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All About Online Voting Systems

An introduction to secure, digital voting.

What is an online voting system?

A simple definition:
 
Online voting systems are software platforms used to securely conduct votes and elections. As a digital platform, they eliminate the need to cast your votes using paper or having to gather in person.
 
They also protect the integrity of your vote by preventing voters from being able to vote multiple times.
 
Many secure voting platform vendors provide supportive vote consulting services that help organizations design their voting procedures.
 
These services help organizations save time, stick to best practices, and meet internal requirements and/or external regulations, such as third-party vote administration needs.

Who can benefit from them?

The short answer is: anyone who makes decisions.

Consistent, structured decision-making needs span across organization types and industries.

Individuals in organizations ranging from award shows, to law firms, to corporations, to schools will find value in online voting.

Simply put - if a group of people needs to make a decision, and that decision requires input from others, an online voting system will be of value.

Ultimately, most decisions boil down to one of two things

Electing someone, or a number of people

This includes electing:

  • Organizational leaders
  • Partnerships
  • Staff
Voting on something, or a set of things

This includes, for example, voting on:

  • Rules & regulations (e.g. bylaws, policy decisions)
  • Selections (e.g. award show nomination)
  • Employee preferences (e.g. workplace scheduling)

Why choose an online voting system over other voting technology?

voting-technology

There are significant benefits that make an online voting setup a better choice than traditional voting technology.

A trusted online voting software and services provider:

  • maintains your vote’s integrity
  • provides an easy vote administrator experience
  • creates a pleasant experience for your voters
  • has mechanisms for adapting to unique votes
  • includes analytics, reporting, and auditing capabilities

The most common reason organizations move to online voting is to make sure voters cannot vote twice.

This, combined with a slew of other benefits, makes it difficult to return to more outdated voting technology like in-person, paper, or email voting.

 

Online Voting Systems + Vote Management Services = A Smooth Vote

Many organizations who leverage voting software also receive help from vote management consulting services.

The vote consulting expert’s role is to assist in the design, setup, and management a successful vote.

Vote management services are valuable because they help organizations:

  • meet internal requirements and/or external regulations
  • manage a complex voting process
  • ensure high rates of voter turnout
  • integrate online voting with traditional methods of voting, like paper ballots

How should you choose the right voting partner?

choosing-a-voting-partner
 
The type of voting partner you choose is a significant decision and requires careful consideration.
 
It may make sense to self-administer your vote, or receive some help from your voting partner. A great partner will be able to point you in the right direction, based on your goals and needs.
 
If you opt for vote management services, they will help guide you through the process leading up to your vote or series of ongoing votes.
 
A solid company should have their communication lines are always open. We do.
 
 

What to base your decision on:

You should choose based on only a few main considerations, but don’t be alarmed if there’s more to think about than you originally thought.
 
Your votes and elections are important because you make significant, impactful decisions based on them.
 
They should be built upon secure mechanisms and sound voting design. In short, we recommend basing your vendor selection decision on two things:
 
  • the ability to meet your requirements, and
  • the online voting vendor’s reputation
Though there are numerous low-cost and even free solutions out there - we recommend not basing such a significant decision on pricing alone.
 
(There’s generally a reason why such software is low cost.)
 
Because of the nature of the relationship, your online voting partner will likely be with you for years to come. The support you receive will be worth the initial investment.
 
 

A checklist to help you prepare for your vote:

Having thoughtful answers to all of these questions will enable you to have more powerful conversations with online voting system vendors.
 
 

1. What are you trying to accomplish?

A thorough understanding of your voting requirements is singlehandedly the best thing item you can come to the table with. The clearer you can convey these to your online voting partner, the better your outcome.
 
  • Do you need to send out something straightforward like a series of yes or no questions, or something more complex?
  • How many people will be voting? Can they all be grouped into one, or do you need to group by sections (e.g. department, region)?
  •  How many votes do you need to have? Can everything be wrapped up in one vote or do you need a series of votes?
  • Does the decision that you’re making have significant ramifications for your organization and the people in it? Is there a legal component?
 

2. Do you have a budget?

If not, you should be aware that “free” generally doesn’t mean there are no associated costs.
 
Many “free” online voting tools run ads to your voters, sell your data, or don’t have the proper safeguards in place to properly store your personal information, like names and email addresses.
 

3. What is the vendor's reputation?

Has your potential online voting partner worked with organizations? Ask for proof. A legitimate vendor will be happy to provide recommendations from their client list.
 

4. What's your timeline?

Do you need to run your vote right away? Or is there time for planning?

 

Next steps

This was a high-level introduction to the world of online voting systems.

At this point, you know what they are, why you'd be looking for one, and how a structure to better convey your requirements to potential vendors in a sales process.

When you start speaking with voting software partners - remember to guide the discussion by focusing on what's important to your organization. Depending on who you reach out to, this process should be relatively smooth and enjoyable.

Contact us with any of your additional questions about online voting. We'll point you in the right direction!