Virtual Voting Tools
Virtual meetings now seem like a normal part our day to day working lives. With social distancing measures and limits on indoor gatherings, as well as the Welsh Government still encouraging organisations to take reasonable measures to allow staff to work from home, it may be some time before we return to wider face-to face and boardroom meetings.
Many organisations will therefore likely need to turn to virtual AGM’s, for example, for the foreseeable future. Whilst most elements of such meetings can be facilitated virtually fairly easily, the process of voting could cause some practical issues that need consideration. An AGM gives the directors and/or shareholder the opportunity to exercise their right to vote on key matters, so ensuring that there is a system in place that is secure and robust, whilst also being simple and convenient to use, is essential to a successful vote.
In some cases, a vote could be carried out by simply raising a virtual hand or even through postal voting. However, there may be scenarios where such traditional methods are not appropriate and other options may have to be considered. There are a variety of online voting tools available that enables users to easily create an online vote that allows votes to be submitted remotely.
When looking at possible options for an online voting system, some of the main elements to consider may be;
- Cost: Some systems offer a monthly or annual subscription that allows a set or unlimited number of votes during that period. If there are only a few matters to vote on however, a system with a one-off payment per vote maybe more economical. The pricing on most systems is based on the number of voters.
- Voter anonymity: If a vote is to elect a board member, for example, votes may need to be submitted anonymously.
- Security and voter auditing: Making sure that voting is only open to those who are eligible. Many online tools offer this by assigning a unique code which is sent to each voter to enable them to log-in and submit their vote. These unique codes can then be verified when viewing the results (without compromising anonymity).
- Simplicity: Having a system that is intuitive and simple to use for both the administrator and voter. In the event of a tied vote, for example, it may be that a second vote will need to be held at short notice. Many systems also offer optional features such as weighted voting for such scenarios.
The WSA looked at some examples of the systems available that offer the above features, including Choicevoting, Electionruner, Electionbuddy and eBallot. Simple user interfaces allow a vote to be created and tailored with relative ease, and votes can be submitted from various devices. Votes can be held in real time during a meeting, or held between any set dates.
As well as products that allow you to create and run your own online vote, some providers, such as Mi-Voice and UK-Engage are able to manage and run the whole process on an organisation’s behalf. Whilst such services certainly offer expertise and absolute independence (as well as saving time and energy for the administrator), the costs associated are likely to be greater than those self-service systems on offer.
The team at the WSA would be willing to discuss these systems, as well as support when selecting & scoping other digital solutions. Please contact the WSA team for further advice – https://wsa.wales/contact/