You may have been wondering, "Is there an easier way to conduct elections of our chapter officers and chairs?" And the answer is a resounding, "Probably." Electronic voting (aka: e-voting) may be what your chapter's been looking for.

For nearly all chapters, election procedures are at the discretion of the chapter's board of directors-so this article is not a mandate, just an opportunity to check out alternatives. Review your chapter's bylaws for specific election requirements, which are usually covered in articles three and seven.

Nearly all HFMA chapters' bylaws have a provision allowing elections via written ballot to be collected electronically. Yet for some, the classic, in-person vote is retained based on a perception of integrity, as a way to leverage meeting attendance, or simply because e-voting options have not been explored.

Streamline with E-Voting If you're looking to streamline the distribution, collection, and counting of ballots, consider writing-in e-voting to your election procedures, and if necessary, modify your bylaws.

There are two types of e-voting: supervised e-voting via designated machines at polling stations (perhaps stationed kiosks at your annual meeting) or unsupervised e-voting from remote locations such as a personal computer or smart phone via the Internet.

Whether you choose a vendor offering a bare-bones survey or a complex integrated election system, e-voting can provide automation, flexibility, and cost savings compared to collecting paper ballots.

Features vary from product-to-product and are most commonly related to manner of collection or customization level of the online polling place. We gathered information from a few election vendors and survey sites for you to consider.

Prices also vary widely, from free to annual subscriptions. Although most chapters won't send out enough ballots to justify large fees, we listed some of the specialty sites as a snapshot of what's available.

No matter how you conduct your chapter's elections, integrity is important. Start by making sure that you've gathered the proper member roster for distributing ballots (see our step-by-step guide to selecting the proper list from the Chapter Roster Center). It's worth noting that some folks have not supplied email addresses to HFMA, so review that chapter member roster and make arrangements to announce the election site or distribute ballots to those without emails in an alternate way. Vendors usually offer some kind of work-around to qualify voters without email addresses.

If you have questions or suggestions on streamlining elections via standard or e-voting means, let us know:

Publication Date: Thursday, October 27, 2011