3 Ways to Handle PTO Elections {When You Can’t Meet in Person}

It’s not news that the current pandemic is really upending the normal PTO Spring schedule.

But that doesn’t have to mean disaster for your organization!

You just have to change and adapt a bit to match the current circumstances to make things work.

I’ve already shared how to run your PTO during this pandemic and social distancing approved teacher appreciation ideas.

And now let’s turn attention to PTO elections!

This post will cover three different ways to handle elections when you can’t meet in person.

Let’s get to it!

Slate and nominations done or nearly there

First, if your PTO is done with the slating and nomination process, then you’re in the best position because voting is all that’s left!

Hold an online vote for PTO Elections

Follow these steps to hold a virtual election:

  • Announce upcoming vote to membership
  • Ask for other nominations “from the floor” and set a deadline for submissions.
  • Set the response deadline at least a week out for other nominations.
  • Make sure to ask for contact information for the “floor” nominations so that the Nominating Committee can contact those nominated to see if they accept the nomination.
  • Once you’ve contacted all of the un-slated nominees and confirmed nomination acceptance, prepare digital ballot and decide date to close voting.
  • Distribute link to digital ballot (Need one? Snag a free template, below).
  • At the pre-determined time, close form to new responses.
  • Have Secretary or appointed officer double check votes against membership list (if only dues paying members can vote), and filter out non-qualifying votes.
  • Tally responses.
  • Announce results!

Don’t want to vote online?

What if you don’t want to hold a vote online because your bylaws don’t allow for it or because your State PTA Office has forbidden it?

First, these times are unprecedented and rules need to bend, slightly, in order to accommodate the new reality.

Bylaws and Standing Rules aren’t supposed to get in the way of your group operating.

Their job is literally the opposite!

Second, I don’t fully understand the position some PTOs and State PTAs are taking about disallowing online voting and requiring units to wait until Fall to hold in person voting.

I’ll agree that online voting may not be ideal, but honestly, we’re all making do with the current state of our what’s possible during this pandemic.

And sometimes ideal isn’t the best choice in reality.

The Case for Virtual Voting

Outdated rules that ignore the plethora of available means for communicating and effectively holding a virtual vote just doesn’t make sense.

Plain and simple- organizations need to evolve.

Just a bit!

There are platforms (Google Forms and Survey Monkey) that can restrict voting to just one response per person.

And also collect email addresses to ensure only members in good standing vote’s are counted.

The trade off for slightly bending the rules is that you get leaders in their positions now, learning their new roles and effectively planning programs and events, rather than putting leaders at a disadvantage by waiting.

If you wait until school resumes in the Fall to try to find leaders or hold elections, you’re putting your PTA/PTO into a hole that the new leaders might not be able to recover from.

Successful programs, events and fundraisers are a direct result of effective planning.

It just isn’t possible to plan and execute things at the same time and expect to be successful.

Also, the crush of mile long to do lists will be back with us once again in the Fall.

This means parents might not have the capacity to fold in PTO responsibilities to their schedules.

Moreover, the fact that State PTA Offices are currently inconsistent with voting recommendations leads me to believe that some states need to join the rest of us in the modern technology era, where communication has never been easier.

For example, Ohio PTA recently sent out guidelines to their units about how to make online voting happen.

But California PTA has advised units that they must wait to hold in person elections.

What gives with this discrepancy?

It’s a struggle to imagine a really good reason that isn’t outweighed by the huge benefits of getting leaders established now.

Meet during the Summer to vote

An alternative to waiting until school resumes to hold elections is to meet as soon as possible.

And for most of us here in the United States, that’s likely to be late June to early July.

This option is better than waiting until School starts for a few reasons.

Primarily because it gives new leaders an opportunity to plan.

However, the uncertainty of this pandemic throws the timing into question.

Slate mostly unfilled and nomination process hasn’t started

If you haven’t started getting volunteers lined up for next year, you’re in a little bit of pickle!

Get on it now to start getting that slate filled.

Spread the word now!

In addition to announcing that you’re looking for leaders, also reach out to volunteers and potential volunteers personally.

Start calling people and reaching out to those who might be interested.

Once you’ve filled the slate, circle back up to the top of this post for the voting process to follow!

Really don’t have possibilities?

If you truly don’t have any possibilities after chatting up the usual pool of possible volunteers and the new folks you found, then you’ll need to move to Plan C.

And Plan C can play out in a few ways…

Option one: plan a late Summer get together event to try to get the interest of potential new leaders.

Bringing parents together and building community is one of the very best recruitment techniques.

For Elementary Schools, you can plan a whole family event.

For Middle Schools and High Schools, you can plan a Parents Night Out.

By the time Summer hits, parents are going to need this time away from kids.

So be ready to capitalize on the fact that we’ve all been quarantining together.

Second, and perhaps less desirable, you can continue on in your role yourself.

I know you’re squirming in your seat right now at the thought!

But consider if this is the best case scenario, for you and your PTO.

Right now you probably have time to iron out some of the problems you faced this school year.

And that can ensure you don’t have a repeat this next year.

Plus, come the start of school in the Fall, you can reach out to find some helpers for your role.

There’s no reason why you can’t delegate tasks to lessen the burden.

In fact, it’s encouraged!

Need More Help Recruiting Leaders?

If you need more help recruiting leaders, check out the How to Get More Volunteers for your PTO post.

Over to you!

How to handle elections when you literally can’t meet in person is just one big issue facing PTO leaders during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

To sum things up in order of most recommended to least recommended, you can handle PTA/PTA elections like so:

1. Vote now, virtually.

2. Plan to meet during the Summer.

3. Or wait until school resumes in the Fall.

If there’s related topic you’d like me to cover, please let me know in the comments!

Posted in Planning, Communication + Organization, PTO Officers and Leaders and tagged .

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