Traditional Meetings vs Online Meetings

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic has shown that we need to be flexible in meeting the needs of our organization and its members. Conducting online meetings can be a challenge for rural based organizations, such as the Grange, where broadband access can be limited for our members. is something new for most organizations and there seems to be considerable anxiety on how to conduct an online meeting. As for Granges, the online meeting concept is especially useful for Committee meetings. 

This page is designed to clarify Grange rules about meetings, and the requirements of balloting were a secret ballot is required. We will also will attempt to provide information regarding the various web based software solutions for hosting online meetings.

The National Grange has recently published a guide for hosting online meeting.

Click here to download the National Grange Online Meeting Guide

Points to Consider

Setting a few basic guidelines for your meeting can help you conduct a successful online meeting. Here are some suggested guideline to consider:

1 - Encourage your members to log into the meeting five to ten minutes early. This will allow everyone to check their audio and video.

2 - To reduce distracting background noise, ask members to mute their lines until they are ready to speak; doing this cuts down on.

3 - Wherever possible, you need to include as many elements of our in-person meeting in our online meeting, such as:

  1. Saluting the flag they pledged allegiance to a flag.
  2. Join in giving the Grange Salutation.
  3. Follow the standard meeting agenda,

4 - Be flexible! Initially this will be a learning process for us all.

Conduct A Test Run, Or Two!

We recommend that you conduct one or more test runs to become familiar with the software you are using. This should include the key officers who have parts in the Grange opening/closing ceremonies.

Additional points to consider

There will be many challenges as we adapt to using online meetings. Remember, to be flexible and do not be afraid to adapt to doing something different.

Look to the bylaws: If your Grange has adopted the updated form of bylaws, the you may not have as many problems adjusting to online meetings.

Voting online

On area of particular concern is the requirement for conducting secret ballots. Most of the different software available to you will have the option to create a poll. Make sure that when using this option that it has an anonymous option that will hide the identification of who is casting a vote, and the results of that vote.

If you are using Zoom, you'll be using the “poll” feature to conduct voting, the actual voting process itself does not reveal who is voting for what or whom when the anonymous box is checked. You do need to make sure that everyone is a member in Good Standing, and entitled to vote. If non members are present, you must ask them to refrain from voting.

In Zoom, once you conduct a poll, the results will be instantaneous.

There are several software solutions to conduct formal voting, but at the present time they are limited and may be expensive.

Remember, all participants at the meeting must have access to be able to hear and speak, all should have access to the voting.

Voting by telephone conference call:  Voting using  telephone conference call is not acceptable for conducting votes that require a secret ballot. It should be discouraged because it is difficult to verify the identity of the person(s) on the call.

Voting by email:  Conducting votes by email or text are not acceptable in California.

Online Meeting Tools

The apps listed below are ones you should consider, and the one you'll choose should be based on your needs and your budget.


This program has been around the longest of major online meeting platforms. Their features and cost can be reviewed by clicking here.


This program is one of the more popular ones. Works well as a basic meeting tool. With Zoom you can use a polling feature to conduct elections.  if setup correctly, this feature does not reveal who voted for whom, so the vote remains anonymous.  The costs and features can be reviewed by clicking here. (Zoom has a free option for smaller groups and shorter times.) There have been some questions about the security surrounding a zoom meeting. Also, while the company is a US Stock Exchange listed company, the programming for the application was mostly done in China.

Google Hangouts:

Google Hangouts is a communication software that allows users to message contacts, start free video or video calls with one or more person. It also team chats for up to 150 people. The application works in sync with the other Google applications. It also comes as a Chrome extension and can be used across all devices.  For pricing click here. On the Pricing Page there is a drop-down window option near the top of the page to the left.  This app has three options on using but appears it may require a google account to use.

Join Me

This is a web-based collaboration software application for screen-sharing and online meetings. To share a desktop or host a meeting, users must first download and install JoinMe software. Mobile apps are available for Android and iOS. The features are listed on the pricing page. At the bottom of the page is a list of other programs that you can look at.  You can find the pricing by clicking here.  It has a free version but may be limited.


This program has a free version and a business version.  For Pricing and features click here.


A webinar is a live, virtual event that is executed online. It is an educational or instructive session that includes audio and visual communication between a speaker and attendees. Webinar software enables the sharing of slides and interactive participation through chat boxes and Q&A features.

This is a more costly, but more powerful meeting tool.  This program seems well suited for larger membership and has features such as Reporting/Analytics, Handouts, Full-service Registration, Polls (which can be used for voting), and Automated Emails.  For a list features and costs click here.

Election Programs

There are two separate apps that allow for confidential ballots. Both of these option operate separately from the meeting apps. Grange bylaws require the use of "Paper Ballot" for voting for new members and for elections of officers. Factors include;

  • Must verify the identity of those voting
  • Have secret ballots, and
  • Have no provision for a “vote of acclamation”

Election Runner:

This application allows you to conduct online elections.  For pricing click here.  For a quick review click here.  The demo below indicates its use for schools, but it can be done for Posts

Simply Voting:

This app also allows for online voting.  It appears to be something that can be customized to fit the needs of the user. To see how it works click here.  The features page can be found here.  For requests for pricing you can go here.