Write-In Votes

Leigh Wintz

We’ve had clients ask about write-in votes and the same question came up on-line recently. If your association has¬†parliamentary authority in your bylaws (e.g. RONR or Standard Code), you can read about write-in votes and how to handle them (process will be the same). In general, every election should allow for write-ins. It is a legal vote if the candidate meets the other qualifications for the position that are listed in your bylaws. If the candidate does not meet the qualifications, the write-in vote is counted as a vote cast, but an illegal vote. For instance, if someone writes in Minnie Mouse (not a real person) or writes in the name of a real member but they are retired and the qualifications for office include being an active member, the vote would be counted as illegal. The tally sheet and the announcement of election results, even in electronic elections, should include the number of votes cast, the number necessary for election and the number of votes cast for each candidate, including legal write-ins. The number of illegal votes and why they were illegal should also be listed.

If there are no candidates for an office, write-ins will rule the day (assuming all write in votes are legal). If for instance, one person receives five write in votes and another receives two write-in votes, the number of votes cast would be seven, necessary for election would be four (more than half is a majority) and candidate with five votes wins. If they were to refuse to serve, then a vacancy is created and the vacancy is filled as required in your bylaws. Same thing if no one writes-in anybody.

Of course, if an association consistently has no candidates for an office, it should examine why. Are there real or perceived barriers to serving on the board? Is board too large? Is the position description unclear?

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About the Author

Leigh Wintz

Leigh is a Principal Consultant with Tecker International. She has 25 years experience in association management. She has led international organizations and guided US organizations with international expansions. She has expertise in healthcare, hospital administration, fundraising and corporate sponsorship.