What is Online Voting?
Online voting (also known as electronic voting, or e-voting) is the process of using an electronic method to cast, and then tabulate, votes in an election. In a nutshell, this is what ElectionBuddy does. ElectionBuddy will help you through the full election process, from notifying voters, collecting votes to calculating the results.
By contrast, before online voting, elections were conducted using paper to cast votes, and tallies were performed by hand. While non-online voting is still prevalent in today’s society, the automation of the most important (but arguably, the most tedious) parts of an election (i.e. the voting and tallying) is causing online voting to accumulate enormous popularity.
Online voting not only increases convenience for everyone involved, but it also helps protect elections from a major risk to their integrity — human error. Ballots can get lost, mistakes can be made while calculating results, and humans can be influenced to tamper with an election. ElectionBuddy protects the online voting process by limiting changes to the election during the voting period, providing audit trails of the few changes that ARE allowed, displaying results that can be manually calculated to verify the computer calculation, and more. Every detail is verifiable, and your election integrity is maintained. There are no secrets with online voting in an ElectionBuddy election — except your voters’ voting choices, of course!
To learn more about running an election with online voting, check out our eBook!
Online Voting Methods
Online voting can generally be conducted in two ways — remote online voting and on-site online voting. Your bylaws are always the first place to check when deciding if you need to run an on-site or remote online vote. In some cases, you may even be allowed to utilize both!
Remote Online Voting
Remote online voting is online voting performed remotely. This type of voting is a form of an absentee ballot, and is becoming extremely popular, as it goes one step further than on-site voting does to increase convenience. Instead of having to go out and vote in-person, remote online voting allows a voter to cast their vote at any time, from anywhere. All a voter needs to vote is a notice containing their voting credentials, a device that can connect to the internet, and an internet connection!
Traditionally, the challenge with remote voting was inherently tied to the distribution method that had to be used: postal services. Since paper was the basis for the voting process, paper ballots had to be mailed to voters, and then had to be mailed back for counting. The issues with postal services are that postage is expensive, it takes time for ballots to be mailed out and mailed back, and things can be lost in the mail.
However, when using an online voting process for your remote election, none of the above issues are a risk! This is because:
- Emails don’t have a postage charge, so you save on postage.
- They are sent instantly, and don’t rely on human delivery, which is prone to errors.
- Your voters don’t have to send anything back — they simply follow the instructions in the email, and cast their vote, which saves time.
Your voters will love the simplicity of it, and so will you!
On-Site Online Voting
As the name implies, on-site voting is when an election is performed by a voter in person. This commonly occurs at annual general meetings, and is also done during municipal, provincial/state, and federal elections.
However, unlike municipal/provincial/state, and federal elections, on-site online voting does not require a paper ballot. And, unlike an AGM voting process (which may be performed in a more informal way, such as a show of hands), you still get to reap the benefits of a formal voting process when online voting is used — namely, election integrity and security.
If budget is a major factor for your elections, online voting can help drastically reduce the costs of your on-site election. The obvious savings include those from not having to print paper ballots for your voters, but there are other savings as well. For example, paper ballots require manpower for distribution, collection, and tabulation, and those people must be paid for their work. No physical space is required for ballot storage, and there aren’t any costly tabulation errors when a computer algorithm does the counting. Furthermore, if time is money (like the old saying goes), then you’ll save money on all the time saved from having ElectionBuddy do most of the legwork.
Another major theme with online voting for on-site elections is convenience. When a computer program performs tasks and responsibilities that conventionally needed to be completed by hand, this is known as automation, and it is through automation that convenience is achieved. It is extremely convenient to not have to manually distribute, collect, and tabulate ballots, on top of the financial impact of not having a human do these things. ElectionBuddy automates the majority of the voting process, so you can stay focused on more important things.