Increasing voter turnout is always a problem with democratic institutions. But despite low participation rates, you can still activate the majority of non-voters. In the first of two parts on increasing Democratic participation in institutional elections, you can learn about how online elections can help.
The Impact on Democracy
Reduced turnout ultimately has the impact of reducing the legitimacy of any elected representative. This ranges from the president of a country to a treasurer of a social club. Regardless of the size or type of election, a low turnout can be severely damaging to the morale of the election organizers and membership base alike.
Turnout can often feel like it is representative of how much your membership base cares about the goings on in your institution. However, low voter turnout is often more related to the ease of access, members’ busy schedules and the time and effort involved with voting.
Ease of Access & Effort
Improving access is the easiest way of looking at increasing voter turnout. The simplest way is by providing more voting options.This can help to drastically as voters are, for the most part, willing to embrace procedures designed to make their lives easier.
Elections are traditionally done with a paper ballot and a permanent pen or marker. Voters used to be required to go to a polling place, normally their local office, to cast their votes. While cheap and convenient for the institution is highly impractical for most voters.
Traditional Voting procedures, Costs vs Increasing Voter Turnout
This election system comes from the system still used by most national and elections. Ultimately, the emphasis is placed on the voter to show an interest in the democratic process. As we will talk about next time, this requires you as an election organizer, to create a sense of excitement and interest in your upcoming election. Members need to take time out of their day to vote, which today, seems like a tall order for most institutions. Postal voting is significantly more expensive but has emerged as the preferred voting procedure for most institutions.
Postal voting is an obvious improvement on most in person elections. However, Postal voting is significantly more expensive for the institution. Postal election requires larger quantities of paper need to be supplied and printed. This is due to the dual envelope system needed for a fully secret ballot as well as detailed voting instructions. This is in addition to the cost of postage on top of the raw material costs. While increasing voter turnout, postal elections generally cost more than in person voting.
Online Voting Provides the Perfect Balance
Online elections have emerged in recent years and have proven themselves secure and able to stand up to legal validation. They present, therefore the perfect solution to replace, or where money is not an issue, work alongside traditional voting procedures. Voting online is far cheaper than postal and in-person voting and provides the most voter-friendly experience, taking mere minutes to cast one’s vote successfully. Voting online minimises the ‘effort’ involved from the electorate’s perspective to a bare minimum.
Next week we will cover how you can increase your voter turnout with marketing, reminders and communication with your voters.