Alberta Association of Architects’ Landslide Win with Online Elections

By Keith Stoute on

AAA Website Home Page

When it comes to leadership, the mandate of the leaders at any point in time can only be respected if the system that elected them is one of integrity.  This is true in our governments, as well as our member-based organizations.
 
In this blog post, I’d like to highlight the great success the Alberta Association of Architects  (AAA) has had in moving from a paper-based solution they used for many years, to one run completely online, and in iMIS.

According to Sheila Nitti, Executive Assistant at AAA, there were several drivers leading them to upgrade away from paper for their annual Council election. One major consideration was cost.
 
With the paper ballots, they had to mail not only a ballot to every eligible member, but also a return envelope with stamp as well.  Considering only twenty-percent of the members were actually voting, this was a huge waste of money and resources.  Staff had to manually process all the paper on the way out, and again on the way in, which was a huge drain on staff productivity. It also didn’t speak to the organization as being modern and technically advanced, and hindered their ability to keep up with the service expectations of members.
 
At the 2016 AGM, the decision was put forward to the membership as to whether to allow voting by online ballot.  It passed with an overwhelming majority.  The search for a replacement for paper voting was on!
 
“One of the biggest things for us was security; security and making sure votes are kept confidential was key” Sheila shared with us. The new system was to be accurate, easy to use, secure and confidential – AAA staff could not be privy to who a member had voted for.
 
AAA reached out to Visual Antidote to explore the option of using iMIS for online elections. We were pleased to share that we had already been doing this successfully for another client through a combination of RiSE pages, IQAs and forms. Because the solution was built in iMIS, there were no challenges associated with integrating with another online system, such as single-sign-on, restricting access to active members, branding, reporting, and more. 
 
And ever conscious of budgetary concerns, cost was a crucial factor as well.  They found other online voting systems that could have met their needs, but according to Sheila were “more expensive—way more expensive”. 
 
The solution put in place with AAA gives staff a lot of control over what their members experience. Because the pages are all in RiSE, AAA staff are able to update all the content that members see when they go online to vote, just like any of the pages in their website at aaa.ab.ca. If rules change around who can vote, staff simply need to modify the IQAs that drive the secure access to the election. As well, any learning or training that goes in to running the election is applicable to the other areas they use iMIS for, like their renewal and dues payments. 
 
“We’re encouraging our members to use the website more because they can make payments, manage professional development, all kinds of offerings. I think people are happy with our system as the feedback we’re getting is positive.”
 
There was of course concern that some members would not be happy with the switch to digital, and in the first year they offered to mail a paper ballot to anyone that requested it. As Sheila reported, “no one took it”.
 
“I do sing the praises of it because it does, it does work. And we've got it to a place where it works like a charm. The fact that it’s integrated, it's a part of our database and it just works so well. I love the look of everything. It's very simple”.
 
With bold leadership from the executive, and the talented staff responsible for the execution, the Alberta Association of Architects has been able to provide their membership with an easy and convenient way to vote online for several years running, and many more to come!

 

Keith Stoute

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Keith Stoute