It concerns public limited companies, cooperatives, limited liability companies, associations, foundations and condominium owners’ associations – in short, any form of organization in which members are allowed to vote on what happens in the organization.
The restrictions used to contain the coronavirus are a challenge for small and large organizations. Meetings are limited to only a few people at once: a large group of members, decision-makers, and voters must not be permitted to meet in person. This makes an election difficult – it fails due to the manner in which it is conducted. Electronic voting provides a convenient alternative.
This will certainly be a topic for the future: because to ensure the ability of organizations to make decisions and act, prevention is better than a cure. It is undeniable that digital or hybrid events will play a more frequent role in the coming years due to infection protection and ecological considerations.
Electronic voting systems for meetings
Until now, electronic voting was mainly used for central events of large organizations: corporations, political parties, trade unions, associations, and cooperatives. The event management could book the hardware and software systems for elections at a high price.
Electronic voting systems are currently in demand. teambits offers a powerful and inexpensive software for elections and votes in accordance with the statutes. Even small and medium-sized associations, foundations and clubs as well as subordinate organizations have the chance to organize their votes digitally.
The legal requirement that election meetings can be organized virtually is new. This development is due to the measures taken to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
New legal basis for virtual general meetings
The „Gesetz zur Abmilderung der Folgen der COVID-19-Pandemie im Zivil-, Insolvenz- und Strafverfahrensrecht“ (“Law on mitigating the consequences of the COVID 19 pandemic in civil, insolvency and criminal procedure law”) of 27 March 2020 formulates the new legal basis for general meetings.
According to Article 2, paragraph 1 of the new law allows the board of directors of joint stock companies to decide on the electronic participation of shareholders and electronic voting. This means that the meeting can now take place virtually, without the physical presence of shareholders.
What this has to do with teambits? In this case, shareholders must be able to exercise their voting rights via electronic communication (§ 1 para. 2 p. 2). In addition, they must be given “an opportunity to ask questions via electronic communication” (§ 1 para. 2 p. 3).
For GmbHs and cooperatives, paragraphs 2 and 3 accordingly stipulate that shareholders or cooperatives may pass resolutions in text form or by written vote.
Section 5, paragraph 2, sentence 1 of the Act states that the boards of directors of associations and foundations may enable their members to exercise their membership rights electronically. They no longer have to be present at the place of assembly to participate. This is also possible without authorization in the statutes.
The new law also permits written voting even before the meeting (§ 5 para. 2 p. 2).
Voting according to the statutes with teambits: Experience and competence
We at teambits have been gaining experience with electronic voting at general meetings for corporations for years.
Voting in accordance with the statutes always requires the presence of voters and a quorum to be established. This is a first major challenge for digital implementation. For face-to-face meetings, this means that attendance and voting rights are checked at the entrance. Voters then receive the voting documents with a voting card.
In the virtual meetings, we also check attendance – at the entrance to the web conference. In the digital voting center we work with voting authorization codes. They identify the participants per digital ballot. If the participant is entitled to vote, he or she may take part in the ballots with a predetermined number of votes. The number of votes for each eligible voter is determined by the voting rules of the organization. If the participant is not entitled to vote, the system registers the participant with zero votes. This allows people who are not entitled to vote to participate.
Participants register by PIN, TAN, or other individual features. This is how teambits identifies the participants. Multiple registration on different devices is not possible. All participants make a choice on the screen of their end device. You can choose between persons, lists or motions that teambits puts to the vote.
Voting in the digital ballot box
There are several conceivable voting modes: depending on the election rules, voters can select one or more candidates, cast a yes or no vote, or abstain. Voters can abstain explicitly by casting an abstention, or implicitly by not voting until the ballot is closed. If the constitution so provides, one abstention counts as consent. Votes replace decisions by acclamation in virtual meetings, if necessary.
teambits creates the technical conditions for a smooth digital voting process for those entitled to vote. The result is available to the election management almost immediately – without time-consuming counting of votes. Invalid votes are technically impossible. If permitted and desired, teambits presents the current status of the voting process on preview screens during the voting process.
The election management or the election commission checks the election and determines the result correctly. It then exports the election results and signs the documents for documentation purposes.
Confidentiality and verifiability of digital voting
Special attention is paid to the secrecy and verifiability of digital voting.
The secrecy of the election is maintained by teambits, as the software removes association between personal data and the election decision on the system.
If the statutes contain the requirement of a digital ballot box, teambits offers this. A digital ballot box stores the data for the election in a verifiable and audit-proof manner.
Plan your digital election with teambits
Are you planning your annual general meeting online in the near future, at which you want to hold an election? Let’s talk, we would be happy to advise you about the requirements and possibilities.