The Co-operative Tradeka already thought about the possibility of e-voting during the previous election of its representative body. The decision to offer the option in addition to traditional postal voting was made in the spring of 2016. Digia was selected as a partner for its good references and expert team, among other reasons.
I am sure that offering e-voting did its part to increase voting activity among those who have found voting on paper difficult.
Perttu Puro, CEO, Tradeka
The people at Hämeentie in Helsinki are happy. The elections for the representative body of Co-operative Tradeka with its 250,000 members have been completed successfully, and the 85 representatives elected have started their work. In addition to a voting activity of 30%, Perttu Puro, CEO of Tradeka, can also be satisfied about the elections for other reasons: the e-voting that was offered as an option for the first time was carried out without problems.
Tradeka is a 100-year-old management cooperative, which owns the hotel and restaurant company Restel Ltd as well as the investment company Tradeka-Invest Ltd, among other things. The elections for the representative body are held every six years; they were last held in March 2016, with e-voting as a possibility for the first time. In cooperation with Edita, Digia provided the whole election service that included traditional postal voting in addition to the e-voting.
Elections always hold the possibility of change, but this time it was apparent at Tradeka in a special way through e-voting. The change cannot be described as rash, because the idea had time to mature for one term of the representative body.
“The idea of e-voting already came up during the previous elections in 2010. However, we decided to only organise traditional postal voting at the time,” Puro says.
When Digia offered e-voting as a part of postal voting, the offer was easy to accept. The choice of partner was also influenced by good references and a skilled team.
“We organised a tendering process, in which the cooperation between Digia and Edita stood out in several ways to its advantage. One of the most important factors was that we could get the whole election from the same place,” Puro sums up.
The decision was made easier by other cooperatives that had used e-voting. It is also easy to find reasons for the open-minded attitude in the digitalisation of today.
“E-voting is today’s reality.”
Even though Tradeka was fairly confident that e-voting and postal voting would go well in cooperation with Digia and Edita, preparations were naturally also made in case of potential problems. However, these precautions were hardly necessary during the elections, says Tradeka’s Management Secretary Heli Yrjölä.
“One of the fears involved the election materials posted to the members possibly being incomplete. Our office had a large stack of election envelopes in case a member did not have the election materials, or if a part of them were missing. In the end, we only had to send a few dozen of these envelopes,” Yrjölä remembers.
“Similarly, logging in to the e-voting and the whole voting process worked better than we dared to expect.”
Yrjölä praises the cooperation with Digia, which went very well.
“Digia had a very active approach towards issues throughout the election process. If we had questions or if there were any problems, everything was cleared up quickly and we went on together again. The active approach and the brisk solution of problems were just what was needed to dispel any small fears and solve problems even before they occurred,” Yrjölä says.
Tradeka set clear goals for e-voting, and those goals were reached.
“Before the elections we estimated that roughly 10% of the voters would use e-voting, and this estimate proved to be correct when we got the final result,” Puro says.
Even though the numbers may seem small at a first glance, Tradeka is convinced of the importance of e-voting for the final voting activity.
“I am sure that offering e-voting did its part to increase voting activity among those who have found voting on paper difficult. In addition, e-voting was an excellent option for last minute voters, for example,” Puro states.
“We received positive feedback about e-voting from our members. The members could be sure that their vote was received and that it went to the right candidate.”
Elections are always a major effort, and this was also noticed at Tradeka. When thinking of past elections, clear insights immediately come to Puro and Yrjölä’s minds.
“The advance arrangements took a lot of time and effort, even though the elections themselves went relatively easily. For example, verifying the eligibility of the candidates involves hard manual work,” Puro sums up.
“On the other hand, the elections themselves were actually surprisingly calm, because all preliminary work had been done thoroughly to the last detail,” Yrjölä adds.
The lessons learned from the elections and the positive experiences from e-voting also give food for thought for future elections of the representative body.
“We will also offer our members an opportunity for e-voting in Tradeka’s next elections in six years,” Puro assures.