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PTA Elections...Running Them Smoothly in a Virtual World

Elections are key to the smooth running of a PTA or PTO. Not only do they ensure that proper leadership presides over the organization’s activities, but it also determines a division of responsibility within the PTO, making operations efficient. In the ever-uncertain world that has been struck by the novel coronavirus, tasks have shifted to an online platform. And PTAs and PTOs have not trailed behind, with elections soon taking on a virtual mode.

Most PTAs, however, have no experience in conducting online elections, and so the task before them is not a small one. But there’s no need to worry; after reading this short guide, you’ll soon know all there is to know about running your PTAs elections online!

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Here’s how to run your PTA/PTO elections online:

Sort Out your Bylaws

The first step to holding successful online elections is making sure your bylaws actually allow you to do so. If your PTO’s bylaws prohibit proxy voting, then the next course of action is to work on amendments. Typically, this will entail notifying your PTO members about the proposed changes, usually through email, and setting up a time slot where the said amendments can be voted upon.

In current times of the coronavirus, where in-person voting poses significant risk, it is likely that a shift to online elections will be passed unanimously. Once this is so, PTOs should add a clause to their bylaws stating the allowance of virtual elections.

Choose your Voting Platform

Once you’ve decided to go ahead with online elections, you’ll need to dive into the real work. The primary step here is to select a voting platform through which you will conduct your PTO’s online elections.

There are three main options that PTOs can opt for:

1. Virtual Meeting

This would typically take place over a Zoom hosted video conference. Members would gather, and once the candidates have been introduced, each can vote either using the hand raise button or through chat option.

If your PTO does opt for a virtual meeting election, then it’s important to make sure that everyone follows instructions: this entails members not speaking out of turn, minimizing background disruptions, and facilitating those with a weak internet connection.

2. Online Survey and Voting Programs

PTOs also have the option of conducting elections through survey and voting software. Of these, the most popular include SurveyMonkey, ElectionBuddy, ElectionRunner, and OpaVote. These platforms make the election process much easier as individual votes do not need to be manually counted, and a great deal of time is saved.

3. Email Voting

The last option that PTOs have is to hold their elections via email. This is when a voting form is circulated to members through email, and votes are tallied according to the received responses. While email voting may seem simple enough, it can be hectic if members don’t follow instructions, for instance, by replying with multiple emails.

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After all is done and dusted, the last thing to deal with is the results announcement. Again, PTOs can go about this in a number of ways, including sending out a mass email or holding a virtual conference.

Ideally, it is best to employ both methods in conjunction as the email will work well for those who miss the conference due to any issue, and the conference will give the elected officers a chance to make themselves familiar to the crowd.

All in all, while conducting online elections is no one’s first choice, it’s entirely doable given you head into it with the right frame of mind and preparation!

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