Simplified events from start to finish
Coops and credit unions often hold events in which members are called upon to cast a vote, whether it be during an election for leadership or at an Annual General Meeting. Many Coops and Credit Unions are considering continuing to hold virtual and hybrid events using online voting technology to increase transparency, to maintain membership trust, and to increase participation.
Luckily, organizing any decision-making event with online voting follows a simple process. Beyond ensuring that your coop or credit union allows for the use of online voting technology in its bylaws, it is simply a matter of planning the event and getting ready for the big day. In fact, some of the steps, like creating the ballots or agenda, are very similar to the planning processes of a paper-based voting event but are streamlined thanks to the use of technology.
That said, there are likely a few steps that you may not have considered in regard to planning an online vote for your coop or credit union, so let’s take a look at what it entails.
Is online voting allowed in your coop or credit union?
Your first step in planning an event with online voting is to verify that your credit union or coop has the necessary bylaws or rules to accommodate online voting technology used in elections and meetings. While your coop or credit union may not have bylaws that directly prohibit the use of such technology, some might inadvertently make the implementation of online voting difficult.
For example, your bylaws may dictate that voting can only proceed if a certain quorum of members is physically present in person at a given meeting. If you wish to hold a virtual or hybrid meeting with online voting, this bylaw will need to be adjusted to account for members who are in attendance but not physically present.
Amending Bylaws and Rules
If there are bylaws that prevent online voting, then you likely need to amend them in order to proceed with your event. The amendment process should be specified within the bylaws themselves, and typically consists of approaching leadership and conducting a vote.
Creating an up-to-date voter list
In an online voting event, your voter list will need to be accurate and complete with voters’ information so that they can receive the necessary materials for voting online. This information often includes an email address and/or telephone number, as well as a personal ID or membership number.
Sending the voting credentials
When the voter list is complete, each voter will receive their credentials for securely logging on to the voting portal or online meeting agenda via postal mail, email, or SMS. Typically, your online voting provider will manage the credential generation and distribution, so you have nothing to worry about.
Generating the online ballots and agenda
Before the event, you will also need to create the ballots or agenda items. This should be as simple as filling in a form with the necessary information, such as candidate names or agenda item topics and questions.
Before procuring an online voting solution, ensure that it offers the kinds of voting questions and answers that your event requires, such as simple selection, multiple selection, or free text. Your solution should also be able to accommodate various voting methods, including preferential and weighted voting, if necessary.
The Big Day
When the voting period is open, voters can log on to the voting portal or access the meeting agenda using their previously sent credentials. Voting is as easy as choosing your preferred candidate(s) or option(s), confirming your choice, and casting your ballot. If you are organizing a meeting with online voting, you can either choose to open all agenda items for voting at once, or one at a time.
After the event, each ballot is securely decrypted, preserving each voter’s anonymity, and is automatically counted. Results can then be verified by the relevant election committee and published online for members to see, if required.
Verifying the vote
Every process of the event can be verified by third-party auditors, if necessary. Voters can also individually verify that their ballot was correctly cast by using a voting receipt sent to them just after voting.
Always remember that an online voting solution should not make your event more complicated or difficult to plan and manage. In fact, it should simplify every step. More complex or technical processes should be handled directly by your online voting provider. The best way to ensure a smooth and simple event is to choose an experienced provider with knowledge of the specific needs of coops and credit unions. With their help, you can be confident that your event will not only be streamlined, but also secure and transparent.
To learn more about Scytl’s online voting solutions for coops and credit unions, take a look at our brochure; to find our more about how coops and credit unions can benefit from online voting technology, you can read our previous article.