Here are the top voting software options if you've found yourself needing to manage voting in online meetings over Zoom.
Whether it's voting for a major event like your AGM or just a simple group poll about where to go for lunch - an online meeting voting tool should simple for all involved. It should also be secure and auditable (but only to the extent your group needs it to be).
At the end of the day, you need to collect input, get your results, and get on with next steps. Like making important decisions based on those responses. Still, it's wise to be aware of the different free and paid voting software options out there.
Zoom Voting Software Option 1: Use Zoom's built-in polling feature
- Zoom's built-in polling feature is perfect for simple and mostly inconsequential votes that are run during your meeting
- It's not great for important events where the outcome of your vote impacts your group significantly
Zoom has a built-in polling feature that's easy to use. It's a useful tool for small groups that are weighing in on less consequential votes. Think: “Where should we order lunch from?” or “What did you think of last Friday’s presentation?”
It lets you create and launch single or multiple-choice questions during your meetings. It will also tell you how many people have participated at any given time.
This isn’t to say Zoom voting in meetings will be a good fit for every group, since it has some serious voting-related drawbacks and limitations to be aware of. Still, Zoom polling is a helpful feature that should at the very least be tested out to see if it works for your group.
A word of caution: Don’t use Zoom’s built-in polling feature for major votes or elections where significant outcomes are at stake, as your ability to guard against everything that can (and often does) go wrong with consequential voting events will be severely limited. Choose another tool to select your group’s leadership or update your rules and processes.
Zoom’s built-in voting software will likely work for your group if:
- You need to run small, less-consequential votes. Think: “Where should we order lunch from?” or “What did you think of last Friday’s presentation?”
- You want to create real-time, on-demand questions without much planning
- You prefer something that's simple to set up and easy to use and don't have a need to go back and audit your vote
Why Zoom’s built-in voting software may not be a good fit:
- In the event of a vote challenge, don’t expect Zoom to support your group with tailored resources and hands-on guidance. In the case of Zoom polling, voting is a side feature and not a core competency.
- You can’t easily see who has and hasn’t voted. Zoom only displays the number of people. For smaller, non-consequential votes, the number is probably fine and won’t create issues. However, if you need to manage hundreds or thousands of voter responses, it’s absolutely essential to see who did and did not vote so you can follow up with them accordingly.
- Anonymous voting on Zoom hides how people voted, but its functionality is limited. More advanced anonymous voting systems keep track of who voted for what and simply hide those results from users. There’s no weighted voting function in Zoom either.
Zoom Voting Software Option 2: Use free or low-cost survey software
- Free survey software is perfect for simple and mostly inconsequential votes that can be run before, during, or after your meeting time
- Free survey software isn't the best fit for important events where the outcome of your vote significantly affects your group
Software providers like Typeform, Google Forms, and Survey Monkey offer a wonderful experience for creating and participating in surveys. Their ability to quickly and easily collect input from a group makes them a great choice for a variety of situations.
Another positive is that it doesn’t require the meeting to overlap with the voting, compared to if you ran the poll using Zoom’s software.
Most survey software providers make it easy to handle most aspects of everyday voting. You can build questionnaires, send them out to your group, and report on the results.
The downside to basic survey software is twofold: you won’t get hands-on help when designing and creating ballots. And free survey software won’t hold much weight in the event that someone challenges your vote. Support will surely be lacking during what could be a very stressful event.
Still, as long as you’re aware of these downsides and choose to accept the risks - survey software is a great choice for many groups.
To get a sense of what’s currently out there and the features they offer, we recommend diving into the top-rated survey tools.
Why survey software will work for your group:
- The experience of creating and participating in a survey has been perfected by the top survey software companies. It’s never been easier, cheaper, and more pleasant to run a survey.
- You may want to let voters vote before or after your meeting. Using Zoom's built-in voting software, the voting must occur during the event itself.
Why survey software might not work for your group:
- Most survey software providers don’t offer best practice guidance and third-party certification of results to prove your vote carried out without manipulation or interference. This is absolutely essential when the outcome of an expertly managed vote is consequential to your group.
- Your ability to follow up with your group based on if they voted or not will be limited depending on the survey software you use.
- You’ll likely miss out on important voting-related features like anonymous voting, weighted voting, and advanced voter list management.
Zoom Voting Software Option 3: Use an online voting tool for meetings
- A secure, online voting tool is perfect for important events where the outcome of your vote significantly affects your group
- It's not the best fit for groups with simple, inconsequential votes as there is some security setup involved.
Electronic voting systems for meetings are the most secure and structured way to ask important questions, collect responses, and make major decisions based on the responses you get.
At their core, online voting tools protect the integrity of your vote by preventing voters from being able to vote multiple times. This is useful when your group needs to do things like elect individuals or vote on important rules and regulations.
The stakes are seriously high when engaging in votes and elections where individual promotions and livelihoods or core operating procedures are at stake.
Here’s where a secure, online voting system excels:
- The ability to audit and verify how your vote was rolled out is unparalleled to any other voting technology out there
- You’ll get access to a team for best practice guidance and voting-related expertise
If separating yourself completely from the vote and its outcome is important, you’ll want to take advantage of third-party vote management
Why an online voting tool may work for your group:
- You want top-of-the-line auditability and verifiability for all votes and elections leading to important group decisions. Having this support allows you to prove to your group that the vote was handled in a fair and trustworthy manner.
- You want to adhere to best voting and election practices, that bolster your existing processes and must-have rules of your votes and elections.
- You want to provide the individuals in your group with security, confidence, and trust in leadership and voting outcomes. If there’s even the slightest perception that an important vote or election was unfair, this will wreak havoc on the hard-earned trust you’ve built among your group.
- You want the option of working with a trusted, expert voting partner. At eBallot, if something were to go awry with your voting - maybe someone challenged your vote and you need to prove to your group (or outside observers) that you ran it well - we offer support that Zoom and other survey software providers would never take responsibility for. We’d help guide you through the entire process to a favorable outcome.
Why an online voting tool might not be the right fit:
- If you’re voting on things that don’t have much consequence. When the questions are in the realm of “where should we go for lunch?” and “who did the best job on the presentation?”, it’d probably be overkill to use a secure online voting tool.
- If you can’t access or create a list of your voters and their contact information (e.g. email addresses), you’re better off using zoom polling or a survey solution.
- If you need to get your vote up and running today or this week, know that an online voting tool and/or partner requires a bit more planning to get started.
Choose the right tool for voting in online meetings
At the end of the day, the amount of survey, polling, and voting software options out there for voting during Zoom meetings is overwhelming.
Hopefully, this overview of your Zoom-related voting software options helps to simplify your search and find the right solution for your needs.
Do you still have questions? Contact us and we’ll be happy to help you decide on how to best run voting in your online meetings if any questions come up