On September 14, 2007, the National Mediation Board (NMB) published its final rules regarding its previously announced intent to introduce Internet Voting in elections overseen by the agency.
On September 14, 2007, the National Mediation Board (NMB) published its final rules regarding its previously announced intent to introduce Internet Voting in elections overseen by the agency. Effective October 1, 2007, employees in such elections have the option of voting either by the Telephone Electronic Voting (TEV) system currently in use or via the Internet.
The NMB announced its plans to add the Internet Voting option to its representation election procedure on January 29, 2007, and also solicited comments on its proposal. The NMB received comments from the International Association of Machinists (IAM), the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA), and the Port Authority for New York and New Jersey. On September 14, the NMB addressed these comments and published its final TEV and Internet Voting instructions. The NMB also published a revised Section 13 of the NMB Representation Manual.
Security and Confidentiality of VIN/PIN Combinations:
In response to the unions’ comments expressing concerns about the confidentiality of the VINs and PINs issued to employees for voting, the NMB reiterated that a voter’s name, VIN, and PIN are known only to the voter and to the Election Administrator at the NMB. The contractor used by the NMB to administer the TEV and Internet Voting process is given only a list of VINs and associated PINs for a given election; the contractor is not given the names associated with the VINs. Further, Board Investigators do not have access to employees’ VINs and PINs at any point during the investigation. The NMB also pointed out that requests for duplicate VINs and PINs must be made in writing and signed by the individual employee.
To prevent the possibility of hackers programmatically discovering VIN/PIN combinations, the system locks out a voter after repeated attempts to use incorrect VIN/PIN entries. Even if the hacker successfully enters the system and votes on behalf of someone else, all failed actions are logged, and can be identified during an investigation. Additionally, if the intended voter then attempts to vote, the system announces that a vote has already been cast using that VIN/PIN. In this case, the voter may contact the Board to report the situation and obtain a remedy.
Use of Mail Ballots:
Although the NMB has indicated it will generally use TEV and Internet Voting, it “may use other appropriate methods, including mail ballots, as is permitted under Section 2, Ninth.”
Revised Section 13 of the Representation Manual:
The language in bold has been added to Section 13.304-1:
Where the voter’s intent to vote for representation is clear, the vote is valid and will be counted as a vote for representation. If there is a majority of votes for representation generally, the organization or individual receiving a majority of votes cast for representation will be certified as the representative even if that individual or organization did not receive votes from a majority of the craft or class.
(The bold typeface is used in this Alert to identify the added language. It does not appear in bold in the Representation Manual.) This is the only significant change made to Section 13, and merely restates existing NMB practice.
TEV and Internet Voting Instructions:
In response to the Port Authority’s concern that the system provided no clear direction for employees selecting no representation, the NMB amended the TEV and Internet Voting Instructions by adding the following paragraph:
If you choose to vote, you may do so using either the telephone or the Internet. If you do not wish to be represented, you do not need to vote. If you select the option of “Any other Organization or Individual” and do not identify any organization or individual – either by not entering text (Internet) or by remaining silent (telephone) – your vote will be counted as a valid vote for representation. If there is a majority of votes cast for representation generally (including the votes described above), the organization or individual receiving a majority of votes cast for representation will become your representative even if your vote was not cast for that particular organization or individual. Please follow the Instructions on the next page.
Again, this restates existing NMB practice, though it will be useful to have it stated directly to the employees in the Instructions.
If you have questions regarding this issue, please contact the Ford & Harrison attorney with whom you usually correspond.