Many types of organisations run ballots and elections, such as professional bodies, cooperatives, sports clubs, societies, charities, trade associations and labour unions, public companies (PLCs), etc. This will be for a variety of reasons, ranging from representation and legitimacy to governance, compliance and transparency. By conducting elections, organisations can ensure their members or shareholders have a voice in the decision-making process and helps build trust and confidence in a democratic process.
Election Provider (Independent Scrutineer)
Typically appointed by the organisation that wishes to undertake an election, an election provider is an organisation responsible for conducting, overseeing and monitoring the election process to ensure that it is fair, transparent, and free from any potential bias or conflicts of interest.
The election provider is responsible for certifying the final election results and ensuring that the results are communicated to the organisation in a timely and accurate manner. This usually includes tasks such as verifying voter eligibility, counting votes, investigating any complaints or irregularities and reporting on the overall integrity of the election process. By providing an independent and impartial service, the election provider can help prevent challenges or disputes related to the election process.
Deciding Which Election Provider to Use
The decision to continue with an election provider which has already been used for many years can be a very attractive proposition and easy decision to make, however in terms of good governance, risk mitigation and business continuity, this may not necessarily provide cover in the event of a low probability issue occurring, and another election provider being needed to assist at short notice. Therefore, having experience and a working relationship with at least 2 election providers is preferable with shared workloads being given to each.
This benefits the Organisation by making sure they know how each election provider operates, the processes and procedures are well tested, and in the event that one election provider cannot provide services then the other should be able to step in easily and effectively.
Therefore, before making a seemingly easy decision to continue with a sole election provider, decision-makers may need a business case for considering an alternative, with some justification and evidence to ensure the smooth running of the organisation.
An organisation should consider the following factors when deciding which election provider to use:
- Expertise: The organisation should look for an election provider with expertise in conducting election processes and a proven track record of conducting fair and impartial ballots.
- Cost: The organisation should consider the cost of the election provider’s services and ensure that they are within their budget.
- Security measures: The organisation should ensure that the election provider has robust security measures in place to protect the confidentiality and integrity of the ballot results, such as ISO27001.
- Ease of use: The organisation should consider the ease of use of the election provider’s systems and processes and ensure that they are user-friendly for both the organisation and its members.
- Reliability: The organisation should look for an election provider that is reliable and has a good reputation for delivering results promptly.
- Reputation: The organisation should consider the reputation of the election provider and their experience in conducting ballot processes for organisations.
- Contract terms: The organisation should carefully review the contract terms with the election provider to ensure that they are aligned with the organisation’s needs and expectations.
Ballot and election processes are critical in giving all members a voice and the ability to determine the key topics to focus on and allowing them to make key decisions. Best practice and good governance in running any organisation are to ensure business continuity and mitigate any risks:
- Redundancy: If the primary elections provider is unable to carry out the election, having a backup provider can ensure that the election can still proceed as planned. This can prevent delays or disruptions to the election process, which can be important if the election has a specific timeline.
- Risk Mitigation: By having a second backup elections provider, the organisation can mitigate the risk of any issues or conflicts of interest that may arise with the primary provider. This can help ensure the fairness and impartiality of the election process, which can be important for maintaining the trust and confidence of members in the organisation.
- Improved Competition: By having multiple election providers, the organisation can also encourage competition between them. This can lead to better pricing and services, which can benefit the organisation and its members in the long run.
Any new election provider should be assessed for production and operation capability, with due diligence undertaken assessing ISO standards for quality and data security along with determining the capacity, knowledge and skill set.
With a backup election provider selected, the organisation should establish a working relationship with them, so that in the unlikely event that issues arise, there is coverage to continue with their democratic processes.
Any new election provider could undertake a smaller election process at the outset so that internal members/stakeholders and the election provider can determine how they will work together to undertake a smooth election and ballots moving forward.
Having a backup elections provider can help ensure the integrity and efficiency of the election process for an organisation and can provide a valuable safety net in case of any unexpected issues or conflicts. It makes sense to cover any risk with critical business processes undertaken, and it is recognised best practice and relates to good governance to do so.
Moreover, having multiple election providers also provides the organisation with the option to choose the best fit for their specific needs and budget, and to periodically assess and potentially switch between different providers if necessary. This helps to ensure that they are receiving the best possible service from their election provider/independent scrutineer.
UK Engage are an experienced election services provider, with a dedicated team of election professionals delivering elections daily. Both postal and online services can be provided as part of our ISO9001 and ISO27001 certifications. Contact us on 0161 209 4808 to discuss your needs.