In recent years, do-it-yourself (DIY) projects have become increasingly popular among people tackling crafting, redecorating, organizing, or home repairs utilizing videos from YouTube or detailed blog posts. That trend extends to private elections as well, inspiring some to manage the entire process internally.
Before diving straight in, you should consider if a DIY election is right for you—especially when you take into account the size and complexity of your association. Along with those considerations, you should weigh several factors to determine the viability of completing the entire process in-house.
What Does a DIY Election Involve?
One of the first factors you’ll want to consider is the workload. Since you’ll need to designate members to organize the contest and perform specific tasks, it’s important you answer two key questions: How many members will your organization allocate to manage the election? How many hours can they each give?
And once you begin the election process, you’ll need to manage the nomination stage. This involves collecting, filing, and reviewing applications, which include resumes and bios, member nominations, and petitions. Additionally, you’ll want to share reminders via email and/or snail mail, asking members to nominate candidates and review their information. After that’s complete, you’ll want to start generating enthusiasm for the election and ensure members are aware of key dates and how they’ll be voting. Such outreach should also include detailed directions explaining how members can cast ballots, which is typically done by mail, online, on-site or by phone.
Volunteers or designated members will need to design, print, and fold each ballot and seal them in an envelope. Each will need to be addressed and stamped. Depending on the size of your organization, this can range from a few dozen to hundreds of ballots. You’ll also need to count the ballots by hand.
If you decide to organize an on-site election, you’ll need to print ballots, select staff to oversee the contest, secure a location, set up polling stations, and tabulate the results by hand.
Phone voting involves hiring a third-party to set up interactive voice responses. The company will also most-likely tabulate the results. A note of caution: This will all likely come at an additional cost.
Online elections require voting software. Your association will need to decide whether it will utilize a free software system or a third-party company. If you choose free software, it will involve creating the online ballot, filling out names of candidates and ensuring a single-vote system. However, most free systems cannot guarantee adequate security and protection. A third-party vendor may cost a bit more, but they typically provide security in addition to running the entire voting process from start to finish.
What Are the Pros & Cons?
If your association has a limited budget, DIY elections can save your organization money. You’ll eliminate the cost of a third-party election management system, voting software, and ancillary services.
Easy to Plan & Promotes Familiarity
For moderate-sized associations, elections can easily be handled by its members. If the organization has about 20-or-so members, voting and tabulation can be conducted quickly. Plus, members may be familiar with certain protocols and measures, such as online surveys, that have previously been used.
Loss of Time & Resources
Members must allocate their time and resources to organizing the contest. With most focused on planning the actual election, there is little time to consider and deploy voter engagement strategies.
Lack of Additional Services
When engaging an election management agency, you’ll receive a wide range of services. They can run the nomination process, election, and tabulation in addition to security, social media engagement, and design of ballots.
The Size & Complexity of Your Organization
The final factor impacting your decision is the size and complexity of your organization. Does your association have 50 members or 1,000? Are they located in a specific area or are spread out across the country? DIY elections can work for modestly-sized organizations with less than 100 members. The ballot, nomination process, and general election won’t be as complex as if there were more members. In short, it’s more cost-effective and you won’t lose time or resources.
For those with more than 100 members, it’s best to engage an election management company. They can absorb all of the responsibilities of managing the election from the nominations process to tabulation to social media engagement and more. This saves your organization time and provides additional benefits you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Another consideration are internal bylaws and laws that govern your organization. Members must review and decipher all the relevant regulations, so if those are complex or confusing, it may be helpful to engage a professional. An election management vendor can review all the necessary bylaws and federal or state laws to ensure the election is fair and accurate.
YesElections can help your organization run its election from start to finish, saving you time and money. Plus, we offer additional services such as social media engagement and ballot design to improve voter turnout. We make the election secure, simple and easy, so all your members have to do is cast their ballot. We handle the rest. To get your next election started, contact a YesElections representative today.