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NLRB, labor, board, union, labor unions, representation election, union representation, electronic voting, internet voting


Amid dialogue on amending labor certification procedures are calls for the adoption of internet, electronic and/or telephone representation voting (IETV) procedures in representation elections. To date, most labor relations agencies in the United States and Canada have not implemented IETV. Two notable exceptions are the National Mediation Board (NMB), and the United States Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA). This article explores strengths and weaknesses of IETV and the potential for wider adoption of this technology in the representation election context. The article examines the NMB's rationale in adopting IETV, and its experience with this new election format. Insight from interview participants provides a fuller examination of the prospects and pitfalls of IETV than previous research. Preliminary investigation shows the primary rationale for adopting IETV is pragmatic administrative decision-making, rather than minimizing employer and union interference in voting. Findings also show that IETV has been adopted as a substitute for mail-ballot elections, and not as a replacement for on-site manual elections. These findings have implications for extending the adoption of IETV to other labor relations agencies. This article posits that while IETV is an important innovation in the representation electoral process, it is too early for universal adoption of electronic and telephonic voting without additional research and experimentation. In experimenting with IETV, the focus should be on determining whether IETV fulfills the fundamental purpose of a representation election: to accurately-reflect whether or -not employees in a unit wish to be represented by the applicant union. Moreover, in introducing IETV, an agency must explore new means of communicating with unit employees aimed at maximizing participation in the election process, including electronic notification announcing the election along with possible agency staff visits to the workplace to explain the IETV procedure.