The board of directors in any organization is an incredibly important role because its decisions can impact thousands of members.
Whether a Homeowner’s Association, housing cooperative, union, educational or financial institution, or any other type of member-based organization, those sitting on boards do so at the pleasure of eligible voting members.
That means these elections serve a critical purpose and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Each step needs to be carefully planned and executed in order to ensure the highest voter participation possible and to maintain trust in the process.
Understanding the Board of Directors Election Process
It is important to note that election procedures vary depending on the industry, organization, and each respective group’s bylaws.
First, let’s go through some basics:
- While states have their own laws regulating member elections, organizational bylaws serve two important functions: to preserve the integrity of an election and by acting as a guide for executing the contest. Importantly, bylaws also stipulate how many people can sit on a board and how long members can serve.
- Another thing to consider: How the board of directors positions are voted upon varies by industry. Let’s use Homeowner’s Associations (HOAs) and housing cooperatives (Co-Ops) as an example. In both instances, candidates are selected during annual board meetings that require a quorum—a certain number of eligible members voting. The process is similar for credit unions, which typically host their elections during annual meetings. However, much larger credit unions that are spread out across multiple regions may require delegate elections.
- This may not be the case for other organizations, which simply cast ballots outside of formal gatherings. That means members are provided an election schedule and must cast their ballot at the appropriate time.
Two key aspects of any board of directors’ election are nominations and selecting a voting method. A robust nomination process is the best way to generate early enthusiasm and to attract a greater number of candidates. Choosing a voting method that’s best for your membership will help drive turnout.
Organizational rules notwithstanding, most elections include a nominating period that culminates with candidates appearing on the ballot. Generally speaking, potential candidates can volunteer to enter the race, earn their way by collecting a certain number of signatures or are nominated by fellow members. An election partner that can consolidate nomination information—including candidate bios, pictures and positions—can simplify the process.
Selecting a voting method is an important piece of the process. It will dictate how members will cast a ballot and what procedures are in place to properly execute the election. Among the most common forms of voting: by mail, online, in-person and over the phone. While organizations have their reasons for favoring a particular method, many are now relying on online voting for their elections, largely due to the cost-effectiveness and convenience of casting a ballot over the internet. This is especially true now considering the limitations of gathering in person. If this is the case for your membership, there are suitable alternatives to in-person voting, including through the use of e-proxies (electronic voting), mailed ballots or secure drop-off boxes.
How to Manage an Election
One of the best ways to effectively manage an election is by hiring an experienced election management agency that’s familiar with state regulations and bylaws and provides a secure voting apparatus.
You’ll want to engage with an election vendor that is serious about ballot security, has experience with increasing turnout and can support a multitude of voting options.
When doing your research, make sure to ask the agency if they have a process for eliminating duplicate votes, can assist with nominations and provides insights into improving the election experience for your members. It’s important to remember that members lead busy lives, underscoring the need to provide a seamless election experience. Anything short of that can turn them into disenchanted members who disregard future elections—and that’s the last thing you want.
With years of experience managing elections, YesElections offers industry-leading security and a wide array of voting services to ensure members vote, and continue to do so, for years to come. Contact us today to request a complimentary consultation.