This blog post was prepared by guest blogger Tim Madsen of Survey & Ballot Systems.
A cooperative, by definition, is an association of people voluntarily united to meet a common goal through democratic process and voluntary membership. Democratic cooperative governance requires an elected board that sets policies and makes decisions that are in the best interest of its members. In order for this to happen, members must have the opportunity to participate in well-run, open elections.
Executing a cooperative election requires substantial staff time and energy. When planning your election, make sure to prepare your staff for the following tasks:
- Database Management. Designate staff or a partner to ensure that member information and contact numbers are up-to-date and current. Your election communications require accurate contact info to ensure deliverability of election messages.
- Coordinating Voting Materials. Assign a manager or agency dedicated to the content and design of ballot materials, including: nominee profiles, proposed policy/by-law changes, voting instructions and the ballot.
- Delivery of the Ballots. Ensuring voters receive their ballots is a critical part of the voting/election process. For an on-site election, make ready an area for voting and distribution of the ballots. For mail-in ballots, have your staff or vendor order mail materials, fill packets, arrange postage and place envelopes in the mail according to schedule. For online voting, ballot delivery will need to be coordinated with the database manager.
- Forming a Registration and Credentials Committee. Form a group that is responsible for facilitating on-site election and tabulation. This step includes checking-in members, passing out ballots and providing voting instructions.
- Analyzing Results. Arrange for a resource to be in charge of tabulating and reporting results. Instruct this party to pay close attention to security and confidentiality of the ballots.
Facilitating a well-run cooperative election is no small task – but when assessing the potential risks associated with poorly run elections with the rewards of a well-run election, the choice is clear:
Low voter turnout -> unengaged members -> discontent & speculation
Increased voter turnout -> engaged members -> stronger cooperative
About Survey & Ballot Systems
Since 1990, Survey & Ballot Systems (SBS) has been helping cooperatives connect with their members through efficient and fair elections. Commitment to data security and individualized design, combined with unparalleled customer service, has made SBS a trusted partner in election management. SBS election services include: traditional paper ballot elections, online voting, telephone voting and hybrid voting systems. If your organization could benefit from conducting the highest quality election available, with guaranteed and certified results, make sure to visit www.surveyandballotsystems.com for more information.