Monday, May 28, 2018

Trusting your Election Manager

Illustration via Max Fleishman
Because of the importance of some elections, the thought of running elections online can create apprehension. Often, the concern is hackers who might try to manipulate your election (see our recent post on our election security practices).

In this blog post, however, we are going to focus on the election manager (the person who is running the election on behalf of the organization) and the steps that OpaVote takes to limit the ability of an election manager to manipulate an election.

To some extent, you need to trust your election election manager as we'll describe in greater detail below. If you want to eliminate all possibility of an election manager improperly influencing your election, then you can hire OpaVote to run your election for you.

Updated OpaVote pricing

We've recently revised how we do pricing of elections, and we think it will be a welcome change for you.

Previously, the price of your election depended on how long it lasted. The first week was free, and it would cost $10 for each additional two weeks.

Now, all elections can last for up to 12 weeks (from when you create it) at no additional charge.  The pricing is now based solely on the number of voters and candidates.

If you need your election to last more than 12 weeks, please contact us and we can help make that happen for you.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Weighted Votes with Ranked-Choice Voting

For some online elections, it is desired to use weighted votes. In government elections, the vote of each voter counts the same so that each voter has equal influence. In this situation, you could say that each voter has a weight of one. Voters used to government elections may think that weighting some votes more than others is unfair, but there are elections where it is fair and necessary!

Probably the most common example is condominium homeowner associations or HOAs. For a building with multiple condominium units, the building will often need to make decisions, such as to charge each owner an additional fee to replace the roof. To make these decisions, the HOA will have trustees who are elected by the condo owners to make decisions. The trustees will generally be a subset of the condo owners.

Because the condos in the building have different sizes, each condo owner is assigned a weight corresponding to the size of their condo. For example, the weight of a vote may be the same as the square footage of the condo, and a person with a 2000 sq. ft. condo will have double the voting power of a person with a 1000 sq. ft. condo.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Efficient Manual Entry of Ranked Ballots

Some OpaVote customers hold an election using paper ballots and need to enter the ballots into the OpaVote website. We provide a ballot editor (pictured here) to make it easy to do this, and in this blog post we provide some tips to make this process efficient and prevent errors in ballot entry.

Once you have all of your completed ballots, the first thing you should do is number them. For example, put them in a pile, and write 1 on the top-right corner of the first ballot, 2 on the next one, and so forth. This makes it much easier to verify that the ballots were entered correctly.

Smaller Elections

If you have a relatively small election, one person may create an OpaVote Count and enter all of the ballots using our ballot editor.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

2017 Year in Review

Happy New Year from OpaVote! We are based in the Boston area, which means that winter has arrived and our local yeti is roaming the streets! I don't know if he supports ranked-choice voting, but I'll try and find out.

We'll use this end of the year round up to give you an overview of all the accomplishments over the past year.

New Arrivals in 2017

  • We had our largest election ever with more than 41,000 voters. To be honest, we were a little nervous, but it went off beautifully. Since we run on Google and Sendgrid servers, they were easily able to scale up to handle this larger election.

Friday, December 29, 2017

OpaVote Security Practices

Some OpaVote customers are nervous about the security of online elections. To reduce risk, OpaVote follows many security best practices, and in this post we explain some of them to reassure you that it is safe to run your elections with OpaVote.

This is a followup post to a previous one where we showed that OpaVote has far better practices than other online election providers as determined by independent third parties.

Hackers have five possibilities in trying to undermine your election:
  1. Breaking into Google servers (OpaVote runs on Google)
  2. Accessing secret codes of voters
  3. Obtaining an election manager's password
  4. Obtaining an OpaVote administrator password
  5. Exploiting possible vulnerabilities in the OpaVote website.
We'll address each of these below.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Ranked-Choice Voting with a Supermajority Requirement


Some elections require a supermajority to cause an action to happen. A supermajority means more than a majority, and the most common supermajority requirements are 2/3 or 3/4 of the voters.

In this post we explain how you can implement a supermajority requirement for your online elections with OpaVote.

Why a Supermajority?

Most elections require a majority to enact a change because it allows you to make progress and move forward with a decision. If supermajorities were always required, then you could be stuck with the status quo and be unable to move forward.

Supermajorities are usually required for decisions of a more serious nature, such as removing a person from an office. For some decisions, it makes sense to stick with the status quo or not make a decision unless there is a supermajority who agree.