Election Security in Your Member Organization – Managing the ProcessMay 8, 2023
Election security preparedness is more important than ever. Organizing an election is an essential part of any membership organization nonprofit. Learning how to organize and manage elections will not only keep the transition of power smooth, it will also tighten security to ensure that the results are fair.
In nonprofit and for-profit organizations, digital elections and voting through the mail have become the standard. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has forced people to spend more time at home, online interactions have become the best way to keep organizations together.
Digital elections have changed the way election security operates. While voting over the internet makes it more convenient, it also opens elections to the possibility of cyber attacks. Hackers can use malicious software to infiltrate voting programs to manipulate results.
Due to these risks, organizations that hold their elections online must take cybersecurity precautions. These measures include ensuring the voting software is up to date and designed to the organization’s specifications. If a third party creates the voting system, organizers must know the vendor’s disaster recovery plan in case the system is compromised.
If most of an organization’s meetings and elections are held online, they must comply with the SOC 2 requirements set by The American Institute of CPAs. They created these compliances to ensure election security preparedness by introducing security standards.
Investing in cybersecurity solutions such as data encryption and multi-factor authentication is another way to ensure the safety of voter data. These programs can significantly minimize the chances of a data breach — and organizations that rely heavily on an online component would do well to implement them.
Managing an online election is similar to managing an in-person one but requires different tools. Unlike national elections, elections for nonprofit and for-profit organizations can follow any number of rules. While many of these rules are similar, some can be different depending on the nature of the organization in question.
Nonprofit organizations can hold elections with outright voting or ratifying candidates and decisions. Ratifying includes formally approving or rejecting leadership candidates members have voted on based on judgment criteria agreed on by current board members.
Both decision-making methods are entirely viable — choosing one or the other or a combination of both all depends on the organization’s needs.
There are many different types of voting procedures membership organization nonprofits can implement. Email is the most used method — organizers simply have to count the number of votes sent to them. Using a unique email address to collect votes is often the best way because it keeps everything simple for the organizers in charge of counting the ballots.
Another way to do online elections is through video conferencing. This option gives the election a more personal element. Members can discuss issues and candidates can share their stances so the organization can come to a complete consensus.
Both procedures have their advantages and disadvantages. For example, while email is the most convenient method, it can become problematic if the election requires a unanimous vote to conclude. Video conferencing can allow members to discuss and agree on the results of an election. However, it may be less convenient and requires more planning.
While online elections for membership organization nonprofits can be done by email or video conferencing programs, organizations can also opt to use online voting software. These programs are designed specifically to help organizations keep track of their votes and keep them organized.
These programs come with features that can give organizations more insight into votes, such as metrics and other forms of data collection. Groups can get a better understanding of show why members voted for a particular candidate or outcome. This kind of information can help make improvements to an organization if needed.
Online voting software comes equipped with several security features to keep votes safe. Organizations have the option to make voting anonymous if needed. These types of software can be used alongside other tools like video conferencing to facilitate a more comprehensive election process.
Maintaining election security preparedness in online voting is essential for membership organizations, nonprofits and for-profits. Investing in specialized voting software and cybersecurity programs can help elections remain fair and unbiased. Keeping online voting fair will ensure the integrity of any organization.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shannon Flynn is a tech writer who covers topics like cloud computing, business technology, and data. You can find her work on Hackernoon, Cybint Solutions, Irish Tech News, and ReHack.com. Visit ReHack for other trending tech topics covered by Shannon.