Thursday, September 14, 2017

STV with Constraints

The single transferable vote (STV) is an amazing voting system because it naturally provides proportional representation. This means that the demographics or interests of the elected candidates will tend to match the demographics or interests of the voters.

Some organizations want to use STV for their elections, but also want to require that the elected candidates meet a specified requirement. For example, an organization might want to require that half the elected candidates are women and half are men.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Customer Support at OpaVote

I'm using this blog post to expand on how you can get customer support for using OpaVote and our philosophy of customer support.

Customer support is a tricky thing. Most customers are great and a pleasure to deal with, but then there are those customers... The ones who probably spend their free time writing vitriolic comments on blog posts and news articles.

 First off, we provide top notch support. When you contact us for support, you reach me, an expert in online voting who knows the OpaVote product upside down and backwards. I can understand your question and quickly provide a clear and concise answer.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Elections with a Small Number of Voters

Elections with a small number of voters can be tricky in terms of determining a winner in a reliable way. I experienced this recently in doing a KwikVote (our new website for doing quick polls) to select a restaurant for dinner among a group of 9 friends.

By small number of voters, I mean a small number of voters relative to the number of candidates or options. If you are deciding between two things (e.g., go out to dinner or stay home and cook), then the number of voters doesn't really matter, but if you are selecting a restaurant from 10 possible restaurants, then it is hard to get a good result with only 9 voters.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Implementing Waterfall Elections with OpaVote

Some OpaVote customers want to implement waterfall elections, and in this post, I explain how you can do this with OpaVote. Full disclosure, I just made up the name "waterfall election," but it needed a name I kinda like it.

In a waterfall election, you are electing multiple positions, say president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. The key difference from regular elections is that people can run for more than one position. A person may want to be president, but if he doesn't win that election, then he might want to be vice president.

There are two main types of water fall elections, and I'll explain each below. You can use any of OpaVote's counting methods to do a waterfall election, but it works best when voters can rank all of the candidates, such as ranked-choice voting.

Monday, July 3, 2017

How to break free from the two-party system

Image of an American flag on cracked pavement.
The U.S. political system is broken. Voters all over the spectrum agree. The brands of both major parties are in the toilet. Trump speaks for himself. Hillary is widely disliked even by members of her own party and lost to the most incompetent and embarrassing candidate for President in history (oops, I guess I just spoke for Trump).

Why is the brand of our only two viable parties in the toilet? Because they don't represent most of us.

The 2016 Presidential election clearly showed that the two parties do not truly represent us. Democratic voters were divisively split between the Bernie camp and the Hillary camp. Republican voters were so fractured that it is hard to identify all the factions, but we have establishment Republicans, Trump supporters, libertarians, evangelicals, and whatever it is that Ted Cruz represents (people that no one likes?).

Sunday, June 25, 2017

OpaVote now has Guaranteed Email Delivery

Image of a blindfolded archer illustrating the difficulties of email delivery.
OpaVote is excited to announce a new feature that we call guaranteed email delivery. For an election manager, it is extremely important that voters receive their ballots, and OpaVote now goes to the extreme to make this happen. This is necessarily a complicated topic so please read to the end to understand our guarantee.

OpaVote provides managers with detailed information regarding the delivery of each email that is sent. Emails are in one of 4 states:
  • Pending -- OpaVote hasn't yet sent the email. Emails get sent at a rate of 2 per second so it may take a little time for all the emails to be sent.
  • In Transit -- OpaVote has sent the email but the receiving mail server hasn't decided whether to accept it yet.
  • Rejected -- This can mean one of three things: (i) the email bounced, (ii) the voter opted out of receiving emails, or (iii) the voter marked the email as spam.
  • Delivered -- The receiving mail server accepted the email, and nearly all of the time, the email will reach the voter's inbox.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Manual Tie Breaks for Counts

We've added a new feature to our OpaVote Counts that has been a long time coming...

An OpaVote "Count" is the online equivalent of the old OpenSTV software that is no longer available, and a Count lets you count ranked ballots with 23 different counting methods (e.g., ranked-choice voting, instant runoff voting, or the single transferable vote), a variety of counting options, and withdrawing candidates.

With an OpaVote Count, you can now break ties manually. When you initially count the votes, any ties will be broken randomly. After the initial count, you can recount the votes, and in doing the recount you have the option to manually specify how ties are to be broken.

Screenshot showing how to break ties with OpaVote.