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Behind the Scenes with AFSA’s Committee on Elections

On the morning of June 4,

the American Foreign Service

Association’s Committee on

Elections gathered, as they

do every two years, to count

the votes cast in the 2015-

2017 AFSAGoverning Board


Following prompt closure

of the online voting plat-

form at 8 a.m., a committee

member collected the paper

ballots from a nearby post

office, where the ballots had

been safeguarded as they

arrived via military, diplomatic

and regular post fromAFSA

members the world over.

Donuts and coffee in hand,

the committee set to work

sorting and scanning all paper

ballot envelopes at approxi-

mately 9:40 a.m.

They checked to make

sure votes fulfilled the

requirements for eligibility.

Outer envelopes were opened

and secret ballot envelopes

collected. A second and third

check of the outer envelopes

was conducted to ensure no

ballots were overlooked.

Candidates were allowed

to observe the tallying, and a

number of governing board

hopefuls streamed in and out

throughout the day.

With only a brief break for

lunch, the committee worked

meticulously to ensure a

smooth process. At 1:30 p.m.,

the tallies from the paper and

online ballots were merged.

Preliminary results were

printed and announced at

2:20 p.m.

A total of 4,034 votes were

cast this year: 1,023 written

and 3,011 online. This figure is

significantly higher than that

of the 2013-2015 election, in

which 3,502 voters partici-


For committee members,

ballot-counting day may be

the most gratifying of their

two-year term. The commit-

tee is tasked with running a

fair and transparent elec-

tion—no small feat consid-

ering the logistical details

involved, including publishing

a call for nominations, ensur-

ing all AFSAmembers have

access to voting information,

facilitating town hall meet-

ings, distributing campaign

platforms and more.

AFSA thanks committee

members for their hard work,

including Chair Robert “Bill”

Farrand, Jenna Bucha Jones,

Mort Dworken, Russell Knight,

Andrea Strano and AFSA

staff—Executive Director Ian

Houston, General Counsel

Sharon Papp, Director of

Member Services Janet Hed-

rick, Member Services Repre-

AFSA Committee on Elections Chair Bill Farrand (left) and AFSA Member

Services Representative Natalie Cheung (right) consult on a ballot.


sentative Natalie Cheung and

Elections Intern Brianna Pope.

A full breakdown of the

2015-2017 election results

can be found at



—Shannon Mizzi,

Editorial Intern


The American Foreign Service Association is closely monitoring developments on the recent data breach at the Office

of Personnel Management and updating our website with the latest information at

On June 22, AFSA sent a letter to the director of OPM regarding the reported breach in the SF-86 security clear-

ance system (see

). In the letter, AFSA stressed the unique vulnerability of the Foreign Service,

given its overseas presence and diplomatic assignments, and specifically petitioned for lifetime credit monitoring

services and liability insurance, among other demands.

AFSA also joined our partners in the Federal Postal Coalition in submitting a letter to President Barack Obama on

behalf of our combined five million members reiterating our concerns. The letter included explicit reference to diplo-

macy and development professionals (see


We encourage our members to keep checking AFSA’sWeb page, as well the OPM page, for additional information.