Updated: Jul 12
Voting has been the cornerstone of the democratic process since at least 508 BC when citizens began to elect officials. The voting process is constantly evolving, changing, and innovating. The recent pandemic has shifted voting from paper to online, integrating technology further into our lives.
Now, more and more organizations are looking for hybrid voting that allows their constituents the choice of paper, in-person as well as online virtual voting. Organizations have started implementing hybrid voting because of its many advantages: convenience, cost savings, and environmental benefits.
What is hybrid voting and your carbon footprint?
Communities can switch to hybrid election models to become more environmentally conscious about their carbon footprint. There are other options, besides paper, that could also be taken into consideration to benefit your community voting experience. Having the option to vote by mail, in person, or online with hybrid voting expands convenience for the voter and can decrease your community’s carbon footprint. Your carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions that various activities produce, which can be:
Burning fossil fuels by driving to work
Using electricity at your home or business
Disposing of waste through garbage disposal or other methods
Single-use paper bags
What is the carbon footprint of paper mail and why you should switch to hybrid voting?
Because paper mail has many stages in its lifecycle from production, transportation, and disposal, the carbon footprint of paper mail varies widely. In 2008, Pitney Bowes conducted a major study on the environmental impact of mail during all stages of its use. Nearly one-third of the world's total paper production is used by the US each year, and when most of it is business-related, that means a larger carbon footprint. Due to high weight and printing costs, work documents such as contracts, invoices, letters, and cards add up rapidly, resulting in a very large share of energy consumption and pollutant emissions as compared to personal mail (Pitney Bowes 2008).
In the paper elections we conducted we’ve seen mailings weighing several ounces per recipient, sometimes with more than 20 pages of paper each (notification letter, candidate statements, meeting agenda, meeting minutes, proxy form, paper ballot, secrecy envelope, and return envelope). All of this is critical to comply with your bylaws for paper elections.
When compared to our hybrid elections, we’ve been able to save over 2,000 pounds of paper and a large carbon footprint by minimizing paper production and increasing accessibility at the same time. In this process, we move as much of the information online as possible ensuring nothing is lost. It is important to continue being carbon conscious and aware of how our paper use affects the environment.
We offer a free demo to help you reduce your carbon footprint if you want to learn more about switching from paper voting to online or hybrid voting. Hybrid voting truly creates more efficient and environmentally-friendly elections that everyone can stand behind.
Pitney Bowes 2008 study: https://www.pb.com/docs/US/pdf/Our-Company/Corporate-Responsibility/The-Environmental-Impact-of-Mail-A-Baseline-White-Paper.pdf Business Paper Mail: https://www.eco2greetings.com/News/The-Carbon-Footprint-of-Email-vs-Postal-Mail.html#:~:text=A%20typical%20year%20of%20incoming,will%20depend%20on%20the%20company