Understanding the critical importance of security, voter privacy, as well as compliance with the U.S. Department of Labor and the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act is the hallmark of any productive relationship between an election management company and labor unions.
Of vital significance for most labor unions is increasing voter turnout and boosting member engagement. With an array of different voting options, including online, mail, phone, on-site or hybrid elections, YesElections works closely with union partners to identify which method will ultimately achieve best results. Additionally, YesElections’ exclusive technology ensures seamless integration with our secure voting system and member portals.
Elected union officers represent members in public and in the halls of power, lobbying for fairer contracts and stronger benefit packages. Not only do union workers rely on their leadership to fight on their behalf, but these are official positions required by law, further underscoring their importance.
The goal, of course, is to turn out as many members as possible in order to ensure as many voices are heard. Moving elections online has shown to directly lead to increased voter participation.
Premier voting security and data protection
Full compliance with LMRDA and Department of Labor regulations
Increased voter turnout
Verifiable, real-time results
Custom ballots incorporating union bylaws, contract resolutions, and membership queries
Specialized WebBridge™ technology providing seamless integration with member portals
Reduced election costs
Voting by mail, internet, phone, on-site or hybrid options
Planning a union election requires a great deal of due diligence. The best way to get started is to review your union’s constitution and bylaws, as well as this guide created by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS). If you’re fully aware of your obligations but could use a handy union election checklist, here’s a condensed version developed by the Labor Department. In addition, it’s important to familiarize (or refamiliarize) yourself with the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA), which serves as the regulatory framework for all union elections.
While we recommend you read our comprehensive guide to planning a union election, here’s a brief overview of your responsibilities:
The aforementioned guide to planning a union election breaks down each step in the process, including advice for running an efficient and fair election
While the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA) has served as the regulatory framework for union elections for decades, there’s still some ambiguity as it relates to modern voting practices, particularly online union elections.
The LMRDA is the governing legislation that requires unions to utilize secret balloting and ballot preservation. It also includes safeguards to ensure fair elections. But when it comes to certain election methods, such as mail or online voting, the LMRDA isn’t as straightforward as unions would like. Still, the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS), which enforces the law, allows certain voting practices despite apparent ambiguity in the law.
As for mail ballots, here’s how we explained the LMRDA’s interpretation in our guide to understanding the LMRDA:
“While the OLMS accepts mailed ballots as a viable voting option, this conflicts with LMRDA’s reference to poll observers—which would be impossible to accommodate for members completing mail, absentee or electronic ballots. To accommodate this, the OLMS identified other requirements mail ballot voting can meet and are in line with LMRDA standards, such as allowing observers when the ballot envelopes are stuffed, labeled, and mailed and during any visits to the post office to pick up and remail ballot packages.”
While officials have yet to introduce similar clarification for online elections, it has largely permitted the practice so long as ballots remain secret and observers are permitted when votes are being tabulated. To help you better navigate federal regulations, we created this in-depth analysis of the LMRDA, its history, and what it means for union elections.
The short answer: yes. If you’ve read the above section regarding the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA), you’d see that there’s nothing preventing unions from organizing online elections. As we explained in the above section, while it is true that the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) has yet to issue clear guidelines about online union elections, it also hasn’t prohibited such voting. In order to run an online election, you have to meet general federal requirements, such as maintaining secret ballots and preserving ballots for up to one year, as well as allowing observers to oversee vote counting.
In a compliance tip last updated in October 2016, the OLMS made clear its position on online voting: “As with other voting procedures, remote electronic voting systems may be permissible under the statute so long as they satisfy the LMRDA’s standards.”
When it comes time to choose an online voting system for your union election, make sure the vendor prioritizes ballot secrecy and is educated on all federal and state regulations.
So long as you follow federal and state regulations, there is no reason union elections wouldn’t be secure. You have to remember that union elections operate very differently from our public voting system—which, to date, still predominantly occurs at polling locations. Unions, however, often hire a voting management agency that specializes in member-based organization elections, including remote online voting. For example, YesElections ensures 100-percent ballot secrecy—not even our team can see how someone voted—and utilizes single-vote verification to prevent duplicate votes. On top of that, YesElections does not share voter data with third-party organizations. Those same measures are adopted regardless of the voting method—meaning no matter how you vote, your members’ ballots are secure.
We took the time out to fully analyze common election security questions, from secret ballots and single-vote verification to ballot tracking and secure nominations.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s so-called “Janus” decision in 2018 was understandably an anxious moment for unions across the United States. In short, the court ruled that unions are prohibited from compelling non-members from paying union dues—an amount members pay regularly that supports various union efforts. Since union elections are mandated by federal and state law, the Janus decision would mostly impact election budgets, potentially forcing some to drive down expenses. Obviously, not all unions are made equal, which means Janus likely had disparate effects on unions. Those unions looking to reduce expenditures may have sought to streamline elections by switching to online voting, which is considered the most cost-effective way to run an election.