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Electoral System in Cooperative Board Elections

The board of directors is generally elected at the cooperative's Annual General Meeting (AGM) by members in attendance or otherwise in a set election period before the AGM. However, every cooperative has their own bylaws so the electoral system can differ between individual cooperatives.

Board of directors: candidate election

Board of directors elections in cooperatives are usually conducted as candidate elections. Individual members (or if the bylaws allow it, external persons) can run for a position on the board. The directors on the board are elected by the membership through a relative majority voting system. 

Large cooperatives will tend to election their board indirectly using delegates. Large cooperatives will be made up of different regional districts. Members will then vote for a delegate to represents their own district who will then vote for the board of directors.

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List elections in cooperatives

Board of directors elections can also be conducted as list elections. This electoral system has to be included in the bylaws and it needs to be specified when this electoral system applies.

Read more about how to amend your cooperative's bylaws

Party list elections in cooperatives

When setting up list elections in cooperatives, the election officer creates a list of candidates with their desired position on the board of directors. The list of candidates represents the entire board of directors. The voter can then vote for or against this list of candidates. If there is more than one list of candidates, the voter has to choose one in a closed list election. The list of candidates with the majority of votes then wins the election. In an open list election, voters can choose individual candidates from different lists.

Read more about list elections in our election glossary

POLYAS-Tip: If your bylaws allow it, you can conduct your board of directors election and your AGM online. This enables you to save time when organizing your board of directors election and increase voter turnout in your cooperative. Watch this short video about online voting with POLYAS!

Advantages of online voting

Online voting gives your members the opportunity to participate even if they can't attend the AGM. This way you can be sure that your board of directors is democratically elected and legitimized by the majority of members in your cooperative. Moreover, if you include online voting as a voting option you'll almost certainly guarantee a quorum at your next AGM. 

Contact our voting experts to get started with online voting in your cooperative!