Unions constantly have to vote on an arrray of issues. This is no different for the Vereniging Nederlandse Verkeersvliegers (VNV), also known as Dutch ALPA (Airline Pilots Association), a union affiliated with Dutch Airlines. Secretary General of the VNV, Daan Zwart, explains in the interview how online voting helped boost the organization’s voter turnout by approximately 20%.
How have you conducted votes in the past?
VNV traditionally offered votings in written form. Paper ballots were sent to the members and received back in special envelopes provided. The result was hand-counted, which is quite a job given VNV has more than 5000 members.
Why did you decide to offer online voting?
VNV has grown over the years. Since there are several partial and full votings throughout the year, this took up more and more secretarial capacity and led to out of pocket expenses. Eventually we looked for a more efficient way to handle the votings.
What has changed?
Once the process is standardized, there is little effort involved in setting up an online vote. Voter turnout can be followed daily via a graph, whilst the way in which members voted remains secret. Once the voting period has ended, the results are almost instantly processed as a pdf that can be shared.
How satisfied was your electorate with online voting?
Members need to get used to voting digitally. This means that one has to put effort in to helping them navigate the process. We send an e-mail in advance notifying that the vote will soon commence, and we assist members if they experience problems. If needed we can re-sent the e-mail with voting ID and password. A reminder a few days before the end of the voting also provides inspiration for members to participate. The majority of our members seem very satisfied with digital voting but there are also questions about underlying technique and privacy.
Are you satisfied with the flexibility of the POLYAS voting system?
So far yes. The setup of POLYAS is fast and the interface easy. The support team is swift, polite and personal, the response accurate. What I especially appreciate is that colleagues seamlessly replace each other, so as customer you don’t end up with communication problems.
How has online voting affected your voter turnout?
At this moment we have experienced a handful of votings and in every session the responses went up approximately 20%.
Would VNV conduct your future elections online with POLYAS?
The first results are promising. It’s seems that we’ve found the more efficient way to handle votings though on one hand we are still tweaking the setup and (technical) logistics and on the other hand looking carefully at the costs of digital voting. Since VNV regularly has smaller votings, there is still some adjustment to do to the pricing to stay interested. But the experience is that POLYAS is willing to think with the customer, so I have faith there will be space to work that out together.