It’s refreshing that after seventy plus years, the National Labor Relations Board, a relatively conservative organization when it comes to adjusting to the times, is diving head first into the electronic information age. It has a user-friendly, spiffy and very useful website, a cellphone app for access to instant updates, a Facebook page, and even a Twitter page.
It appears though that the Board might be going even further by exploring the potential use of electronic voting during union elections.
On June 9, 2010, the Board issued a public request for information soliciting information regarding secure electronic voting methods. The Board notes in its request for information:
The NLRB’s requirements are for the acquisition of electronic voting services to support conducting secret-ballot elections to determine representation issues. Specifically, the Agency requires a proven solution that supports mail, telephone, web-based and/or on-site electronic voting; that includes the necessary safeguards to ensure the accuracy, secrecy, observability, transparency, integrity, accountability, and auditability of Agency-conducted elections; and that has demonstrated experience in protecting similar type elections from both deliberate misconduct and simple error. With respect to electronic voting capabilities, the Agency specifically requests information, to the extent available, relating to what safeguards, if any, could be implemented to ensure that votes cast remotely were free from distractions or other interferences, including undue intimidation or coercion. The Agency also requests, to the extent available, information relating to experience regarding the level of participation achieved through remote electronic voting technology (vs. traditional on-site elections, whether manual or electronic).
The combination of the NLRB’s continuing technological modernization, the numerous locations and size of offices, and varying end-user competency levels may add complexity to the electronic voting services solution.
The use of electronic voting in union elections, which has long been in use for employees in the railway and airline industries in elections conducted by the National Mediation Board, may prove to be a sign that the NLRB is being active in brining itself into the 21st Century.
Already though, management lawyers and employer are making rumbling noises about this. That alone might mean electronic voting might be a very good thing for employees.