Will Online Voting Boost Producer Participation?

It’s that time of year when commodity organizations are holding district meetings and director elections.

Farm group leaders and staff are always looking for new ways to get farmers out and to boost participation in the process of deciding how check-off dollars should be spent, including the process of deciding who should sit on their boards of directors.

keyboardKudos to a pair of Saskatchewan farm groups for trying something new. Electronic voting has been talked about for years and tried elsewhere, but SaskCanola and the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers look to be leading the way in the Canadian farm community, offering online voting for director elections.

SaskCanola held its first electronic vote last winter, while voting in SPG’s first online election began last week (here). In both cases, voters receive an ID number in the mail, which is required to access the online voting platform hosted by Insightrix.

SPG is hoping the shift to electronic voting will raise participation above the 10 percent mark reached in its 2012 election, when around 1,600 ballots out of 16,000 were returned.

As with any voting system, an electronic format isn’t perfect. Security, voter privacy and accessibility in rural areas are all issues that need to be addressed when setting up an online vote.

What do you think? Will online voting increase producer participation?

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