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What We Learned Using E-Voting For The First Time At Our Diocesan Convention

For the first time in its history, the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina became one of many church organizations forced to transition its annual diocesan convention to a virtual meeting, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Diocese Convention Committee needed an online solution capable of meeting their electoral ballot and general voting needs, as well as relieving the pressure of holding a virtual meeting of up to 400 delegates with varying levels of tech savvy.

With six years experience using Scantron machines and little knowledge of e-voting, conducting the 98th Diocesan Convention virtually with ZOOM Webinar and VPOLL was a journey of discovery for the diocese.

Over 350 attendees from 61 congregations tuned in, making it imperative that the switch to e-voting not create any stress for convention organizers or delegates, many of whom were senior citizens. According to d’Rue Hazel, Canon for Vision and Ministry Development, the decision to use VPOLL came down to three key factors:

 

1. Ensuring Vote Integrity

The Diocese Convention Committee needed a trustworthy and reliable e-voting system that was both easy to use and able to uphold the diocese’s set rules to be observed. Voter verification was also an essential requirement, as both voting and non-voting members of clergy were to be in attendance.

“The process of participant authentication was made simple with VPOLL. We have some people that participate in our conventions who have seat and voice but no vote. We simply provided Vistacom with an Excel spreadsheet of our list of attendees and they took care of emailing credential numbers to the right people.”

Using VPOLL, delegates could elect church officers, vote on annual budgets, address resolutions, and make constitution and canon changes. Ensuring accuracy of vote count was imperative.The Diocese Convention Committee relied on VPOLL for its advanced voter authentication and vote counting features:

  • Participant Authentication. Only delegates who received credential numbers were able to log in to VPOLL successfully.
  • Quorum. Using advanced reporting from VPOLL, their remote technician was able to guide delegates through the process for Certification of Quorum.
  • Required Majority. The diocese established both minimum and maximum vote requirements for the election of Lay Executive Council members. Using a simple majority calculation provided by VPOLL the diocese was able to complete their elections in the first round.

“All I had to do was send over Powerpoint slides with the votes and Scott took care of setting up the entire agenda for us.”

 

2. Instilling Voter Confidence

Leading up to the convention, the Diocese Convention Committee held ZOOM and VPOLL practice sessions for delegates with the support of Vistacom staff.

“We have a bishop who does 2 or 3 rehearsals before the convention, and each time he has a rehearsal there is the possibility that decisions will change. Each time our point person, Scott, was very understanding and accommodating.”

Throughout the convention a remote technician from Vistacom delivered instruction for clergy and delegates to respond to motions, providing an objective voice throughout the process. The technician did more than announce when it was time to vote—he was also able to assist with unanticipated votes.

“When you’re doing something new for the first time you can make the best of plans but there is always something you didn’t think of. Thankfully that only happened one time throughout the entire convention. Before I could even request help, our technician Scott was texting me to see if he should set up a new vote.”

 

3. Unmatched Ease of Use

The Diocese Convention Committee was able to achieve exceptional voter participation thanks to VPOLL. Unlike with Scantron, they were able to call results with great speed, many times before all of the delegates had even voted. This would not have been possible prior to the switch to e-voting, when anywhere from 300 to 400 ballots needed to be fed into the Scantron before calling results. On top of this, they were also spared the confusion of dealing with missed votes and incorrect vote counting.

“In times past, I often got pulled off the convention floor to troubleshoot a problem Not having to deal with that saved immeasurable time, plus having the instantaneous results.”

“There isn’t any going back for us”

It’s no wonder that everyone involved in this year’s 98th Diocesan Convention praised VPOLL for its easy-to-use interface and hands-on support. What’s more, many attendees were 70+ years of age and not one expressed difficulty with using VPOLL e-voting.

 

How can VPOLL e-voting help you?

Getting started with e-voting is both safe and simple to do with VPOLL. Find out for yourself why 95% of customers repeat choosing Vistacom as their audience response and e-voting system provider. Schedule your free 30-minute demo and consultation.