Success Story: NRTC
When the pandemic stopped in-person voting at their annual meeting, NRTC needed a solution that would match, and hopefully improve on, their previous election format – and they needed it quickly. NRTC turned to SBS and, today, their election process is stronger and more robust than ever before.
NRTC was founded in 1986 by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), multiple electric cooperatives and the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC). NRTC identifies valuable technologies, develops these technologies into solutions and then helps bring these innovative solutions to their electric and telephone members in rural America. Today, NRTC services more than 1,500 rural utilities and affiliates in 48 states.
For more than 30 years, NRTC required voters to attend their annual meeting in person to complete a paper ballot with a pencil. Only real-time, in-person voting was allowed on the day of the meeting, no other voting options existed.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, NRTC was left scrambling to find an alternative to allow their members to vote when face-to-face opportunities were not possible. NRTC leadership talked to their cooperative members and discovered many of them trust SBS with their elections, so they felt comfortable moving forward with SBS to find a solution to provide members a new way to vote.
NRTC and SBS worked together to determine the online election voting platform was a good solution for their situation. myDirectVote allowed for more flexibility for members to vote when they are unable to attend the annual meeting in person — and even before the pandemic many were not doing so.
Results and Benefits
“For us, internally, this is a lot less stress and workload,” said Chris Martin, vice president, member and industry relations, NRTC. “We had more people participate in the electronic voting than we did with in-person; that’s success to us! The fact that we’re doing it again even when we can have an in-person meeting and don’t have to have an electronic option says how satisfied we are with the process.”
Chris said he and his team could see that nothing they brought to SBS was a surprise or a concern and there was a solution for every nuance of the election. “These are our members, not our customers. We have to do it right. It has to be thorough, above board and legitimate. SBS can accommodate everything,” he said. “We could see your experience and knowledge. It gave us a great level of comfort.”
Chris describes SBS as a friendly, competent, thorough, flexible partner. Most importantly, said Chris, “It was clear that you were not our vendors, you’re our partners. You care about the election going well as much as we do.”
Not only will NRTC continue to offer an online voting option to its members in future elections, it will take advantage of other tools and services provided by SBS, including email tracking and sending confirmation emails upon registration.
For other member organizations considering adding an online voting option to their election, Chris offers some advice:
- Emails are essential. Personalize them as much as possible and take advantage of the SBS email tools and process. Also communicate directly from your organization to help ensure members receive emails.
- Over communicate. Clearly explain to your constituents the process, what to expect on what day and how to resolve any issues.
- Leave enough time in the process to address issues. No matter what you do to prepare, there will always be a few member voters who will be confused or will make mistakes. Leave yourself time to help them so they don’t get left out.