Elections Enter Online Voting Era
AAPG headquarters staff continually strives to improve services to members worldwide – and the latest evidence of this is the new online voting service for our Regions and Sections.
With the close of the organization’s fiscal year on June 30 came the end of many AAPG elected officer terms. Traditionally, AAPG Sections, Regions or affiliated societies seek headquarters assistance with their officer elections.
Staff assistance involves validating the qualifications of officer candidates, creating the paper ballots and overseeing the printing and mailing of ballots and election instructions.
And then there is the sorting and counting by headquarters staff of individual paper ballots returned to AAPG headquarters in sealed envelopes – the entire process taking up to two months.
This year, with the help of AAPG’s IT department, a new online voting process has been developed, and the Middle East Region was the first to test and utilize this quick, efficient and secure election method.
(Our thanks to AAPG Middle East Region President Aboud Afifi for his leadership to eagerly embrace the new process – and for his assistance to help test the newly designed system.)
Step by Step
Here’s how the process works:
The Region president submits officer candidate names to AAPG headquarters, and an electronic ballot is created.
AAPG headquarters sends a test e-mail to all members in the region who have provided an e-mail address as part of their membership record.
The test e-mail contains a “message from the president” announcing the upcoming election and new online voting process – thus alerting members to the upcoming election but also checking the validity of the e-mail addresses.
Headquarters staff monitors and records all “bounce back” e-mails. Those members who do not use e-mail or those with a faulty e-mail address will not be left out of the voting process; they will receive a traditional paper ballot as before.
One week later, a second e-mail announces the opening of the election, a deadline after which votes will no longer be accepted and online voting instructions. Members are directed to the “Members Only” area of AAPG’s Web site where they can log in with their username (AAPG membership number) and password.
If you have forgotten your password, click on “Reset My Password” and follow the instructions.
Once logged on, members can easily follow the instructions to the electronic ballot, where they select their choice of candidates by clicking on the circle adjacent to each candidate’s name. There is no limit to the number of times a vote may be changed BEFORE submitting the ballot. Members are encouraged to check their ballot carefully before hitting the “submit” button.
There are a number of safeguards to maintain security and accuracy:
- Logging on with an AAPG member number ensures only AAPG members are able to vote.
- The electronic ballot allows only one vote for one candidate for any one office.
- The online system will accept only one ballot per member. If a second vote is attempted, members will see a message on their computer screen stating, “Thank you for your vote submitted on ___ date. Members may vote only once in this election.”
- By hitting the “print” button before submitting the ballot, members may print a copy of their ballot for recordkeeping and to further safeguard the accuracy of their vote.
The two-part vote counting mechanism is designed to be equally secure.
- Votes are automatically counted and recorded on an electronic scorecard.
- Each time a ballot is submitted, an e-mail of that ballot is created. The e-mails automatically go to an e-mail account, which allows each e-mail ballot to be viewed, printed and manually counted, if necessary.
Once the election is closed, the Region president is immediately notified of the winners. Then at the Region president ’s direction, an e-mail is sent out by AAPG headquarters notifying all members in the Region of the election results.