Are You Ready for Online Voting?
Many associations have already made the move to online voting for board elections and policy referendums. But before you rock the vote in cyberspace, consider three key questions.
Associations are well ahead of the curve with “voting reform,” an issue that President Barack Obama touched on during his inauguration speech Monday. Thanks to security enhancements and other improvements over the last several years, many associations have simplified the voting process by moving it online.
But is online voting right for your association? How do you determine if you’re ready to make the jump? Peter Westerhaus, vice president of Survey & Ballot Systems, aimed to answer those questions and more in a recent article on his group’s website.
“Associations rely on an active member base to stay vibrant,” Westerhaus wrote. “One key way that members stay engaged is through the power of the ballot. Whether it’s a leadership election or a referendum on a new policy, voting gives members an opportunity to shape their organizations’ future.”
Groups should take three steps to assess whether they are ready for online voting, according to Westerhaus.
“First, check your state statutes,” wrote Westerhaus. “State law might define how your organization is allowed to vote, and electronic or web-based methods might not be included. … Next, check your bylaws, which might specifically list approved ways for executing elections and conducting votes.”
An association should then identify its member demographics. “Chances are that not all your members are computer-savvy or have easy access to the internet,” Westerhaus wrote. If a significant number of your members fall into that category, online voting might not be worthwhile.
Finally, if it appears that online voting would be a good fit for an association, a secure process should be established.
“The security of voting information and the protection of member data must be paramount,” Westerhaus wrote. “If something goes wrong, members may lose trust in the election process and the association itself. Whether you are hiring a vendor or developing a system in-house … make sure each member’s voting experience and personal data will be protected.”
“Online elections are becoming more and more popular within the association industry,” Westerhaus said in a separate statement. “Before purchasing or putting in place a web-based voting system, organizations need to do their due diligence to determine if they can…make the move online.”
Has your association taken the dive into online voting? Tell us about your experience in the comments.