Unions constantly have to vote on factual issues. So does the Vereniging Nederlandse Verkeersvliegers (VNV), also known as Dutch ALPA (Airline Pilots Association). The Union is part of Dutch Airlines. Secretary General of the VNV Daan Zwart explains in the interview, how the voter turnout went up approximately 20% because of online voting.
In which way did you offer votings in the past?
VNV traditionally offered votings in written form. A paper ballot was sent to the (a part of) members and received back in provided special envelopes. The result was hand counted, since VNV has more than 5000 members, that‘s quite a job.
Why did you decide to offer online voting?
VNV has grown over the years. There are several partial and full votings throughout the year which took up more and more of secretarial capacity and out of pocket costs. Eventually we looked for a more efficient way to handle the votings.
What has changed?
Once the process is standardized, there is little effort to set up a voting. The receipt of the votes can be followed daily via a graph, but the voting itself remains secret. Once the voting is closed, the result is almost instantly processed as a pdf that can be shared.
How satisfied was your electorate with online voting?
Members have to get used to digitally voting. This means that one has to put effort in to help them using it. We send in advance an e-mail that the voting will start shortly and we assist them if they experience problems, if needed we can resent the e-mail with voting ID and password. A reminder a few days before the end of the voting also works very inspiring. The majority seems very satisfied with digital voting but there a also questions about used 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 look 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.