Posted by Cindy Bracker, Communications Director

I’ve been spending the last week compiling all of the results of the survey into a complete report.  If I didn’t say so already, THANK YOU to the 1200 people that filled out the survey!  This takes some time, so please be patient, and know that will be sharing all of the objective data and much of the comments and ideas that were brought up right here on the blog.  Today, I wanted to address some of the concerns about voting in NCECA elections that were brought up in the survey.  (Of course I’m likely preaching to the choir, because those of you reading the blog are probably the ones who were informed and who voted.)  My personal top concern is that since we introduced online voting, the voter turnout as DECREASED rather than INCREASED.   It seems to me that the system needs further revision. There were a lot of great comments, ideas & insights in the survey that I’d like to share here, semi-categorized topically (along with my responses, of course, which I’m coding in RED, which is, of course, my favourite colour), and then I’d love to have some further comments & good discussion here or in the NCECA Facebook group:

Comments relating to a lack of understanding or awareness of the process

  • no..when are your elections?
    • They generally open in March ONLINE about 2 weeks before the conference and conclude Friday at 4pm of the conference time zone
  • I had trouble finding it on the app until it was too late
    • We had a video on how to use the app that showed where to find information on voting
  • I wanted to vote online, but couldn’t figure out where to do it.
    • See above
  • couldn’t figure how to do it online
    • Next year if I create a video and a written/picture guide showing the how-tos of the process, do you all promise to use it?  😉
  • It’s a problem being an international member. It always seems like an impossible task being so far away.
    • That’s a big part of why we started the online voting process last year.  With the help of the internet, physical distance is no longer a roadblock. 
  • I was under the impression that voting took place at an NCECA member meeting.
    • It used to, but so many people expressed concern that they couldn’t stay long enough to go to that final meeting and vote, that we began to investigate online voting options in around 2010 and finally introduced it for the 2014 elections

Comments relating to a lack of knowledge about candidates

  • I vote whenI personally know candidates, and know that they truly want positions.
    • I think it is safe to say that anyone who puts there name on the ballot truly wants the position.  It is a lot of work and responsibility.  The NCECA nominations committee goes to great lengths to find and properly vet a minimum of 2 candidates for elected positions.  I can tell you from my experience that in 2009, I received a phone call from Keith Williams, indicating my name had come up for the Director-At-Large position and was I interested?  They initially considered something like 12 names, and eventually had 3 on the ballot.  All three of us wanted the position, and the two that I ran against both would have made great DALs.  
  • not sure who to vote for..
    • what would have helped you make a decision?  Each candidate submitted a 3 minute video that was available online beginning in January
  • Ive not been a member long enough to make educated votes
  • no, I don’t know anything about it and an uneducated vote is worse than no vote
  • Plus did not know the people running. My fault!
  • need another cattagry here no-did not know any of the candidates
  • Didn’t vote, as I don’t know the applicants, so difficult to vote on people you don’t know.
  • I have been a member for one year and don’t know enough about what’s important and who are the candidates
  • I am new, I do not know anyone atNceca. It would have been very hard for me to vote forsomeone that I do not know.
    • all of these…..same as above
  • I have always felt “why vote” – from my perspective it seemsto be predetermined by a subgroup of NCECA.
    • well, in a way it is.  It is determined by the subgroup of NCECA members who vote.  You could be PART of that subgroup!
  • You should have each candidate make a 2-3 min. video and post them on the website a month before the conference so we know who they are.
    • we do this, but if you didn’t already know that, we obviously didn’t do a good enough job announcing it. 
  • I don’t know these people and there’s nevera description of what they want to do for the organization, just a bio of them. Blatant who knows who, but whatever
    • Sometimes in life that’s true – about the who knows who….Sometimes people vote based on name recognition alone.  My hope is that NCECA members will take the time to learn about the candidates and vote for the person they think is best, but I do feel like anyone who goes to the effort of putting their name and their self out there probably will bring something good to the board and the organization.  Great point about the lack of description of what they want to do, though.  That’s a suggestion that we can work with!  Thanks.
  • Candidates are anonymous due to lack of information that they provide. Videos are meaningless. Would be irresponsible to vote under such circumstances.
    • I think this connects a little with what I wrote above.  I don’t necessarily think the videos are meaningless, but I do think there’s room for improvement there.  Historically, each candidate would give a 3 minute speech live at the final membership meeting.  Voting would take place immediately after the speeches concluded.  When we switched to online voting, we also converted that concept of the live speech into a video that members would watch in the same way they *used* to watch live at the meeting.  I think of that as a good first draft.  Having seen 2 years of videos, I agree that the strategy needs revision or better instruction to the candidates.  
  • Maybe my information is wrong but I think there is a designated time and place to vote. You see people promoting themselves/campaigning for themselves but you do not see anyone spreading information about the vote itself. Perhaps voting could happen throughout the conference, that way people who are only there for one day can participate. I also think information about those roles are vague. How are we supposed to know exactly what peopleare going to be doing? And how will that affect my NCECA experience?
    • Your information is wrong.  Voting takes place from approximately 2 weeks prior to the conference until 4pm on Friday of the conference, and you don’t have to even be attending the conference to vote.  It’s fully online. Reminders to vote should also be on the screens between presentations, mentioned by the people introducing the sessions, and I think there were push notifications in the app as well, for those who were using that. Great question though about what people are going to be doing and how will that affect your NCECA experience.  The short answer is that the people that are elected to the board are responsible for making a TON of decisions about the conference, from selecting programming to selecting locations.  BUT, I’m making a note for a future blog article on board members specific roles for those of you who want to know what everyone does.  

Suggestions

  • Have voting open until closing lectures.
    • I’m not entirely certain what is involved in counting the ballots, but I could certainly look into the possibility of extending the voting deadline.
  • Lock us all up in a room and make us do it then give us wine, candy and presents as we leave.
    • only if I also get the wine, candy & presents!!!
  • cast votes when registering for the conference
    • I like this idea…..the only problem I see with it is that registration opens pretty early, and it pushes the deadlines back pretty heavily for the candidates to accept the nomination and create their videos (or whatever vehicle we find for the candidates to announce themselves) 
  • Perhaps a separate pre-conference email to members about the elections: the positions open and the candidates, and the procedure(s) for voting.
    • Great idea, and totally doable,  I think there was an email that went out, but it likely had other information in it, so the voting information may have been overlooked. 
  • voting should take place during the conference – not when it almost over. A lot of participants had scheduled departures before voting took place.
    • it did take place during the conference, and before the conference, in fact.
  • iwas surprised we couldn’t vote from the app. Seems like if you are a member the app should recognize that and allow you to votewith out having to remember your numbers.
    • I’m not certain that the coding would work.  That could be a technical roadblock.  Good idea though.
  • Need ballot voting as well.
    • per our bylaws, we have to have a verified election, which means each member can only have access to one ballot.  Since anyone who is a member before March 1st has access to the online ballot, they may not also have access to a paper ballot.  It may seem silly, but it’s one of those annoying rules of being a recognized non-profit organization, so as far as we’ve been able to find thus far, it’s kind of an either/or situation.
  • access the voting vis the app!
    • Yep, this is still the coding thing.  But I love the idea.  It’s at least worth tossing out at our App developer.  I just don’t know that we can do it in a way to meet the requirements that I laid out in the answer above.
  • Text statement as well as or instead ofYoutube.Youtube is too slow for the information gleaned. I am sure some people prefer theyoutube…..
    • good idea.  should do both. 
  • if this is a vote involving members who are not able to attend the conference, perhaps you could post the electronic voting online on if you have not already done so (if you did, this is moot)
    • yep, we did, but again, it obviously was not made known well enough
  • Go back tophysical, open elections rather than have elections that more closely resemble a “ward boss” process than a democratic election. It is time again you begin to trust your members.
    • I don’t understand by the last statement about trusting our members.  The elections are open, albeit online, and they were moved to online to be more inclusive of our members.
  • Try holding the membership meetings (voting) at different times. The first meeting on Weds was concurrent with the bus tours. The last meeting on Sat AM many people leaving at time of meeting or had to get to airport to leave.
    • The first meeting is on *Thursday* morning.  I think a while back it used to be during or right after lunch, and we moved it to first thing thursday morning in an attempt to get more people to attend.  You’re right about the Saturday morning people leaving issue, however, which is partly why we wanted to allow an extended voting time frame.
  • I don’t know if this pertains to the voting process, but the meeting after the closing ceremony speaker could be after the emerging artists talks, but before the closing speaker. That meeting is so lowly attended and it’s when all the awardsare announced and everything. Just move it earlier and it’ll be packed.
    • What an interesting idea.  I wonder if it’s been considered before.  I’ll pass this along to the board as a whole.  
  • I needed an email reminder to have gotten the message in time.
    • several emails were sent out with reminders, check to make sure office@nceca.net is in your whitelist and be sure to follow the blog
  • Enable push notifications on the app reminding us to vote that stop after votingis completed.
    • Another great idea.  If we can tie in voting to the app directly, then we could make this happen.  

Other Comments I couldn’t categorize

  • online!
    • Is this excitement that is online? if so, glad you like it!
  • current nonmember- have been one in the past
    • I do hope you renew your membership!  
  • I’m not a member at this time, though have been in the past.
    • I do hope you renew your membership!  
  • online
    • same thing as the first one in this category.
  • sorry, I intended to but got caught up in the conference. I thought it was good that we could voteon line this year.
    • yeah, that happens,  it’s easy to get swept up in all of it.  I almost feel like we all need a prompt in one of the big sessions to say “we’re going to pause for 2 minutes for you all to pull out your phones and vote” except then people that don’t have phones will be upset and annoyed…still looking for a solution to that.  More voting in advance of the conference would solve this problem, but I don’t know how to be more encouraging to the membership to do that.
  • I just never looked up my UN/PW, I was going to and then didn’t.
    • kind of the same as above.  Conference is busy.
  • Needed to use the on site voting area to get help to get it done.
    • Glad you were able to get the help you needed.  Thanks for voting
  • First year that I didn’t vote
    • I’d love to hear more about why you *didn’t* vote this year.  did the technology get in the way?
  • Did not pay enough attention to the election. Sorry.
    • Thanks for your honesty.  I hope to change your mind about the importance of elections before next year.
Categories: Featured, Inside NCECA

2 Responses so far.

  1. I didn’t vote. I don’t like online voting. I don’t like videos for candidate presentations either.I have to vote on line or with a paper ballott for huge financial institutions. it is so impersonal. Sorry voting decreased. Guess you need to continue to figure out how to get more participation. For myself, I like to see the candidates, hear what they have to say and how he or she presents him/her self. Didn’t realize we had gown to that extent that is no longer possible.

  2. Hi Cindy: Yes that was my suggestion about the wine, candy and presents. There is an element of truth to it. I belong to a home owner’s association that always had trouble getting a quorum at the annual meetings until “refreshments will be served” was added to the announcement and not served until after the voting. Just a thought.