Election Administration: Election Calendar
Elections are highly regulated in terms of scheduling and time-frames. Election rules often specify fixed time-frames for many sub-processes within an election. Adherence to these time-frames is of vital importance as elections can be declared invalid if the election officer or election committee fails to do so.
It's not just the administration of the election itself which must adhere to these time-frames, but voters' submissions of nominees and candidates are also subject to strict deadlines. Election rules will set-out scheduling plans, periods and times of important announcements in detail, which willl clearly allocate specific time-frames for each phase in the process of administering the election.
Preparing an election calendar
The first step in planning elections is to check which dates should be kept in mind for administering the election and to select the best time for all phases in planning the election. The structure of the election calendar is linked to the duration of the election period:
Version 1: a single election day - voting is only possible on one specific day.
- Advantage: you don't have to make space available for an extended period of time and therefore you'll lower election expenditure
- Disadvantage: if someone is sick or has no spare time on the election date then they cannot vote. This leads to lower voter turnout.
Version 2: an election period - voting is made possible throughout an election period which can vary in length from several days to weeks. From much experience, 14 days has generally been an ideal time period.
- Advantage: people have several days to vote, which offers flexibility to the voter and will lead to an increased voter turnout. Additionally, you can analyze your voters’ behavior in real-time through the election period and encourage those who haven't yet voted to participate.
- Disadvantage: with physical ballot box elections, polling stations need to be available for a longer period and election volunteers or staff members also need to be employed to administer the election throughout the extended period.
A detailed election calendar
Once you have decided on the duration of the election period, you can then identify factors which might influence your election. For example:
- Deadlines set in the election rules e.g. when to inform voters about the upcoming election
- Vacation and holidays
- Editorial deadlines (e.g. from member magazines)
- Deadlines for print orders (e.g. printing info brochures)
Additionally, list all persons involved in planning the election and note who requires access to the election calendar in addition to the election officer.
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Creating an election calendar: contents
Election calendars include an overview about all relevant meetings and milestones throughout the course of planning the election. Divide your election calendar in phases and always incorporate a time buffer into your planning to avoid unnecessary stress. Possible steps might include:
The election period - include the single election date or election period with specific times
Editorial deadlines / deadlines for submitting printed materials - as election marketing is extremely important to motivate voters, you should make sure your calendar includes strict deadlines for having essential materials printed.
Deadlines for distributing election information and polling cards - often the election rules will outline when voters should be informed about an upcoming election. If not, look to previous elections for guidance. Clearly detail which documents to include in the distribution of election information as well as set a date for printing.
Here you can learn how to organize voter invitations and send election information with the Online Voting Manager >
POLYAS-Tip: Send information about election periods and election procedures online with ease. An online election facilitates communication with your voters through digital channels. Contact our digital election experts now and request a free quote!
Voter-communication is marketing
Elections can often be overlooked by eligible voters as being of lower priority in their busy day-to-day schedules. However, it is possible to engage your voters at the right time by reminding them of the upcoming election and encouraging them to cast their vote. Read more about measures to increase voter turnout in your organization.
One particular measure to increase voter turnout is to send voters information about candidates and the election, in addition to a polite voting reminder. Include these as well as preparation time to your election calendar. By doing so, you and the election committee have an overview about all measures involved in planning and conducting the election.
Plan every aspect of your voter communications when you create your poll in the POLYAS Online Voting Manager and keep track of the entire election process. Get to know the Voting Manager now!