Organizing an election is no small task. As some groups can attest, there’s nothing more deflating for organizations than to work tirelessly to get everything up and running only to see a small percentage of eligible members cast a vote.
Not only is it disheartening for those organizing these contests, but also for members who may succumb to a plague of apathy infecting their colleagues.
So what is a member-based organization to do about increasing voter turnout?
Your first inclination to host internal brainstorm sessions and request feedback from members may not be necessary. In actuality, the most prudent measure may be to scrutinize your election process—specifically, your preferred voting method.
In recent years, online voting has grown dramatically, but paper and on-site elections still remain popular options. While there are pros and cons associated with all voting options, internet voting distinguishes itself for its array of benefits, higher turnout, among these.
Here are several reasons why online voting increases turnout:
Americans are increasingly devoting more of their free time (and dare we say moments when they're on the clock) on digital devices, paying bills, applying for mortgages, perusing social media, or hailing cabs. When you consider how technology has made once-laborious exercises exceedingly easy to manage, you begin to realize that almost anything can be made more convenient. This includes elections.
The reason why member-based organizations adopt online voting ranges, but one of this method’s most appealing attributes is increased turnout. Voting on the internet is as easy as accessing an election site via any digital device, including smartphones, computers, and tablets.
So, how does voting online actually work? The honest answer is it depends on your election vendor, but in most cases, members can cast a ballot through their group’s portal—an internal site where members access important information—or a third-party site. The latter may require unique log-in credentials to gain access to online ballots.
This may sound over-simplistic, but online voting is truly as easy as clicking a button.
Internet voting removes all the ancillary tasks linked with other forms of voting, including by mail or phone. While still wildly popular, paper voting requires ballots to be printed and mailed, sometimes at an exorbitant cost to member organizations. As long as the recipient doesn’t misplace the ballot, they must manually fill out the form and return it to a designated address.
With web elections, members can log-in and vote wherever they are, whether on the train, relaxing in the park or on the beach, or in their living room.
As we mentioned in our comprehensive guide to online voting, Americans are spending almost half their days consuming media on various devices, which is extraordinary. Despite a slight decline in daily Facebook usage in 2018, social media continues to suck up a lot of our time.
So, what does that mean for elections? Aside from the political banter you likely try to avoid on your Facebook feeds, every November the social media giant promotes voting by enabling users to publicly announce their participation. In its truest form, voting is especially empowering—and encouraging people to share that they voted can motivate others to do the same. In one of the few studies on Facebook’s early efforts to “get out the vote,” researchers found “‘strong ties in cyberspace are more likely than ‘weak ties’ to influence behavior,” according to The New York Times.
When researching election management agencies, ask if they include social media integration with online voting. This enables members to announce they voted on various social media platforms after completing ballots. Not only does this add to the sense of empowerment associated with voting, but it can go a long way to persuade a historically disengaged member to vote.
For organizations struggling to generate high turnout, the most simplistic answer may be to switch voting methods. By adopting online voting, member-based groups will provide constituents with a more convenient way to cast a ballot, while also leveraging their social media sites to encourage their colleagues to also visit their respective digital ballot box.
If you're worried that not all of your members will be drawn to this form of voting, you may want to consider hybrid versions. These include voting online and by paper or another method. It's one of the easiest ways to transition completely to internet balloting, and could buy you a great deal of support among members.
YesElections has facilitated and managed elections throughout the United States for more than a decade. Our experience and state-of-the-art security make us one of the most reliable election management agencies in the country. To learn more about how YesElections can help your organization, request a free consultation, today.