Elections are expensive endeavors. From printing ballots to mass mailings, the financial toll of operating an election can put a strain on any budget. Online voting can help save money.
- Alternate Methods
While member-based groups are often good about preparing for these all-consuming contests, having the financial flexibility to run a seamless election while still maintaining wiggle room to manage additional member-related expenses is crucial.
Whether your group maintains a lean budget or can flex its muscle financially, organizations are always keen on reducing costs. To that end, online voting can potentially ease your financial burden and improve the overall election experience.
Some groups may be hesitant to move elections to the web because of concerns about online voting security, among other factors. Such misgivings are good, because they mean you have the best interests of your members at heart. Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll realize online voting may be the missing link you’ve been searching for to significantly improve turnout, reduce costs, and simplify voting.
Since private elections are often mandated by law, there’s no way around avoiding these events altogether. At any rate, elections should be viewed favorably as a way to engage with members and bring them into the fold, not as distractions or inconveniences.
The overall benefits of online voting are well documented. Along with boosting member engagement and ensuring elections are secure, organizations want to know how they can reduce costs. So let’s get started.
Printing ballots—this is where it all begins. One of the earliest phases of any election is the nomination period. Once candidates have been selected and proposals finalized, paper ballots are typically printed and mailed to eligible members. (We’ll get to mass mailings shortly.)
The cost of actually printing thousands of ballots, if not more, can be significant.
Once you adopt online voting, those expenses are immediately eliminated. If an organization generally opts for printed ballots, then the cost savings will be apparent. Even for inaugural elections, however, the cost effectiveness associated with online voting as compared to other practices would be difficult to pass up.
As we document in our comprehensive guide to online voting, the price of stamps has gone up every year except for three since 2012—now costing 55 cents.
Given the current trend, it’s unlikely stamp prices will remain at current levels for very long. Similarly, you should dismiss any expectations these will decline—that ship has indeed sailed.
For member-based groups, the cost of mailing can be prohibitive.
Overall, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) increased postage 2.5 percent in January 2019, affecting every form of shipping.
The USPS, however, does offer discounts for bulk mailings, with the current commercial rate for a minimum of 500 pieces of first-class mail standing at 38 cents each. Even then, there’s an enormous number of ballots that need to be delivered, potentially costing individual groups thousands of dollars.
So, how does online voting help? Just as in the case with printing costs, you’ll no longer have to pay your local post office hundreds, if not thousands, to ship ballots and have them returned. Instead, ballots will live on the internet—whether through your member’s portal or a third-party site. Each member will receive instructions via email detailing how to access their ballots. Once their vote is processed, there’s nothing a member has to do other than wait for the results.
ARE THERE OTHER OPTIONS?
Well, if you want to save money, online voting is likely the best alternative—but there are hybrid and composite voting methods for organizations concerned about forcing new techniques upon their voters altogether. Depending on the model you choose, members can either vote by paper or via the internet. It may be worthwhile for those who want to give online balloting a performance test run and project potential savings.
Member-based organizations are well aware of the costs associated with elections, so none of this should be much of a surprise. It’s always prudent to investigate cost savings, however, and online voting is by far the best way to do so. Election decisions shouldn’t be made in a vacuum. Groups should consider all the aspects of a particular method before making wholesale changes. As far as online voting goes, its level of convenience, security measures, and cost effectiveness is often too hard to pass up. The money saved in the process can be invested in other services that are important to your members, too.
For more than a decade, YesElections has managed elections across 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.