to invite, for example, only the statewide officer candidates, only the President candidates, or only the candidates for director of a particular homecare council district. They don’t have to invite all the candidates for every position and should consider the allotted time and number of candidates in what positions are practical to invite.

19) I don’t have a personal email address, and my sub-local is having an online only election. What should I do to receive a ballot?

We recommend you use a free email hosting service such as Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo to create a personal email address.
If your sub-local is offering a hybrid election, you can call the Member Assistance Center (MAC) by the nomination close date to request a paper mail ballot instead. In this election cycle, the nomination close date is January 26 2024. Click here to find if your sub-local is offering the hybrid option or is online only.