Hand Held Voting & The Open University Students Association

Posted on: 27-01-2017 by Jessica Comerford

person using a smartphone

Hand Held Voting & The Open University Students Association

ERS work with hundreds of membership organisations, each with different memberships in terms of demographics, requirements and preferences. It is our job to ensure the best election approach and tools are used for each ballot we administer.

Technology is consistently a consideration when approa​ching member communications of any kind – and a ballot is no different. The MemberWise Harnessing the Web 2016 conference, is a networking event for membership organisations looking to make the most of web based technologies to improve membership engagement. ERS was pleased to take part as an Official Conference Affiliate and we provided our hand held voting solution for the conference, a MemberWise first!

ERS also assisted in delivering a breakout session on digital membership democracy, with one of our clients, the Open University Students Association.

Hand held voting

Our hand held voting devices were available for delegates in the main auditorium. This allowed speakers to pose questions to the room. Once a speaker had asked a question, the delegates were then able to quickly and easily respond to those questions. Within a matter of seconds, the results from the room were displayed across several screens around the conference. This interaction with delegates helped the speakers engage more closely the audience and with the issues they were presenting.

The Open University Students AssociationDoes your organisation have the right culture for IT to become a true enabler?

Online engagement seminar track (OU Students Association)

As a part of the engagement track breakout sessions, The OU Students Association told their 2016 election story and explained how they tackled online engagement. The technology ERS built for this project included:

  • An election platform to host all information and facilitate both nominations and voting
  • Inclusion of our eLearner course for prospective candidates
  • Functionality on the platform for questions to be posted to candidates, who could in turn post responses to the electorate
  • An animated video to help explain the election structure and process
  • A user acceptance testing session with a group of disabled students to ensure the platforms accessibility levels were fit for use

There was a great level of attendance at the session, with a lively discussion. One of the key points that came out of the session was how crucial a well planned and executed communication strategy is. Within this, the importance of email was specifically raised. The election turnout data showed a clear correlation with spikes in votes cast and reminder emails being sent. Emails were HTML designed and written in a concise informal and personal tone.

The Open University Students AssociationThe Open University Students Association

The results of the election were positive in that many new voters were reached with an increase in turnout on previous elections. Analysis of the turnout demographics also showed that there was high engagement with new students, long term students and students with a disability.

What OU Students Association think?

We were very pleased to partner with ERS for our elections process. Their tools, experience and knowledge were vital to a successful process and we greatly appreciated their strong focus on our needs as a client.

We were equally pleased to be invited to present at the MemberWise Harnessing The Web conference. It was a fantastic event and we had a very engaged and lively audience for our session which gave us an opportunity to tell our story and share experiences with other delegates.

What MemberWise thinks

This is the first year we’ve enabled delegates to vote via electronic voting pads in the main auditorium. It worked well, delegates were able to feel part of a conversation rather than just being talked at and it helped to deliver the educational content as more of a two-way conversation. I would highly recommend this service to other membership organisations and associations looking to enhance delegate engagement/value.

My killer question to the conference at the end of the day was ‘Will you go back to the office and change/develop at least one web focused activity?’ I was putting everything on the line with this question, however I was pleased (and somewhat relieved!) to hear within seconds that 95% confirmed they would!

What ERS thinks

We have a really solid set of digital products and tools that can be combined and configured to suit any election type.

It was fantastic to have provided handheld voting to the conference for the first time. MemberWise has been driving the engagement narrative and innovations for 5 years and ERS are proud to contribute, we are looking forward to Harnessing the Web 2017 already.

Working with OU Students Association, who did a huge amount of work on the communication side of their election project, meant that our tools were put to very good use. It is important for the governance aspects of an election to be supported with an engaging communications plan – the buy in from both departments at OU Students Association was an excellent approach.


Luke Ashby – Digital Consultant