Imagine the following election scenario…You have worked for months putting together your organization’s election. You established a budget, updated the member database, prepared your staff, administered the nominations process, promoted the election, and selected how your members will participate. Additionally, your candidates have been hard at work composing their mission statements, completing their biographical information, campaigning for their positions and answering questions from members on why they would make great leaders.
Election day rolls around and since you chose to hold your election online, you anxiously anticipate receiving the email announcing that polls are open and members may begin casting their web ballots. You wait and wait, but that announcement never hits your inbox. It turns out that the election vendor you hired to help with the election just suffered a power outage; the election site is down and the emails never deployed because of a power failure at the server location.
What would you do? How would you break the news to candidates? How would you support your members? Would you make an announcement? What would your board say about the situation?
This situation highlights the reason why you need to carefully research potential election vendors and ask what business continuity and disaster preparedness plans they have in place in case of an emergency.
Your election partner should have detailed, documented procedures that outline exactly what will happen in case of a disaster. These fail safes and plans protect your data, keep voting running smoothly and help YOU stay out of hot water with your members and board.
Key elements of business continuity and disaster preparedness plans include:
- Strategies for backup and data co-location via an enterprise level data center
- Quality control procedures for precision and reliability
- A plan for seamless, uninterrupted power in case of disaster
- A secure exchange method for transmitting sensitive files and data
- A modern web framework for accurate data capture and monitoring web voting
Remember that handling voting information, data and how your election is run is serious business. You need to take steps to ensure that members’ voting experience and your process is protected. If something does go wrong, members may lose trust not only in the election but in the organization itself.
Every so often, we will hear from the member-organization community that “there isn’t a big difference” between election providers and the services they offer. As you see in the example above, the vendor selected can make a big impact on member voting and how smoothly an election operates.
Don’t take the security and backup of your election for granted. Ask your potential partner how your online election will be handled and the steps that will be used to protect your voting in case of an emergency.
Comments? Questions? Tips on how you have helped ensure disaster preparedness for your election? Let us know in the comments below. Learn more about how Survey & Ballot Systems employs leading security to protect our clients’ elections and voting events.