Union Election Information and Procedures FAQ

Download the Election Logistics FAQ

1. When is the vote?

For eligible voter graduate students on the Ithaca and Geneva campuses, the vote will be held on the following days and places:

  • Ithaca: March 27 and 28, 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m., at the voting location assigned to the student (by email, on 3/18/17).  
  • Geneva: March 28, 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.  (Geneva students will be assigned to vote in Ithaca unless a request to vote in Geneva is received by Jason Kahabka,, by 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, March 22, 2017 to be assigned to the Geneva voting location.

2. Which graduate fields have been assigned to which locations?Each eligible voter graduate student was sent an email on Saturday, March 18 with their assigned location.  All Graduate Field Assistants will receive a master list of which graduate fields have been assigned to each location, to help address any student questions.

3.  Where do I vote?

Each eligible voter graduate student received an assignment to a specific polling place on March 18, via email.  If an eligible voter graduate student is unsure about where to vote, contact Jason Kahabka, .

4.  What identification do I need to bring when I go to the polling place to vote?

Please bring photo identification such as your Cornell ID card or a government-issued ID such as a driver’s license or passport.

5. What is the purpose of this election?

The result of this election will determine if Cornell Graduate Students United (CGSU)/ American Federation of Teachers (AFT)/ New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) will be the exclusive collective bargaining representative for all graduate students enrolled in the Graduate School who hold appointments as Teaching Assistants, Graduate Research Assistants, Research Assistants, or Graduate Assistants for the Ithaca and Geneva campuses.

This is a decision for graduate students to make.

Every vote matters. The outcome of the election will be binding on all current and future graduate students holding the titles above.  It is essential that you vote to ensure your voice is heard on this important issue.

6. Are there provisions for absentee/proxy ballots?

  • If you are currently registered as in absentia with the Graduate School, immediately request an absentee ballot from AAA at 1-800-529-5218 or
  • If you anticipate you will be off-campus on election days on graduate education-related activities and can prove you made the commitment to the activity prior to March 6, immediately request an absentee ballot (and show proof of your activity commimtnet) by contacting AAA at 1-800-529-5218 or


7.  How is the vote decided?

The vote will be decided by a simple majority of votes cast on election days, not a majority of the graduate students who are eligible to vote.  There are about 2,200 graduate students in the proposed bargaining unit.  It is imperative that as many eligible graduate students as possible cast their ballots. 

You must go to the polls and vote to have your viewpoint counted.  If you abstain from voting, you will still be included in the union if a majority of those who vote cast ballots for the union.

8. Who can vote?

All Ithaca and Geneva campus-based teaching assistants, graduate assistants, research assistants and graduate research assistants who hold a current appointment under University Policy 1.3 and are enrolled in the Graduate School are eligible to vote.  If a graduate student has any question about his/ her eligibility to vote, he/ she should contact the Graduate School at

9. Will challenged ballots be counted?

Challenged ballots are only reviewed if there are more challenged ballots than the difference between the number of votes cast on each side, as otherwise they cannot affect the outcome of the election.  If a student is not on the eligibility list and believes they are eligible to vote and goes to the polls and requests a ballot, they may be given a challenged ballot.  If in doubt, they should go and vote.

10. How is the vote being monitored to ensure an accurate vote? Will the union and/or Cornell monitor the election process conducted by AAA?

The conduct of the election will by supervised by the American Arbitration Association (AAA).  Both Cornell and the CGSU/AFT/NYSUT will have observers present at the polling places. 

11.  Does it matter if I signed (or didn’t sign) a petition or authorization card in the past few months?

  • All eligible graduate assistants as defined above, regardless of whether they signed a union card or petition may vote in the election. Prior submission of an authorization card or petition signature does not count as a vote, nor does it commit the signer to vote in any particular way.
  • Graduate assistants who did not sign an authorization card or petition may vote “yes” or “no” on the question of union representation; similarly, a graduate assistant who signed an authorization card or petition may also vote “yes” or “no.”


12. When will the results of the election be known?

Generally, election results are known within 24 hours of the polls closing.  However, CGSU/AFT/NYSUT and Cornell will be able to file challenges to particular ballots (without knowing how any individual voted on the secret ballot); the decision on challenged ballots will be made by an arbitrator chosen by the parties and designated in the election procedures agreement.  If a hearing with the arbitrator is needed to resolve challenged ballots, the hearing will be held within 10 days of the election.  A decision, order and certification of election results shall issue within 14 calendar days of the hearing. 

13.  Where can I find factual information to help inform my vote? 

The Graduate School website contains helpful information, including “frequently asked questions” on unionization, an Ask a Dean archive, and factual information on graduate student policies (including stipends and benefits).