Election Process in Professional Associations

Unlike a regulatory college, the purpose of a professional association (also referred to as a professional organization) is to promote the practice of a profession and lobby the government. Whereas colleges exist to protect the public, colleges exist to represent those practicing the profession.

However, one thing professional associations do have in common with regulatory colleges is that they are democratic institutions. And as democratic institutions, they must consistently hold elections. Nevertheless, election planning is complicated and time-consuming. Having a clear understanding of the procedure and steps involved beforehand is vital.

To learn more about the differences between regulatory colleges and professional associations, click here

The Board of Directors

At the head of every professional association is a board of directors. They run the associations and implement policies in accordance with the bylaws. While an association may hold multiple elections throughout the year, the most important one is for the board.

All members of the board are elected, with term limits varying depending between associations. Directors do not represent districts but are instead general members. The exception to this rule would be for national associations, in which board members or representatives are elected to represent specific regions. Given how important the board is to an association, an election manager must have a clear understanding of the election process.

The Election Process

The following process is for board of directors elections:

1.Establish which positions are open for election
Depending on the association, there may be a couple of positions open for election. Therefore, the first step in planning an election is determining which positions candidates can run for in a given year.

2.Create the electoral roll
The electoral roll is one of the most important documents in any election. It should feature a full list of eligible voters and their contact details. Ensure that any new members have been added and any former members have been removed. Use the same electoral roll to check which members are eligible to nominate themselves to open positions.

3.Announce the election and open nominations
Now is the time to inform your electorate of the upcoming election. All relevant dates, such as the deadline for nomination submission, must be clearly indicated. POLYAS recommends using E-mail to send out credentials as it is more cost-effective and significantly more environmentally friendly.

4.Set up the election
Set up the election in the manner you have decided. Depending on your voting method, this may require printing of ballots, mailing of voter credentials, or the construction of voting booths.

5.Commence the election
With your election underway, members can now cast their votes.

6.End the election
Ensure that you have a clear end date for the election. Once the election is over, the votes must be counted and if necessary, recounted. The successful candidates can then be announced.

If you would like a more detailed overview of the process, download our free election checklist here

Do you want to make the change to online voting, but still not clear on how it works? You may need to amend your bylaws.

The Advantages of Online Voting

As is by now apparent, planning even the most basic elections are a chore for your association. That’s why POLYAS recommends moving the process online. Rather than have to print off thousands of ballot papers and mail them off, you can create one e-ballot in minutes. Then, with a click, the election invitation can be emailed to all your members.

There is no reason to stay stuck with paper or in-person voting. Contact our election experts to learn more about online voting today