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December 23, 2008



Association voting is not just important—for board seats, bylaw amendments, polling members on new initiatives—but complicated. Compared to ESPN or American Idol tallies, where promoters don't mind who votes and how many times, associations enforce strict rules, provide extra services to voters, and require high integrity results that are tabulated by a certified, independent third parties. They have defined pools of eligible voters dispersed across the nation or planet who may want pictures and platforms of candidates; and the may require the anonymity of secret ballot. Presto, an industry has developed providing software for these purposes.


We snapped this in the DC office of Votenet Solutions CEO Mike Tuteur, who told us his product offers 600 association clients a secure and auditable digital solution to improving democratic governance and increasing member participation. The 31-year-old CEO (at the helm since he was 25) started in sales at a predecessor company and now has a staff of 20. Its clients include the Gospel Music Association, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (aka the Emmys), the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, and the Philadelphia Bar Association.


Michael says he got the idea for incorporating more Web 2.0 uses for Votenet after reading James Surowiecki's "The Wisdom of Crowds," a book about the aggregation of information in groups and the collective wisdom of a community. He says typically clients look to expand the software's applications after a while to ask things like where members would like to hold the next conference. Over time they appreciate their savings in time and money if they used to rely on hard copy ballot printing, postage, postcard reminders, return envelopes, bio booklets, and international mailings. 


Votenet VP Raj Naik says, "This is a zero mistake industry," and his sales reps are called "election consultants" to suggest a broader expertise. He says the software continually undergoes security upgrades and can create a fully auditable paper trail if necessary. And here's a green bonus: Michael says for every new client, they plant 30 trees in South America as part of "Sustainable Harvest International." Since the program's inception, that's more than 5,000 trees.

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Cardinal Bank

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