Paper Ballots — General Notes and FAQs
This article is one of four in the ElectionBuddy Paper Ballot Collection. For more about paper ballots, please see:
- Setting Up an Election with Paper Ballots
- Submitting Paper Ballots
- Printing a Paper Ballot for a Single Voter in Your Voter List While Your Election is Running
ElectionBuddy offers two types of paper ballots: postal paper ballots, and printed paper ballots. The difference between these two types is how they are distributed, which follows the same rules as the notices themselves: postal ballots are sent to your voters by ElectionBuddy, and printed ballots are sent to your voters by you. Here are some key points to note about paper ballots in ElectionBuddy:
What is the cost for using ElectionBuddy's paper ballots?
As per our pricing page, ElectionBuddy's paper ballots are included at the $299.00 pricing tier. This means that, if you use paper ballots generated by ElectionBuddy, your election will have a minimum $299.00 cost.
If you are mailing the ballots yourself, there are no additional charges. However, if you are having ElectionBuddy mail them on your behalf as well, then there is a per-voter charge for postage:
- $2.99 per ballot being mailed in the United States.
- $3.99 per ballot being mailed to anywhere else (i.e. internationally).
If you choose to have ElectionBuddy do the mailing on your behalf, please note that, because you can add an address for any voter while the election is running, ElectionBuddy charges you postage for all voters (i.e. the maximum possible postage costs) when you go to pay and start your election, even if you start the election with only a few voters with an address for receiving a mailed ballot. This ensures that you can send more mail, if necessary, while your election is running.
When your election ends, any postage that was not used gets refunded back to your account as account credits that can be used to pay for elections in the future.
Can a voter still vote electronically, even if they've been issued a paper ballot?
Absolutely. Each paper ballot has a unique reference number. This number is associated with an equally unique access key, which is ElectionBuddy's random, secret voting credential issued to each voter. The access key can be used to vote electronically at https://electionbuddy.com/ballot.
Can a voter cast two votes — one electronically, and one on paper?
Your voters are more than welcome to fill out both an electronic ballot and a paper ballot, but only one will be counted. The access key associated with each ballot (electronic or paper) is single-use, so once either the paper ballot or the electronic ballot for a given access key has been submitted, that key has been used and another vote cannot be submitted with that access key, regardless of whether it's cast via a paper ballot or an electronic ballot.
Can I use two-factor authentication with paper ballots?
Yes, you definitely can. However, there is a situation where two-factor authentication is not compatible with paper ballots.
If using paper ballots without the tear-off portion and two-factor authentication via a code texted to each voters' cell phone numbers, you will not be able to submit ballots for the voters. You would either need to co-operate with the voter to get the code, or you would need to change the voter's phone number in the voter list to yours to get the code sent to you instead.
Two-factor authentication works in all cases when using an administrator-created code, or when the paper ballot is used with the tear-off portion.
For more details on two-factor authentication, please see Adding an Extra Layer of Security with Two-Factor Authentication.
Will my paper ballot look like my electronic ballot?
They have similarities, but they will differ. The paper ballot loses some of the features of electronic ballots due to space constraints. However, any formatting of text that you add to the electronic ballot is preserved for paper ballots. Below is a summary of the different ballot settings and features with paper ballots:
Compatible with Paper Ballots
Not Compatible with Paper Ballots
||Ask for Comments|
|| Advanced Ballot Customization (including logos)
| Random Order
You can also preview what your paper ballot will look like when choosing a paper ballot on the "Notices" stage of your election setup:
What is the page limit for postal paper ballots?
The maximum number of pages that can be sent is ten pages. This page limit includes the page that is allocated for the voter's voting notice. Be careful — if your notice is too long, it can run onto another page, which will take up another page out of your ten-page limit!
Additionally, if you choose to use the tear-off portion for the ballots, you will be allocating a page for that tear-off portion.
There is also a width limit, as a piece of paper can only be so wide. We recommend having no more than fifteen to twenty candidates/options per ballot question when using paper ballots with the tear-off portion to ensure that none of your candidate boxes run off the paper.
Can I use a paper ballot for just one voter in my voter list?
Yes! You will be able to print a voter's ballot in the event that they cannot vote electronically. Nothing needs to be done in your election setup to enable this, and there is no additional cost at this point. For instructions on how to do this, please see Printing a Ballot for a Single Voter in Your Voter List While Your Election is Running.
Is the tear-off portion of the ballot required?
Nope! It is completely your choice to use it or not. It is meant to assist with speed of entering the ballots into ElectionBuddy, and to minimize any return postage costs, but is not required.
Does my postal paper ballot include a return envelope and postage?
The postal paper ballots will have a blank return envelope included with them to facilitate the return process, but the return envelope is blank with no paid return postage. As with the printed paper ballots, your voters will be required to cover the postage to mail ballots back to you.
When can I print my paper ballots?
The election must be paid for and moved to a "Ready" stage in order to have access to download and print the ballots. An election can be paid for and put into "Ready" at any point before the actual start time of the election.
When can paper ballots be submitted?
Paper ballots may be submitted before the election starts, during the election, and after the election ends.
When we say that paper ballots may be submitted before the election starts, this is when the election has been paid for and moved to "Ready", but has not yet reached its scheduled start time.