For groups that have historically relied on paper ballots, transitioning to online elections may feel daunting. The good news is shifting from one voting method to another is much easier than you may think. Hybrid voting provides several options for associations considering a move to online elections.
As we’ve documented previously, online voting has emerged as one of the most popular voting options for associations across the globe. Among its key benefits: convenience, reduced election costs, security, and increased turnout.
Organizations known for operating elections the traditional way—mailed paper ballots—are often unsure about how to proceed. To alleviate any pressure you may be feeling about transitioning from one method to the next, here are hybrid methods that should help wean you off paper ballots before fully transitioning to online voting.
Putting Members First
Prior to making any major decision about your election, take a moment to consider what would be best for your members and your association as a whole. Many groups switch to internet elections because of low voter turnout and a disconcerting decline in member engagement.
Another reason associations make the change is to reduce election costs. Let’s face it, member elections—as with any major project—can be pricey. Much of the costs associated with paper ballots are related to mailing and printing—two elements that don’t exist in an online-only election.
But in many other cases, associations change course simply because the current practice isn’t working well for their voters. Whatever your reason for contemplating a transition, reinforce to your members that all decisions are being made with their interests at heart.
Hybrid Voting, Explained
Hybrid voting is essentially what it sounds like: voters have multiple options when casting a ballot.
Election management agencies that offer hybrid voting typically rely on two voting methods—mailed ballots and online voting.
Here’s how it works: Every single member receives a mailed paper ballot that also includes information about how to vote online. Hybrid voting essentially gives members a choice about how they’d prefer to proceed: complete the paper ballot and return it in the mail or follow the accompanying instructions for online voting. Not only are you empowering members to make a decision that’s best for them, you’re utilizing a piecemeal approach that'll make it easier to exclusively run an online election in the near future.
Once voting is complete, your election vendor should be able to provide data on the total number of votes and the way in which they completed the ballot. This will give you a greater sense of how to move forward in the future.
Another option is called composite voting. With this method, members with email addresses on file will be sent an online ballot while those with a physical address will receive a paper ballot. Similar to the traditional hybrid method, voters decide how they’d like to vote.
Transitioning To Online Voting
Both options make the transition to online voting that much easier and provide members an opportunity to test the waters. Given online voting’s aforementioned benefits, including many others, it should be no surprise if the pendulum quickly swings in favor of online elections. Before committing entirely to internet voting, consult with your members to ensure they're prepared for this new method of voting.
For more than a decade, YesElections has managed elections throughout the United States. Our investment in state-of-the-art security makes us one of the most reliable election management agencies in the nation. To learn more about how YesElections can help your organization, request a free consultation, today.