For the first time, members of the North Georgia Annual Conference used electronic voting devices to elect delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conference, and continued using the devices for votes on resolutions at the 2015 Annual Conference session in June.
Recently, representatives from conference IT, treasurer's office, communications, head tellers, and the Conference Secretary gathered to evaluate and reflect on the electronic voting process. Using the post-Annual Conference survey results, the group considered technology, tellers, and communication.
Respondents to the survey were very positive -- just under 94 percent reported having no problems or few problems with electronic voting -- but also offered valuable suggestions.
Lumi Insight, the vendor that conducted the voting, has a great deal of experience with United Methodist organizations, having handled voting at the last three General Conferences and the South Central Jurisdictional Conference. In addition to North Georgia, they have conducted Annual Conference voting in the Louisiana Conference, Oklahoma Conference, North Texas Conference and the Texas Conference.
The primary goal in conducting voting at the North Georgia Conference was to balance good stewardship with available technology.
Electronic voting greatly increased the speed of return of election results, allowing for back-to-back voting at times, while it eliminated the time needed in years past to distribute and collect paper ballots.
A number of the survey respondents commented that in the future they would like to see a confirmation of a sent vote, the ability to review the ballot before it is transmitted, and an indication of an invalid ballot. While the technology for this feedback wasn't available with the devices used in 2015, these suggestions have been noted for 2019, the next "votingyear" for the Annual Conference.
"The particular devices used were chosen because they were the only device that could accommodate write-in votes," explained IT Director Michael Murphy-McCarthy.
The election team agreed that the teller model used this year was well executed and commend the tellers on how quickly they grasped and carried out the plans.
Among several communication improvements, the team recommends including all voting guidelines in the pre-Conference Handbook and publishing a communication timeline so that members of conference know when they can expect updates.
One survey respondent summed up the electronic voting process well, writing, "We learned quickly and it worked great!"
Other components of the post-Annual Conference survey will be reviewed and considered at the first meeting of the Annual Conference planning committee meeting this fall.