This section shares some ideas about how a VOPE could run its process for the nominating, voting and appointing of Board members, with some suggestions regarding software that could be used, as well as some examples of how VOPEs have done this previously.
A VOPE is usually governed by a Board selected by the VOPE members from nominated individuals within the organization. . The constitution for the VOPE typically contains an explanation of how the leadership and governance structure works. It usually outlines eligibility criteria for Board membership and procedures for nomination, voting, and election to these positions, including the term of office for each position. (link here to 1.2 Founding a VOPE - Constitution). The voting administration process should manage the nomination, voting and appointment of Board members.
The election and voting process can be administered during a members’ meeting, such as an AGM, however since many VOPEs have geographically-dispersed members, they opt to administer their elections electronically using online voting administration systems. The elections process usually consists of four steps:
For voting administration systems, a VOPE generally has two options available. On option is that the election and voting process can be conducted during a membership meeting, such as an AGM, where members can nominate and vote with the show of hands, ballot papers or electronic input devices. Nominations can be made and confirmed during the meeting or before the meeting. If the nomination process is completed before the meeting, ballot papers can be printed for voting. In paper-based voting systems, votes are cast and counted by hand.
Alternatively, these systems can include an electronic input device and votes counted electronically. Online voting (also known as e-voting) uses electronic systems to aid in the call for nominations, casting and counting votes. A list of members should be available to enable members to have information on who can be nominated. Once the nomination period has expired, the nominated candidates should confirm that they are prepared to serve as a Board member. At this point, information about the candidates can be published on the website or through relevant email communication. Once the voting is declared open, members can cast their votes electronically using computers / smart phones up to the time the voting is closed. The system should have additional functionality to ensure that members are eligible to vote and can vote only once. Votes are counted electronically, the results published and members appointed. All this can be done via the VOPE website if the functionality is included in the design of the website.
The two administration systems (supervised or remote) have different costs. Administering the voting through a meeting may appear low cost but more time and effort is required in supervising and counting votes. Members may also incur travel costs. An e-voting system may require an upfront fee but can save time in administration and counting. Consequently, the total cost of operating the voting administration system needs to be considered right from the start.
The voting administration system should allow the VOPE to:
It is imperative that the steps for managing the system be clearly documented, for transparency and since turnover in staff is likely. Standard operating procedures for administering the voting process should be developed, clearly stipulating tasks, processes, roles and responsibilities.