Both remote and on-site elections can be run with ElectionBuddy. This is because these two kinds of elections have similar fundamental elements. In both cases:
- The voters must receive notice about voting, as well as receiving any necessary credentials;
- Votes must be recorded;
- Results must be tallied; and,
- The outcome must be shared with the voters.
The major differentiator between the two scenarios is time. Relative to on-site, remote elections typically run for long periods of time, allowing for ample opportunity to address the four fundamentals listed above. The big challenge with on-site elections is that you have very little time to do these things — all with the added pressure of your membership being right there to watch everything that you do.
Setting up a remote election with ElectionBuddy is very straightforward, as that was initially ElectionBuddy's primary use case. On-site election setups take a little more magic; here's how you can use ElectionBuddy to solve the problems presented by each of the four fundamental elements of an election for on-site voting.
Providing Notice and/or Credentials to Voters
To keep the flow of a meeting going, things must happen instantaneously. So, once that election starts, your voters are going to be expecting to receive their notices/credentials right away.
ElectionBuddy's notice delivery is relatively instantaneous, but a few different factors can impact the timing of notice delivery:
- The amount of elections starting at the same time as yours — ElectionBuddy only has so many hands that can be used to package and send out notices, so if you choose a busy time to start your election, the notice delivery time may be delayed. Additionally, since that people can set up and start an election in a matter of minutes, it is impossible for us to precisely predict the load on ElectionBuddy at any given time.
- When an election is set to start at a specific time, Electionbuddy can prepare the election ahead of time so it starts right away. When an election is set to start at the same time that you finish paying, it takes ElectionBuddy a few minutes to create access keys and render the notices for your voters before it can start sending those notices.
You also have to contend with spam filters. For on-site voting, the only thing worse than a notice that takes a few minutes to reach a voter is the notice that never reaches the voter at all.
There are a large range of solutions for providing notices/credentials to voters. Below are some strategies that get around any potential delays in notice/credential delivery.
Strategy #1: Providing Access Keys Directly to Voters as Part of a Registration or Check-in Process
Typically, with AGMs, there is some sort of registration or check-in process for attendees when they arrive. Since this process is already a required personal interaction with a voter, it is an easy opportunity to guarantee that the voter receives their access key.
The election would be set up ahead of time, and should be set up with a voter list where your attending members would already be listed in ElectionBuddy and therefore already have a key assigned to them. This would be set up by using manual keys.
You would be required to have staff with a device that has access to the internet. The staff would look up the voter in the voter list in ElectionBuddy, surface the voter's key, and provide it to them. Staff could give the voter the key by writing it down for the voters, letting the voter take a picture of it with their phone, etc..
Strategy #2: Remove the Need to Inform Voters of their Credentials by Using Medium Integrity
ElectionBuddy has an integrity setting that can allow you to create credentials for your voters yourself (as opposed to having ElectionBuddy create a random 16-character alphanumeric access key for each of them). This means that you can create credentials for the voters that they would already inherently know and could recall in response to a prompt — therefore removing the need to send them an access key. The setting is defaulted to High Integrity; to use this strategy, adjust the setting to Medium Integrity.
After choosing Medium Integrity on the "Details" page of your election setup and finishing your ballot setup on the "Ballot" page, choose Create Notices Yourself on the "Notices" page. On the "Voters" page, ElectionBuddy will give you the ability to create a prompt for the access keys and passwords that your voters will need to enter to access the ballot, as well as allow you to add your voter list comprised of the keys and passwords for each voter.
The keys must all be unique (as is the case for High Integrity), but the passwords can be the same. This can be useful if there is only one credential option that you can think of for each voter — you can use the unique credential option for the access key, and create a shared password for all of your voters. Below are some credential examples:
- Access key: Member ID/Member Number of each voter
Password: a shared password; ex. "Vote2019"
- Access key: Member ID/Member Number of each voter
Password: First initial and last name of each voter; ex. a voter named John Smith would have the password JSmith
- Access Key: Member ID/Member Number of each voter
Password: the email address on file for each voter
Strategy #3: Send Credentials Out to Your Voters in Advance
ElectionBuddy allows you to generate a list of access keys for your voters that you can download after your election is paid for, but before your election begins. You can send these keys out to your voters individually via your own email merge program. Voters will be unable to use the keys to vote until the election begins, so you are not running the risk of allowing voters to vote in advance.
To generate a list of keys, please choose Create Notices Yourself on the "Notice" page of your election setup.
Keep in mind that there is such a thing as sending out your voters' access keys too soon. Emails can get buried in inboxes, and instead of searching their inbox for the email, they may simply say that they didn't get it. However, you do want to send the emails early enough so that here is time to solve any "I didn't get the email" issues. Asking voters to star the email, label it as "Important", or perform some sort of other identifying task that would make the email easy for them to find later on can help you mitigate potential problems.
In order to record votes cast electronically on ElectionBuddy, a device that can connect to and browse the internet, and an internet connection itself, are required. If the Wi-Fi goes down during your election, we can't help you there! But, what do you do if you have voters who show up without a device that can connect to the internet, or if they show up and their device dies prior to voting?
Keeping a backup device (i.e. smartphone, tablet, or laptop computer) is always a good idea for on-site elections. ElectionBuddy has a kiosk mode that can facilitate the use of one device by multiple voters, allowing you to capture votes from votes that have shown up ill-prepared to vote.
This also allows you to assist any voters who may not have the technical aptitude to vote on their own!
Because of the immediate nature of an on-site vote, results need to be tallied as the votes come in to reduce the amount of time between the vote ending and the results being shared with the membership.
ElectionBuddy makes this one easy for you — effortless, automatic tallying of the results as they come in. No extra steps in your setup required!
You can allow your voters to observe the results as they come in, or wait for a dramatic reveal at the close of the on-site vote.
Sharing the Outcome
When an on-site vote ends, your voters want to receive those results right away! There isn't time for a fancy report to be generated and sent out days later, and there likely isn't time to edit your organization's website to publish the results there, either.
Because ElectionBuddy is tallying the results as they come in, sharing the outcome with your voters is easy. At the end of your election, you can simply share the results with them. ElectionBuddy operates on a simple majority win, so if your election has requirements other than majority when assigning winners, then your best bet is to simply tell your voters the winners without showing them the ElectionBuddy results.