Specialty Votes and How to Handle Them

Specialty VotesElection planning, set-up, voting, ballot counting and certification – although no two votes are the same, many elections are run in a very similar fashion. Sometimes, however, circumstances arise that require specialty votes.

Here’s what you need to know:

Mergers and acquisitions
Discussions regarding a merger or acquisition can last for months, or even years, before an agreement between the boards is reached. However, when the organizations come to a merger agreement, they must turn to their respective members to approve the proposed change.

Mergers and acquisitions usually require a certain quorum per the bylaws, but this will vary from organization to organization. Some required quorums can be significantly higher than the average response rate for an organization’s election. This means the organization(s) will need to increase their communication efforts in order to get their members to cast a ballot.

It’s important for organizations to be clear with members that a merger or acquisition is not a done deal until it is approved by member votes. Be sure to have a plan to promote and communicate the vote because neither organization will want to risk seeing the merger fail due to an unreached quorum.

Bylaw votes
All member organizations have bylaws that govern the organization and how it is run. It’s important to know the existing bylaws as they will likely impact how your organization can approve new bylaws. There are two main ways bylaws are generally put onto a ballot:

  • One massive bylaw change with a yes/no vote for everything
  • Each bylaw change listed individually on the ballot with the option for yes/no voting for each change

Often, new bylaws are approved by the majority of those who vote, but be sure to know your existing bylaws regarding approval and quorum.

Capital sales
When the subject of a capital sale is put on the ballot, it is commonly accompanied by a “pros and cons” section highlighting the important factors to consider when deciding to approve. This section also often includes a board recommendation on whether or not to approve the sale.

Capital sales votes are frequently run similarly to bylaw approvals.

Runoff elections
Before your election, it is important to be aware of your organization’s runoff policy and be prepared to communicate to candidates in a timely manner. In the event of a tie, or if more than two candidates are running and no candidate receives a majority, a runoff election is often necessary.

Depending on existing bylaws, a runoff can be determined by anything from a coin flip to a re-vote, so it’s vital to have this information on hand and be prepared for any election outcome. Your candidates and your members will appreciate your swift, confident response.

Changing charters
Charter changes are primarily associated with credit unions and are often votes to establish who can be a member of the organization.

By and large these decisions are usually to expand the charter to include more potential eligible members and must be voted on by the current membership.

Depending on bylaws, different methods – including paper, web and even voice votes — may be used to vote on charter changes.

Not every election is as simple as choosing one winner from a slate of candidates – atypical circumstances call for special elections expertise and in-depth knowledge. With our 25 years of experience handling all of the scenarios above and more, you can be sure that your next specialty election is run flawlessly. Have questions about your organization’s specialty vote? Let us know. We’re here to help.