Online Voting | Security | Voting | Technology

5 Benefits (and 3 Risks) of Online Voting

Onboarding your organization to an online voting system may take some time, but its benefits far outweigh more traditional voting methods.
Alex Hay
Written by Alex Hay

Everything is done online, from sending money to friends instantly to setting your thermostat from a different city – all from an app.

So why do some organizations still use paper ballots to conduct important votes? Furthermore, why do they make their voters travel to a specific location to participate?

If you’re an organization that still relies on paper or in-person voting, perhaps you have some pretty convincing reasons as to why. After all, there are sound benefits to using paper such as accessibility, ease of use, and of course, a paper trail.

When it comes to onboarding your voters to an online voting system, you could argue that you’re encouraging voting in a controlled environment and minimizing any fraudulent activities that could occur behind the scenes.

While these are solid reasons to continue using your existing voting methods, all of these benefits can also be achieved by using an online voting platform. Not to mention, there are numerous ways a digital voting platform can help your organization in ways that traditional and outdated voting methods cannot. Here are some pros and cons of taking your voting process online:

 

Pro: Your voters can vote from anywhere

One of the main reasons modern organizations switch to online voting is that they can give their voters the convenience of voting from anywhere, on any device. Since they are given a username and password to access their ballot, all they need is a secure network on which to cast their vote.

 

Con: Some software requires an app

While some online voting software can be used securely within your browser window, others may require the use of a downloadable program or app. While these tools will get the job done, it can be an added hassle for your voters or IT department to ensure everything is set up correctly.

 

Pro: It makes a complex election easy

Another good reason to move away from in-person voting is if your organization requires a complex voting setup. Some votes or elections require weighted voting or give their voters an ability to rank their choices to a certain question. These situations are made easy when assisted by a platform that is created to handle those specific actions.

 

Con: A self-administered vote may take more planning

Although online voting software has reached the point that anyone can access and make use of its many capabilities, some larger events or multistage votes may warrant some additional knowledge and expertise. Having an online voting provider help you manage your vote may be the best course of action in these circumstances.

 

Pro: An accessible platform leads to higher turnout

Paper ballots get misplaced and damaged. Polling places can be hard to find, and traffic or other delays can affect turnout. When you move your voting system online, you are eliminating these challenges by making your vote more accessible. While a small learning curve may be necessary to get used to the nuances of navigating new technology, it’s worth it for the number of people that will be able to easily participate and make their voices heard.

Con: A full-fledged voting software may be more than what you need

If you're taking a simple vote amongst a small team or you just want to find a general consensus on an issue, a survey or poll may be more appropriate for your situation. Surveys and polls are generally less formal and less decisive than a vote, but if you're not making a major decision then that may be all that you really need.

 

Pro: Lower long-term costs

Reserving a space for your voting event can be expensive, not to mention the printing costs associated with hundreds or thousands of paper ballots. Depending on how large your organization is, a centralized voting system can have a positive impact your bottom line. Using an online platform typically requires either a monthly payment or an annual license, depending on your voting needs. Since tabulation is done electronically, and instantly, you won’t spend unnecessary dollars and time manually counting ballots. Not to mention, you won’t need to pay for staff to help specifically with your voting initiatives.

 

Pro: Full transparency

A good online voting system will have a process that you can see and trust. You should be able to know just how they are tabulating your votes and how secure their process and data storage is. Unlike paper ballots, a reliable online voting platform won’t leave your votes vulnerable to fraud and tampering. Most closed voting systems require user authentication, so you can rest assured that only eligible voters are participating in their respective ballots.

Switching to a new process doesn’t come without its challenges. Onboarding your organization to an online voting system may take some time, but its benefits far outweigh those of traditional paper voting and complicated in-person events.

To get a better idea of how we can make your voting process easier and more secure, take a look at our How it Works page.

Originally published May 19, 2022, updated May 19, 2022

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