In a recent newsletter, we discussed voting by email and the State of Oregon’s requirements that outline how it must be done. Below, are some notes and steps for creating and adopting an email voting policy.

Need a refresher? Nonprofits and Email Voting: What Does Oregon Law Allow?

Developing a Voting By Email Policy

Outlining the potential for voting by email in advance of the necessity to do so is a good idea, but even if you’ve been making decisions this way already, it’s important to put the policy in place so the integrity of your decisions are not compromised.

A short-form document is sufficient in developing your Voting By Email policy. The document should outline operational guidelines for using email to make and pass motions. Some things to consider when generating your policy:

  • Form a committee. A new policy might be drafted by the Governance Committee or maybe a new, temporary committee should be formed. You may want to include others, such as staff, in on the creation of the new policy.
  • Begin with a purpose statement. Outline the policy and the reason for having it.
  • Outline what actions the board will consider without meeting. Note that regular business should be saved for scheduled meetings when the format will allow for thorough discussion.
  • Outline email etiquette procedures that board members will observe. Consider elements such as requiring all communications to include a signature line and quoting passages referenced during discussion along with mention of the original author.
  • Explicitly list the procedures for voting by email and what satisfies the legal requirements as outlined by the State of Oregon: Charitable Activities Section.
  • Include reporting requirements. Consider and detail what needs to be reported and filed after a vote by email.
  • Validate the process with a test. Conduct a test email vote to see the steps in action.

Once the policy is drafted, the board must formally approve it. It should be filed for reference and included in all board member notebooks. It should also be discussed as part of any new board member orientation, and new directors should sign a statement indicating that the policy has been read and understood. Like all board policies, the Voting By Email policy should be reviewed routinely and revised as necessary.