E-voting – It can be done

Division 53 just went through its first electronic voting on bylaws changes. Karen Roberts, Executive Secretary recounts the experience and offers advice on how to get it done

Karen Roberts, Executive SecretaryAs we continue to blaze the trails of technology with instant information, connecting readily with social networking to having bicoastal meetings via teleconferencing; the days of a ‘paper trail’ are quickly fading away.  There once was a time when there were hardcopies of membership directories, meeting minutes and even voting ballots that were counted, recounted and verified by hand.  Those times…are beginning to run out; especially with regards to voting and ballots.

Just recently, Division 53 – Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, went through its first electronic voting dealing with some bylaws changes.  As more and more divisions look at the costs and efficiency of mailing paper ballots, we sat down with Karen Roberts, Executive Secretary for Division 53, to get her perspective and advice on conducting an e-vote. 

Ms. Roberts may have paved the way for other divisions to easily travel this path, but her recount of her experience and advice may also make your experience less stressful. 

Why did you contact APA initially with respect to a bylaws amendment electronic vote?

KR: I knew that I had to get a file of email addresses of APA Division 53 members. From our Bylaws voting that I conducted earlier this year, I also knew that the stop-email flag was set on several hundred of the Division 53 members and that these members needed to be contacted about the Bylaws voting too. I knew that I would still have to mail paper ballots to the members without an email address. But I was hoping that there was some way to get the email addresses of those with the stop-email flag set, so I contacted Division Services to see what could be done. I had learned that those members with the stop-email flag could only be sent emails that were considered “official” APA business. I was hoping to be given the email addresses of all Division 53 members because in my opinion, voting for Bylaws amendments is official APA business.

What was the response from APA?

KR: Saran Jordan was very helpful, she arranged for the stop-email issue be presented to the APA Executive Management Group. After meeting, this group agreed that Bylaws voting is official APA business and that the stop-email addresses could be released for this purpose, however the email needed to be sent from APA which meant that it would be entered into the schedule of large email blasts that go out from APA.

What did you have to do to get ready for the email blast?

KR: First, I had to request 2 files from APA; one file containing the email address of all Division 53 members including those with the stop-email flag set, and another file containing names and addresses of those without an email address. Then APA forms had to be filled out that Sarah Jordan coordinated to schedule the email blast. I was hoping to get the electronic ballots sent out on November 1 and APA wanted 2 weeks to prepare. Next I had to set up the electronic ballot.  Then testing was done. Emails were sent on November 1 to 1,752 Division 53 members, this included 381 members with the stop-email flag set.

Here's the e-mail that Division 53 members recieved:

Dear Colleague:

 

The Board of Directors of APA's Division 53, the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology voted recently to propose changes to the Bylaws. According to the current Bylaws, a change to the Bylaws requires a vote of the membership. This email represents notification of the proposed changes. Your email address was obtained from the APA Membership Database, this will be a one time emailing for this Division 53 Bylaws amendment only.

 

The voting period will be sixty (60) days. An affirmative vote of the majority of the votes cast shall be required to ratify the amendment which shall be effective immediately. The Board of Directors of the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology proposes adding the two amendments below to the Bylaws. Wording to be removed is [bracketed], new wording is in curly {brackets}.

 

1.  Article III, Section H: This amendment will allow the Board of Directors to fill in a more timely manner the vacant position of any Officer who resigns during his or her term.

 

“In the case of death, incapacity, or resignation of the President-Elect, Treasurer, Secretary, Member-at-Large or Council Representative, the Board of Directors shall, by majority vote, elect a successor to serve [until January 1 of the next year and shall also undertake to conduct a special election from among eligible members to secure a permanent incumbent who shall complete the unexpired term] {the remaining term of office}.”

 

2.  Article VI, Section E: This amendment will allow the Board of Directors to fill in a more timely manner the position of any elected Officer who resigns before his or her term of office has started.

 

“In the case of death, incapacity, or resignation of any elected official, the vacant office shall be filled by the Board of Directors by majority vote[; the individual elected shall serve until the next annual meeting. The Board shall also undertake to conduct a special election from among eligible members to secure an incumbent who shall complete the unexpired term].”

 

If you have any questions about this Bylaws change or the electronic voting process please contact

 

Karen Roberts
Executive Secretary,
Division 53, P.O. Box 3968,
Lawrence, KS 66046,
or by phone at 785-856-0713.

 

Thank you for voting and supporting the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.

 

Sincerely,

 

Anthony Spirito, Ph.D., ABPP, President

 

Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology

 

What did you do with the email addresses that bounced back?

KR: APA sent me a list of the email addresses that bounced. I then sent these members a paper ballot.

Were there many that bounced back?

KR: Out of 1,752 emails sent, there were 118 bounces.

How did you manage this process?

KR: When I got the list of bounced email addresses, I needed to get the names and addresses of these people. I compared the email list with the original list of names, addresses and email addresses and created a separate spreadsheet that I used for printing labels and mailing.


APA had to change its policies for members who have a ‘stop email’ tag on their membership records; meaning they are not solicited with email blasts.  APA changed this policy to include those with ‘stop email’ tags only for bylaws votes.

Many divisions’ bylaws may have language that prevents the division from an electronic bylaws vote.  Did your division have to change its bylaws before the electronic vote?

KR: Both of the Divisions (53 and 54) that I work for conducted a Bylaws vote earlier this year to allow for electronic voting.

What was the name of the company that provided the software for you to implement the bylaws email blast?

KR: I used a company called iContact.

Were there costs associated with this software?  If so, was it economical?  Worth the price?  Would you recommend it to others?

KR: iContact is very reasonable, about $8.00 a month. I have also used iContact for sending mass emails; the cost to do that is based on the number of emails that are sent. It’s easy to use and can be customized. I would definitely recommend it.

*There is no iContact endorsement.  Other well-known email marketing service providers include Constant Contact, Vertical Response, MailChimp, JangoMail, to name a few. 
 
What advice do you have for other divisions that are thinking about doing a bylaws change via electronic voting?

KR: Now that Sarah and I have worked out the issues, it should be very easy for any other division to do this. It is much cheaper to send out emails than to mail paper ballots. Communicating electronically is the way most organizations are trying to go.

For other questions, you may contact Ms. Roberts.