The goal of any voting association is to not only increase turnout year after year but to generate consistent engagement among members.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. Members lead busy lives and balancing professional and personal obligations, on top of association duties, can be a challenge.
As an organization dedicated to supporting and improving the lives of your members, you should rely on your instincts when implementing initiatives and programs to ensure wider participation. At the end of the day, you know them better than anyone. However, new approaches can prevent people from devolving into a state of apathy.
If you put aside for a second that association elections are typically mandated by law, elections help you get a better understanding of member enthusiasm and their feelings toward your organization overall. Simply put, the more people complete ballots the more likely they are to engage with the association as a whole.
In the spirit of improving voter turnout for your association election, here are some tips to maximizing association engagement.
Choose A Voting Method That’s Best For Your Membership
If you’re struggling to turn out the voters, you may want to reconsider voting methods. While all options have their pros and cons, certain methods are known to increase engagement better than others.
While the options at your disposal may differ based on the election management agency you’re working with, the most common are mail balloting, on-site contests, and online voting. Of these, online voting is considered the best alternative if your goal is to dramatically improve turnout levels, due to convenience, reliability, increased comfort with digital tools, and social media integration.
If you’re considering online voting, allow members to cast a ballot directly through your organization’s member portal. Since members are familiar with the site, it increases the chances of them participating in your contest.
In most cases, members can vote on their smartphones, tablets, or computers from the comfort of their own home, the park, or wherever they may be. Beyond casting a ballot, voters may also have the ability to promote the election on social media and encourage others to get involved. Being able to leverage your members’ skills at communicating over social media is invaluable for any member-based organization committed to producing greater turnout.
Spread The Word During Nominations
The nomination process is one of the most important aspects of any election, not only because candidates are selected for board positions but it helps drive interest in elections.
While there’s little benefit in comparing political races to private, member-based elections, both share at least one similarly: If there’s widespread interest leading up to a contest, then people are more likely to cast a ballot.
You can use the nomination period to widen the candidate pool, potentially leading to a greater diversity of ideas, and as a result, more interest in the election campaign. This can also be an opportunity to announce when the election will take place and remind people how to cast a ballot.
Of course, you may run into resistance from members who are not comfortable campaigning for elected seats—which is entirely reasonable. Organizing a campaign can be both time-consuming and stressful. So if you’re worried about voter turnout, start this process early to ensure a robust nomination process.
Once nominees have been selected, consider customizing ballots to better capture the attention of your members. Members are more likely to vote when they can review the candidate’s photograph and hometown with their biography.
Frequently Remind Members About The Election
Elections are often scheduled months in advance, so there’s ample time to promote the contest. You don’t want to oversaturate members with election updates, but instead, distribute incremental updates that provide valuable information they’ll need to cast a ballot.
Indeed, not every announcement has to serve as an explicit election reminder. If there’s an upcoming event or conference your group may be interested in attending, provide members with the relevant details, and use the opportunity to highlight the latest election updates. It’s important to reach out to members using their preferred method of communication, whether its mailed notice or email.
For large associations with chapters in different regions, you should empower local leaders to promote voting since members are already conditioned to receiving updates and news from chapter officials.
Assuming you’re working with an election management agency, inquire about ways in which past clients have increased turnout and determine whether such methods are applicable to your organization.
While there’s a lot you can do as an organization to boost turnout, working with a reputable election management agency can help your overall efforts. Elections features such as 24/7 technical support, real-time ballot tracking, and post-election reports can collectively help you reach your goals.
There’s no denying that increasing turnout takes work and a bit of trial and error. But once you come up with a successful strategy, you can repeat the same steps—perhaps with minor changes—during future elections.
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.