Effective elections are a vital way to keep your member-based organization governed fairly. It is one of the few times you are able to get feedback from a large group of your members all at once, so you should make sure to take full advantage of such a great opportunity to gain knowledge and new perspectives. Almost every member-based organization has regular elections, which is why it’s important they are getting the most out of their efforts.
Some things to keep in mind when looking to make your organization’s election as effective as possible:
Understand the legal requirements associated with running your election.
Bylaw and state statutes are usually clear on what restrictions you may have to place on your election process. Keep in mind that these are always subject to change and you should be prepared if at some point, new bylaws or statutes affect the way you run your election process.
Make potential candidates aware of the election and create a desire to run.
It should be easy for members to nominate other members or themselves. Having a wide range of members to choose from as potential board members can only help your organization. Keeping the nominee pool small limits potentially strong candidates from running. Promote this process heavily so all members know you are accepting nominations and that your election is occurring in the near future.
Promote and highlight why the election is important to potential candidates and what specifically they can contribute. Have a list of potential future candidates so you know who to reach out to when new candidates are needed. Also, avoid uncontested elections whenever possible. They discourage members from voting and bringing new ideas and talent to your board.
Ensure a fair, unbiased election.
Avoid any potential conflicts of interest throughout the process. Typically, turning the process over to a third-party is the best way to show impartiality and transparency to your members. This also helps to keep your organization free of complaints regarding the election process.
Try to maximize the reach of your election within the organization.
Promote the election date heavily among your membership. Provide voting options that all members can have easy access to, not just some. This ensures that no member of your organization feels disenfranchised about their ability to vote and have a say.
Review the results and your process after the fact.
Make sure you are reviewing your election to highlight what went well, what didn’t, and how you could change things in the future. Be sure to ask yourself:
- Did you reach your required response rate or whatever goal you set?
- Did you meet all timelines associated with the election?
- Were there any complaints?
- What could you do next time to save effort and ensure effectiveness?