The concept of anonymous voting or secret ballots may not be new, but some people still have preconceptions about the validity of this kind of vote. We're here to dispel some of the most common myths and concerns surrounding anonymous voting.
For starters, anonymous voting is when an individual’s vote is hidden in a way that they cannot be identified by their ballot. Anonymous voting may be applied to any voting event where the organization seeks an impartial, unbiased outcome, as nameless ballots discourage attempts to use peer pressure or other external influences to sway voters.
Myth #1: Anonymous voting is always completely secret
There are actually several variations of anonymous voting, each with its own level of secrecy:
In a fully anonymous or secret vote, no one knows how anyone else voted. Not even vote administrators have access to any information besides the results of the vote. This is useful for situations where a pure blind result is needed in making a decision. However, the lack of a voter audit gives administrators less information to analyze when determining the results, e.g., demographics, voting trends.
In a semi-anonymous vote, specific administrators may audit records that show how individuals voted. Administrators with access to voting records may be limited to viewing only specific segments of information, such as demographic reports of voters. These reports can be useful in understanding how different population segments vote or identifying voting trends.
Myth #2: Anonymous voting is never "really" secret
On the other hand, some voters are skeptical of anonymous voting because they believe that, no matter what precautions are taken, there will be some way to trace their ballot back to them.
However, organizations may bring in third-party administrators to conduct a vote and share the results while keeping how individuals voted a secret. This makes the process look unbiased and fair to the voter base.
Myth #3: Anonymous Voting is only useful in special circumstances
On the contrary; anonymous voting is widely used in surveys, polls, and voting events, whether it is for a simple policy decision or for electing a president of a country.
It is popular amongst voters as well, as the pressure to conform to certain viewpoints is lifted once they step behind the curtain.
Myth #4: Anonymous voting makes it easier for fraud to take place
One of the most harmful myths about anonymous voting is the concern that secret ballots make it easier for voters to cast multiple ballots or vote in place of another individual. However, these concerns have more to do with how the voters participate in the vote and what systems are in place to authenticate them.
Although a voters' ballot may be kept a secret, many modern software solutions still require users to enter specific login credentials in order to participate. This guarantees that only authorized individuals are casting votes.