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.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

OpaVote has the most Secure Elections

For important elections, you need to make sure that your online election provider has high security. With the recent news about the hacking of U.S. politicians and elections, you can't be too paranoid.

We recently decided to do a security review, and we'd like to share our results with you.  In addition, we also did a security review for a few of our competitors.

There are websites that perform automatic checks of other websites to make sure they are using recommended security practices.  Below, we created a table that shows the results from two of these websites for OpaVote and some of our competitors.

In the table below, "A" is the highest score and "F" is the lowest score. Use the links in the table to verify the results yourself.

Test OpaVote Election Runner Election Buddy Simply Voting Elections Online
Security Headers A+ F C F D
Mozilla B+ F D F C

For the Mozilla test, we are working on improving our B+ to an A, but it is a demanding test. Even Gmail gets a "B" for that one.

What is crazy is that Simply Voting and Elections Online are 10 times more expensive than OpaVote, yet have bad security practices.

If you need high security for your election, then OpaVote is clearly your best choice.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Increasing Voter Turnout in your Elections

Getting voters to vote in your online elections can be a daunting task. Here, we'll give you some tips for increasing your turnout.

At a high level, voters will vote if they care about the election and if you make it easy for them to vote. We see a lot of different types of elections at OpaVote, and the elections with the best turnout are high school elections for prom king and queen. It is easy for the students to vote (they know all the candidates), and many students care deeply about the outcome!

Send Reminder Emails

This is the easiest and best thing you can do. OpaVote has a feature to send reminder emails to all voters who have not yet voted, and we allow you to do this every three days. Here is a typical example of how reminders work in practice.