Reduce your carbon footprint with online elections

Elections are not only expensive but often have a significant carbon footprint. Learn about how to reduce the environmental costs of your next election by switching from postal to online elections.

Nearly all institutions have some level of democracy built into them, from cooperatives and unions to companies and universities we live in an age of elections and democratic accountability. Board of directors need the support of their members or shareholders, students need to elect their representatives and bylaws changes often need to be ratified by the membership at large.

The impact on the environment can be staggering at times. Members and shareholders ultimately want to elect representatives with minimal fuss. Postal voting, therefore, emerged as a minimal effort alternative to traditional ballot box voting. Many institutions remain happy with this voting procedure for its ability to bridge the gap between convenience and familiarity.

There are, however, a few downsides: the cost, the effort involved and the impact on the environment.

The Carbon Footprint of Postal Voting

In a study conducted by POLYAS in cooperation with Micromata, we found that traditional postal voting produced up to 54 times the amount of CO2 than POLYAS’ online elections. The study compared elections with an electoral roll of 36,798 voters. Both elections were conducted with the same parameters to compare total CO2 emissions.

For the postal election, voters received and returned their physical election documents by mail. In comparison, voters for the online election received their credentials and notifications digitally. They then were able to cast their ballots in a certified, secure online election system.

The results were established taking into account the Creation and printing of election documents, the sending of election documents by post, the return send of election documents by post and finally the impact of announcing the election result.

Voting Procedure Total Carbon Dioxide Emissions
Postal Voting (Inc. creation, printing, sending and return of election documents and the disclosure of election result) 2999.363 (Kg)
Online Election (Inc. sending of election documents digitally, voting online and disclosure of result)  55.363 (Kg)

Click here for more information about the study comparing CO2 emissions from postal and online voting (PDF).

Financial Costs of Postal Voting 

It is clear that online elections have a far smaller carbon footprint. There is no paper needing to be produced and printed. Ballots do not need accompanying instructions and separate envelopes to ensure a secure election. Individual ballots do not need to be shipped and announcements do not need to be made to each individual member.

Not only are online elections better for the environment, they also help to reduce the costs of setting up, managing and holding all types of elections. Postal voting is always more expensive, with the cost of postage alone being higher than the average cost per voter.

Online elections require far less effort to set up. Simply create a ballot, upload an electoral roll and set the date of the election. Nor do you need to unpack and count individual ballots by hand or hire a counting machine. Our online system manages this process quickly and efficiently for you.

We all need to reduce our carbon footprint. With the added bonus of being cheaper and far less hassle, why not  learn more about online voting?

Contact us for a free quote for your next election