What is Hybrid Voting and How Can It Benefit Your Member Organization?
People not familiar with member organizations may be surprised by how many of them still conduct their elections only using paper ballots. In the era of virtual meetings and digital everything else, it’s still very common for member organizations of all sizes to accept only in-person voting or mail-in paper ballots.
At the same time, one of the top questions we get here at Survey & Ballot Systems (SBS) is, “How can we get more of our members to participate in our elections?” The obvious answer is, of course, to give members more opportunities to vote and make it more convenient.
When we mention online voting, many organizations balk at the prospect of their members voting digitally, imagining having to navigate all the technology hurdles while fielding calls from angry members, confused about how they can cast their ballot.
But there’s an in-between option – something that provides the best of both worlds!
Hybrid voting. With a hybrid voting model, you can still offer in-person and mail-in ballots, if desired, but you can also implement a simple, secure online option. Giving members the opportunity to vote online if they’d like, is a foolproof way to make voting more convenient and increase election participation.
Not sure if adding an online component for a hybrid election is right for your organization? You can start here by taking our quiz!
Some of the many benefits of making your elections hybrid include:
- Reduced costs for printing, mailing and staff time
- Making voting more convenient for all members
- opening up voting opportunities for members unable to get to in-person balloting sites for any reason and those who forget about or never get around to returning those paper ballots in the mail
- Give members a way to cast their ballots immediately with technology like embedded login links – an email invitation with a unique, automatically authenticated link they can click to go directly to their ballot
- When members share their email information with you so they can vote online, it opens the door to amazing communication opportunities such as email election reminders. Our research has found that each round of participation reminders can increase voter turnout up to 5 percent and multiple reminders are most effective.
- Single Sign-On technology to allow members to securely login to access their ballot without having to remember a password or complicated login procedure.
- Your members are already using social media. Adding an online voting component allows your members to share information about the election via social media, increasing reach with other members and allowing you another tool to communicate with members and keep them engaged
When you work with an experienced election partner like SBS, you benefit from decades of knowledge and someone who can be with you through the entire process – from approaching your board with the idea to tabulation and analysis of election results.
In general, the process to introduce a hybrid voting option is similar for most organizations.
- Check your bylaws. If they do not explicitly allow for an online election, hybrid voting may be allowed without amending the bylaws.
- Work with an experienced partner who provides the highest level of online encryption technology and who will host your election website in a secure server environment only accessible to authorized members. Ask them how they are preventing any unauthorized access.
- Communicate with all your members. Reassure members that in-person and/or mail-in voting is available to them as it always has been. Explain the steps to take if they are interested in casting their ballot online. Detail all security measures and explain the benefits to the organization of offering a hybrid election.
Many of our member organization partners have seen an increase – sometimes a very substantial increase – in voter participation after they give members the option to vote online. It is not uncommon to see double digit increases in the number of ballots cast and a large number of ballots being cast online.
Making elections more accessible to members is always a win-win.
Safe and secure, convenient and cost-effective, hybrid elections are an ideal solution for member organizations looking to increase voter participation and engage members. Have questions about hybrid voting or not sure how it can be implemented within your organization? Contact us any time, we’re here to help.