If you are on the electoral management committee, there is no shortage of things to do. You will normally have to plan meticulously, juggle a number of functions and keep a cool head. Sometimes it can be a problem if a lot of people are involved in the planning process. After all, too many cooks spoil the broth.
To avoid situations like this it is advisable not only to appoint an election coordinator but also to set up an electoral committee that is responsible for all aspects of electoral planning, organisation and execution.
Nonetheless, you should inform all the key players (in advance) of every important measure that you are taking in the run-up to the election. Even if it involves extra time and effort, you should consider the needs and wishes of all those directly or indirectly affected by the election. If you do not, you may find yourself and others discussing matters of principle on the day of the election itself, which will torpedo the successful conduct of the ballot.
So always safeguard yourself by getting all those involved on board – especially the “stakeholders”.
Stakeholders and why they are important for elections
What are stakeholders?
“Stakeholder” is a buzzword that may require clarification:
A “stakeholder” is someone who holds a stake in something, a person who has a specific interest in, or influence over, a particular project, process or result.
A stakeholder does not need to be an individual. It can also be a group of people such as the neighbours or an environmental association. The board or committee of a group is also an important stakeholder in all decisions being taken in the association, for example.
Who are these stakeholders?
Anyone who has a justifiable interest in, or any kind of influence on, the impending election can be considered one or your stakeholders. Stakeholders might be the individual candidates up for election, the association’s admin staff or management, or honorary members, patrons, friends and media representatives.
How much effort should be put into getting stakeholders on board?
Do not go to too much trouble, but make sure that each person is in possession of all necessary information in good time. There are a number of ways to achieve this:
- Notification by email or post
Send all stakeholders regular updates on election preparations. These can be kept short and pitchy.
- Telephone calls
These can be useful when important decisions have to be made or when communicating with the more influential stakeholders (e.g. candidates). When important issues are being aired, it is always advisable to have a brief conversation.
- Be reachable
Always give the recipients of your updates a way of contacting you. Never tire of reminding people that they can get in touch at any time to find out what is going on.
- Press statements / press information
If the media is involved, put together a short, informative press release. Set down in writing a few pieces of background information that can be sent, if requested.
This “safeguard” is in no way designed to give someone preferential treatment; it only serves to prevent misunderstandings and to stimulate discussions on matters of principle early on in the planning process, discussions that may already be brewing and may include issues relating to electoral rules, organisational procedures and the association’s charter.
Because if everything has already been thought through and finalised, it can be expensive to start reconsidering issues and making changes.