Member-based organizations hold annual elections for myriad reasons: choosing new board members, internal referendums, union contracts, and much more. The overarching goal of any type of election is complete satisfaction among members and ensuring the integrity of the vote.
Even the slightest hint of skepticism can erode a member’s confidence in an organization’s ability to manage such a significant event, which can have consequences far beyond the election itself. Not only that, there may be no other choice but to hold a redo—a costly endeavor that could negatively impact moral.
The best way to avoid such problems—and wasteful spending—is to ensure elections are secure from the outset and results are beyond reproach.
While nothing in life is perfect, reputable election vendors often boast internal systems that protect votes and prevent malicious acts. What does that mean in practice? Let’s discuss.
Prioritizing Election Security
Any serious commitment to election security must start from up top. Everyone in an organization—regardless of its type or size—should understand that protecting ballots and preserving the fairness of an election takes precedence. And they need to have confidence in an election management company’s ability to protect the entire process, from start to finish.
Hosting these all-important contests isn’t easy, since they require much more than simply setting up a ballot box, commencing with voting, and verifying results.
This means the vendor would provide a secure site where members can select who they believe should run, and candidates themselves can safely upload and save biographical information and other relevant materials, such as headshots.
Once that’s complete, both physical and digital copies of ballots will be safely stored until they’re distributed, either by traditional mail or to member emails.
One of the most important aspects of any election is choosing a voting method. The most common options are over the internet, by mail, phone, in-person, or hybrid variations. Due to the ubiquity of digital devices, internet voting has become more popular, and is often the preferred choice among voting bodies, especially for those conscious of cost. However, regardless of how voting is conducted, there are industry-recognized practices that should be followed.
Secret Ballots & Verified Votes
This is going to seem like a simple concept, but trust us when we say single vote verification is a vital tool in any vendor’s arsenal.
Essentially, this is the process by which an election specialist cross-references a voter’s ballot with a list of eligible members to ensure they only cast a single vote.
Depending on the company managing the contest, this kind of verification system can be used during all types of elections. And in the rare case someone tries to cast a duplicate vote, only their first ballot would be counted.
To protect the identity of members, an election service may make it impossible for their specialists to actually see how a member voted. This is to ensure that a member’s ballot remains private at all times, from the moment they receive it in the mail or online, to the time their vote is formally cast.
In reality, the only identifiable information they would have is the list of members that they use to prevent duplicate votes.
If you’re in the market for a new vendor, you’d also want to know whether or not they have a backup system in place, on the rare occasion there’s a main server failure.
Above all else, you want to be able to say that final vote tabulations are 100-percent accurate, which both justifies your investment in a vendor and instills greater confidence among members.
An election management company that provides the above services should have no problem ensuring your election is secure and that member data is protected. Having a secure system in place and trusting the people you hire to get the job done, without any hiccups, is one of the most important facets of a successful election.