Anytime you’re inserting something new into the equation, it’s always good to check the temperature of those who would be most impacted. That’s especially true for association elections.
Transitioning to a digital voting platform for your association election is not quite as difficult as you’d imagine. And once you begin the process, you’ll likely find your online voting infrastructure to be more intuitive, streamlined, and efficient than any previous voting method. But before you make any big changes, it’s always important to consult your members first.
Before we get into the question of whether online voting is right for your association, let’s briefly discuss some of the benefits of digital voting platforms:
- Cost-efficient: While many of us are used to paying top-dollar for new technology, online voting is the most cost-effective way to run an election. That’s because physical infrastructure, including paper ballots and bulk mail, are completely removed from the equation.
- Convenient: According to Pew Research Center, ownership of digital devices, including smartphones and tablets, continues to grow. It’s possible that many members may actually prefer online balloting because it allows them to vote at their leisure.
- Secure: While we’ve written comprehensively about online election security previously, a few notable attributes worth mentioning are single-vote verification and data protection. If you’re in the market for an election vendor, make sure you ask whether they prevent duplicate votes and protect member data.
- Increased Turnout: Convincing more people to vote is among the most common reasons associations seek out new vendors. Increasing turnout not only means you’re generating more enthusiasm for these critical contests, but that members are generally becoming more engaged. Simply making voting easier has shown to drive turnout.
Is Online Voting Right For Your Association?
This is not a question you have to answer on your own. An experienced election management agency can help you determine the best voting method for your members.
But to help you along the way, it’s probably best to explain the online voting process.
For the most part, your election vendor will manage every aspect of the election. Reputable election management agencies typically invest in voting management systems that handle everything from the nominations to tabulating votes.
In practice, that means online voting management systems perform as a one-stop-shop for all your tasks. It’s where you’ll be able to submit and process nominations, including upload images and biographies, design and distribute online ballots, and process votes.
If you’re concerned about eligible voters learning a new platform, you can instead opt to carry out the election on your existing site—meaning members won’t have to worry about getting acclimated to an entirely new system.
While reasons for switching to digital voting platforms vary, among the most common are cost and turnout.
As we mentioned earlier, online voting can reduce your election-related costs while also helping increase voter turnout. That’s made possible by inherent convenience associated with internet voting and by leveraging voting management systems to produce post-election reports that will help you better understand how many ballots were cast and by whom. Also, with real-time ballot tracking, you’ll be able to get an accurate reading of returned ballots as the election is ongoing, enabling you to reach out to members throughout the day to encourage greater participation.
If security is top of mind then a respected vendor should assuage your concerns. Single-vote verification ensures duplicate votes aren’t cast. You’ll also want to ask the agency running your election about member data protection, as they should never share such information with third-party groups.
While digital voting platforms are popular for many of the above reasons, they’re also associated with more accurate results. Since paper ballots are prone to errors—especially if someone shades the wrong bubble or doesn’t fill in a form correctly—digital ballots are not susceptible to such errors. In the case of online voting, if someone accidentally selects the wrong option, they can simply deselect and vote as they intended.
There's good reason why associations for years have relied on digital voting platforms for their elections. As we documented, these systems are robust and encompass a full suite of election service. So, is a digital voting platform right for your association election? If you're looking to cut costs, streamline election operations, increase turnout, and give your members a more convenient voting option, then the answer may very well be "yes."
For more information about this method of voting, check out our Online Voting Guide. YesElections has years of experience running online elections for small and large private organizations. To learn more about how we can help your organization run a secure, accessible, and more cost-effective online contest, contact us for a free consultation, today.