How can an online voting system or electronic voting system help a housing cooperative? Obviously, such systems can facilitate the management of a cooperative by streamlining the election of co-op directors and by ensuring compliance with cooperative election rules and guidelines.
But for many co-ops, particularly smaller co-ops, it’s hard to justify the investment in an online or electronic voting system when it takes only a minute or two to count a show of hands.
But every co-op board runs into voting situations that are more nuanced. Sooner or later, co-op members will be asked to need to vote on more than just the composition of the co-op board. There may be questions of updates or improvements to the community, questions of how to use funds in the community coffers—particularly when a community reaches a stage where many of its outstanding debts have been paid off. These questions may be slightly complicated. Or, there may be multiple potential resolutions for a given question. Either way it becomes harder both to present co-op members with the questions and to tally and track the hands that are raised in response.
Says one co-op housing director, “when the matters are complicated and the show of hands votes appear close, we often have to re-vote by hand—sometimes two or three times. We’ve even had to resort to a manual ‘standing vote count’ at times. First, those who are For the resolution stand and are counted. Then, they sit down and all those who are Against the resolution stand up to be counted. This can take anywhere from 5 – 15 minutes.”
Electronic voting systems can solve these problems easily. The board can put the options to be considered on an agenda in the voting software, making it easy for all members to see the options and understand the issues. Using a voting solution such as the EZ-VOTE Connect audience response system, co-op members can vote simultaneously, which avoids the need to count each show of hands in support of a given option in a sequential manner—and the tally of their votes can appear in real time anonymously, or identifying each voting member and how they voted. What might have taken 15 minutes can take place in seconds—and the electronic approach ensures that co-op members don’t inadvertently raise their hands more than once in support of a given measure.