Managing Your Election During A Pandemic
It’s been nearly one year since the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying worldwide public health crisis crashed into our lives and upended everything. At Survey & Ballot Systems, we have spent decades helping member organizations increase voter participation while maintaining election security and transparency – all in innovative ways.
Throughout 2020, we used that extensive experience to help member organizations of all types and sizes rapidly pivot to allow for everything from online voting opportunities and keeping members engaged to securely and officially voting during virtual meetings.
Here’s what we’ve learned.
Virtual meetings are here to stay
Of course, online meetings were already on the map before public health recommendations required us to meet virtually instead of in person. However, don’t expect your board, committee, and organization members to eagerly return exclusively to face-to-face meetings when it’s safe to do so – virtual meetings are here to stay.
According to 96 percent of respondents in an Owl Labs survey, video conferencing is effective for improving connectedness. According to a lifesize survey, video conferencing reduces the time to complete projects and tasks while increasing engagement with colleagues and collaborators.
We developed our live meeting voting software DirectVoteLive (DVL) based on member organizations’ unique needs and requests. We experienced unprecedented need and demand for DVL during the pandemic.
DVL allows associations, cooperatives, credit unions, HOAs, clubs, law firms, unions, and more to conduct secure, official votes in real-time during any remote meeting. Organizations can run their meeting on any online conferencing service (such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, etc.) to run alongside DVL. Roll call can be taken quickly and officially recorded and meeting participants can read, review and vote on meeting action items anywhere from any device.
Meeting organizers can easily set up custom meetings and send email or text invitations and add or change motions in real time, as they come up during the meeting. If your organization is still relying on unofficial, insecure free polling software (or voice votes) during board, committee and/or member meetings, this is the time to implement an official solution for your future online meetings.
All organizations need to offer an opportunity to vote online
We work with newly established member organizations and organizations that are more than a century old. Regardless of when an organization was founded, it’s important to recognize that member demographics, needs and requirements evolve.
We regularly hear from long-established organizations that their younger members request the ability to vote in elections online and interact digitally. Organizations uninterested in offering electronic voting options are at risk of losing those votes, if not the younger members altogether.
For other organizations, their bylaws or state laws do not allow for online voting. This has presented challenges for those organizations hoping to offer an online voting option. If this sounds like your organization, this is the year to work with your board and bylaws committee to amend the bylaws to allow for remote voting.
There’s no need to move your election entirely online, though it is a secure option many organizations have embraced. As long as your bylaws allow for it, you can add online voting as an option as part of your hybrid election – utilizing paper ballots, phone ballots, mail-in ballots and/or online voting.
In addition to restrictions on and concerns about in-person voting events, why offer an online voting option?
- It increases voter participation. When you give members a simple way to vote anywhere, any time from any device, they return the favor by voting. Member organizations have seen their voter participation double – or more – by offering an online voting option.
- Member satisfaction increases. Not only are members more satisfied with your organization’s election when you offer an online voting option, but they are more satisfied with the organization as a whole.
- It saves money. Many organizations see significant savings when they reduce or eliminate the need for design, printing, and mailing of ballots and collateral materials.
If you have questions about offering online voting or are wondering how you can implement it for your organizations, contact us. We know this is a complicated issue and we can answer many of your questions and help you demonstrate to others in your organization why it’s an important area of focus.
DirectVote is our managed election services platform that supports any number of voters, utilizes the highest encryption and security levels, and hundreds of member organizations count on it for certified, accurate election results. The app is fully accessible, offers comprehensive, detailed reporting, and a completely auditable process. We utilize enterprise-level security and a robust IT infrastructure to protect the election and secure all data..
We are with you every step of the way. Working with DirectVote is working with SBS. We offer full-service support for whatever you might need, every step of the way.
For smaller organizations seeking DIY elections, we also offer myDirectVote – a self-administered online voting platform.
We are here to help
The world is still in the midst of a global pandemic, and we are still here to help your organization continue to run safe, secure and official meetings and elections.
If your organization needs assistance, contact us any time.