Checklist: Elections in Unions

Whether you are voting on your executive board, your board of directors or both, union elections are conducted similarly throughout North America. The election process may vary due to the size or complex structure of labor unions. Regardless, all election planning usually includes the same steps. We have prepared a practical checklist, which you can use to ensure that you meet all of your election planning deadlines or just to refresh your memory.

Seven Steps in your Union Elections

  • Set up an election committee

If you have not already appointed or elected an election committee, this may be the first step in your election administration. The election committee is typically responsible for the nomination process but this may also be an independent committee, especially in nationally operating unions.* 

  • Check voting rights and eligibility to vote

Before creating the electoral roll, you need check which members have voting rights. This is a vital part of your election organization since not all members may be eligible to vote in the specific election you are planning.

  • Create electoral roll 

Once you have checked who is eligible to vote in the upcoming elections, the electoral roll is created. It is the key piece in organizing elections including the name, address, membership number and contact details of all eligible voters. Ineligible voters must be clearly marked or removed from the electoral roll entirely.

  • Define nomination period 

Prior to the election, the election committee decides on a limited nomination period. During this time, members have the opportunity to nominate fellow members or themselves. 

  • Send out election invitations 

After the electoral roll is created and nominees are found, your members are invited to participate in the election. They receive all necessary information how and where to vote. When informing your voters, make sure they are aware of all enabled voting procedures. They may, for example, have the opportunity to vote online or by mail prior to the AGM instead of in person at the AGM. Some voters may receive their sealed online voting credentials or postal voting documents separately. 

  • Election period

If postal and online voting is enabled in your election, the election period usually starts a few weeks before the AGM. It often ends shortly before the AGM so that the election results can be made public at the AGM. 

  • Counting votes & publishing election results 

Once the election period is over, the election committee is in charge of counting the votes. When all members of the election committee reach a unanimous result, they publish the election results on the union website, a member’s magazine or at the AGM.

* Note: Depending on the size of the union, a delegate system may be in place who are elected by the members. Delegates can either elect the executive board or board of directors directly or represent other voters from their local union. You can use our nomination platform to help you through this process.

Download a Checklist for your Elections

We have summarized the most important steps in your election administration in a two-page practical checklist. 

The checklist for union elections is free to download:
Checklist labor union elections (PDF)

POLYAS tip:  The checklist emphasizes the complex election planning necessary for union elections. By adding online voting to your voting options, you can simplify your election management. Contact our experienced election experts now!

Use a Digital Electoral Roll in your Board Elections

Alongside the ballot papers themselves, the electoral roll is an integral part of any election. Before beginning the planning of your next election, make sure that your electoral role is up-to-date with all necessary contact details. Digitalization may simplify your election management considerably. The electoral roll can, for example, be created online. With a digital electoral roll, you can easily send out election documents online. Finally, you save money through minimizing printing and mail costs.

Online voting also helps your union to go green! (PDF)