Making it simple for members to participate in co-operative elections

The transparency of an election is crucial to its credibility, especially when it comes to co-operatives.  By their very nature a co-operative is close to its members’ hearts, as they work together towards a common goal.    Confidence in the process and organiser is fundamental to its success. For this reason co-ops must ensure that internal elections are transparent, secure and open to all members.

UK Engage takes a quick look at three ways to ensure co-operative elections are transparent and secure.

Communicate extensively to all members:

In order to allow your members to participate in the decision making process, your election should have a pre-election engagement strategy.  For members to be fully involved in the process they first have to know about it.  Sometimes, due to budget restrictions co-ops may take the decision to skip pre-nomination engagement, opting to communicate with members at the nomination stage.  Avoiding early engagement can often result in members using the nomination period to ask questions; using this time to learn about the election instead of becoming involved in the actual process by putting themselves forward for election.  Carefully planned communications, sent out via different channels, at critical points during your election timeline, will ensure that co-ops increase the number of members they communicate with, in a timely, organised fashion.

Incorporate more than one ballot method:

Making ballots more accessible is a key sign that a cooperative is putting its members first. These days, the majority of cooperatives do not restrict voting to ‘in person at the AGM.’ Making voting easy will clearly have a positive impact on your voter turnout.  E-voting and postal ballots mean that members do not have to attend AGMs to vote in order to participate.  In addition, many modern e-voting systems, like the platform employed by UK Engage, have security and audit functions.  For example, the transmission of e-votes is encrypted in much the same way as a credit card transaction and for auditing purposes, are able to show exactly when a vote has been cast, combatting the myth that online voting isn’t secure. Demographics also play a part in the ballot method.  Combining e-voting with a traditional ballot will ensure that members receive the ballot method that is suitable for them.

Ensure your election provider meets your security requirements:

In any voting process member data must remain private and secure, this is often one of the reasons co-operatives will handle the process ‘in house.’ However, outsourcing to a reputable administrator who has robust security procedures, like ISO 27001:2013 – Information Security, can give you peace of mind that security of your election data will be paramount.

Specialist election providers can also offer the following benefits: –

  • An election process that is fully auditable
  • Ballot information is identifiable throughout the process
  • A dedicated staff member is on hand for potential e-voting technical queries
  • Watertight election results, plus count and verification procedures

Contact UK Engage:
Tel: 0161 209 4808
Email: enquiries@uk-engage.org

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